Rabu, 20 Juli 2011

Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

           Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
The University of Sydney
Get up, stand up: West Papua stands up for
its rights
A rebuttal of the International Crisis Group Report No. 188, Radicalisation and
Dialogue in Papua: West Papuans unite against Special Autonomy and for a
referendum on independence
By Jim Elmslie and Camellia Webb Gannon with Peter King
A report prepared for the West Papua Project at
the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,
The University of Sydney, July 2010 Note on the title: West Papuans, since the late 1970s (initially through the music of
West Papuan fusion band the Black Brothers), have been inspired by the Rastafarian
politics and music of Jamaica, particularly Bob Marley. As such, the Bob Marley and
Peter Tosh song Get up, Stand up, is an apt reference and title for this report. As West
Papuans peacefully fight for their rights in the 47
 year of their struggle for selfdetermination, the movement is building momentum through increased unity and
proactive resistance.
Get up, stand up: Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: Don’t give up the fight!
 - Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, 1973 Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Get up, stand up: West Papua stands up for
its rights
A rebuttal of the International Crisis Group Report No. 188, Radicalisation and Dialogue
in Papua: West Papuans unite against Special Autonomy and for a referendum on
By Jim Elmslie and Camellia Webb Gannon with Peter King
        Indonesian military monument in Merauke, West Papua
A report for the West Papua Project of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS),
The University of Sydney, July 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9808286-0-3
Published by the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, The University of Sydney.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the permission of the
authors.     2
Table of Contents
Executive Summary………………………………………………………………3
1. Introduction……………………………………………………………….5
2. The April 9 attack on the Abepura police station………………………6
3. The April 9 arson attack on the Cenderawasih University rectorate….8
4. The TPN and Drew Grant’s death………………………………………10
5. The KNPB…………………………………………………………………13
6. Recent significant events for West Papua……………………………….16
A. The June 18 demonstration………………………………………….....17
B. The Vanuatu resolution………………………………………………...21
C. TNI ‘sweeping’ in Puncak Jaya………………………………………..24
7. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………25      3
Executive summary
This report begins with a response to ICG Report No. 188, Radicalisation and Dialogue
in Papua, released in March 2010. It finds that the ICG report is flawed in declaring the
KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat –the West Papua National Committee) responsible
for several recent acts of violence in West Papua. These include: an attack on the police
station in Abepura in April 2009; arson at the Cenderawasih University in Abepura in
April 2009, and killings around the Freeport mine since June 2009 through to January
2010. The ICG’s evidence supporting these assertions is examined in detail and found to
be insufficient.
The evidence the ICG relies upon includes selective quoting from Indonesian tabloid
press reports, hearsay and discredited interrogation testimonies. A major omission of the
ICG’s report is that its authors did not interview the person they identified as the main
actor in these events, Victor Yeimo, to give him a chance to respond to the allegations
made against him.
The ICG report characterises the KNPB and its vice chairperson Victor Yeimo as
militantly radical, promoting the use of violence for achieving the political goal of a
referendum on Papuan independence. We have found instead that the KNPB is primarily
a media and information clearinghouse that expresses mainstream views held by a wide
spectrum of Papuan civil society and political organisations, as well as the armed wing of
the OPM. The KNPB also organises peaceful demonstrations promoting such
developments as International Parliamentarians for West Papua, launched at Westminster
in 2008.
All this matters because the ICG is widely considered to be a definitive voice in conflict
analysis internationally, and its findings are therefore to be taken very seriously. Only
weeks after the ICG report was released, major military operations commenced in the
highlands of Papua, with very grave consequences for civilian populations living in those
areas. The ICG report strengthens the Indonesian government’s position that they are
fighting violent guerillas in West Papua rather than a legitimate, popularly backed
resistance movement and the ICG’s views have been echoed in international reporting on
the conflict. Furthermore, Victor Yeimo himself is facing serious charges of rebellion for
exercising his democratic right to peaceful demonstration, and the ICG report can be seen
as compromising the legitimacy of his trial by dangerously skewing perceptions of him
and his organisation.
In fleshing out the reality of the KNPB, we have interviewed various key Papuan
activists, both in country and in the diaspora, to canvass their views on the KNPB and the
level of support for its goals. We have found a high level of support for the organisation
and its aims, which undermines the ICG claims that the KNPB’s views are somehow
extremist. All this was brought into sharp relief on June 18, 2010 when a landmark
meeting of the peak Papuan representative bodies including the MRP (Majelis Rakyat
Papua—the all-Papuan upper house of the Papuan parliament in Jayapura) and leading
West Papuan intellectuals and theologians issued 11 recommendations rejecting Special      4
Autonomy and calling for a referendum on independence in West Papua. A march of
some thousands of people formally delivered these findings to the Papuan People’s
Representative Council, the lower house or DPRP, demanding that the legislators in turn
‘give back’ Special Autonomy to the central government in Jakarta.
Reflecting the level of West Papuan internal and external coordination, almost
simultaneously in Vanuatu, which hosts a representative office of the West Papuan
National Coalition for Liberation, a motion was passed in parliament explicitly
supporting independence for West Papua and committing the Vanuatu government to
work towards that goal, regionally and internationally. This latter commitment would
include sponsoring a motion at the United Nations General Assembly to ask the
International Court of Justice for an ‘advisory opinion’ on the legality of Indonesia’s
official takeover of West Papua in 1969.
The above events taken together represent a huge challenge for the international
community which to date has endlessly repeated its support for the Special Autonomy
package as a legitimate, viable way to resolve the West Papua conflict. Indonesia’s
obstinacy in failing to implement much of the package has shredded any credibility it
may have had in the eyes of Papuans. While not universally dismissing the Indonesian
Institute of Social Sciences (LIPI) Papua Road Map that advocates dialogue, mainstream
West Papuan opinion, as evidenced by the June demonstrations and recommendations, is
calling for a referendum for independence in addition to dialogue with Jakarta. This will
prove a considerable challenge for President Yudhoyono.
In this pressure-cooker situation, the simmering discontent of the West Papuans may well
explode. The ICG report has correctly identified the specter of a civilian massacre along
the lines of the Santa Cruz cemetery massacre in Dili, Timor Leste, in 1991. The Papuans
have already indicated they intend to push their demands further through non-violent
mass protests, which in the past have incurred a heavy-handed military and police
response. However the Papuans feel a sense of desperation in their need to attract
international attention to their cause in the face of stonewalling by Jakarta and the
ongoing massive inward migration by Indonesians from other provinces. The problems in
West Papua were initially created through colonial interference.  Should the situation in
West Papua deteriorate radically, there would be profound implications for Indonesia as
well as Australia, the United States, Papua New Guinea and the European Union. West
Papua has become a serious and seriously neglected international issue. It is time to treat
it accordingly.      5
This report addresses the momentous events that have transpired in West Papua and its
diaspora in recent months. A response to the recent International Crisis Group (ICG)
report entitled Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua
 is also necessary as it is being used
as justification by the Indonesian government in two serious initiatives currently
underway: the prosecution of activist leader Victor Yeimo on charges of ‘rebellion’ and
the unfolding TNI military operations in the highlands of West Papua. One initiative may
unjustly deprive a man of his liberty; the other will almost certainly cost the lives and
livelihoods of innocent Papuan civilians. The ICG report is biased, poorly conceived and
researched. Its conclusions are therefore questionable even while the consequences of
those conclusions are potentially so dire. A rebuttal is essential.
The report blames an upsurge of violence in West Papua since 2009 on “the radicalisation
of a group of Papuan students and ex-student activists from the central highlands” and
their organisation, the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat or
. There is no mention that this violence is occurring in the midst of a massive
influx of Indonesian settlers, soldiers, logging companies and mining operations, which
have already probably made the Melanesian Papuans a minority in their own land. The
Papuans have endured 48 years of Indonesian occupation (their words), the death, torture
and rape of tens of thousands of innocents, the theft of their lands and forests, and
marginalisation within a foreign culture, all of which they see as an ongoing and
intensifying process of Asian colonisation.
To blame the violence in West Papua on those Papuans who are opposing the
demographic and political annihilation that they are facing almost defies belief. They are
engaged in a legitimate struggle for self-determination such as has occurred in East
Timor, Aceh and South Africa. It is incumbent on such a prestigious organisation as the
ICG that research and analysis of conflicts like the one in West Papua be conducted in a
rigorous and objective manner, with a high degree of academic discipline. In this case the
ICG has failed to achieve these standards.
We intend to outline the main charges the ICG makes against the KNPB and its vice
chairperson Victor Yeimo, examine the evidence to support those charges, and assess the
ICG’s argument. We then intend examining Report No.188’s second analysis regarding
the shootings around the Freeport mine since July 2009 that have left a least three dead,
including an Australian, Drew Grant. The ICG has alleged these killings were most likely
the doing of the TPN/OPM, with only flimsy evidence. It is a claim that even the
Indonesian police have been reluctant to make, and certainly one that has not been
proven. We will then look at the KNPB itself and seek to understand its true nature, goals
and policies. Finally, the consequences of recent developments, these being the current
military operation underway in the central highlands, a significant motion in support of
 ‘Radicalisation and dialogue in Papua: Asia Report No. 188’, International Crisis Group, Brussels, March
11, 2010.
 ibid, p.1.      6
West Papuan independence in the Vanuatu parliament and a call for a referendum by key
groups in West Papua, will be examined to see where the conflict might go from here.
The ICG report finds several violent incidents in 2009 “directly attributable to the
. These events occurred on April 9, Indonesian election day, when the police
station in Abepura, Jayapura, was attacked and the rectorate at Cenderwasih University
was burnt down. The evidence that the ICG uses to substantiate these claims is extremely
The April 9 attack on the Abepura police station
At 1.00am on April 9, the Abepura police station was attacked by several dozen men
reportedly armed with bows and arrows and Molotov cocktails. Police opened fire on the
‘attackers’ and shot five men, one of whom died later from his injuries. The police
arrested and interrogated the other four wounded men.
In one of the “interrogation depositions” a suspect claimed that he had attended a meeting
of some 20 people led by Victor Yeimo in the Tanah Hitam area of Jayapura earlier on
the night of the attack. Allegedly, at this meeting, it was agreed that the police station
should be the target and a detailed plan of attack was made. At his trial however, “the
same suspect said he had not taken part and had no idea it was being planned”. He said he
“happened to pass by the station as he was going home and was shot as he was watching
the incident unfold”
. The suspect, along with all the others, was acquitted on January 18,
2010. This implies that the Indonesian court believed the suspect and that the
“interrogation deposition” had been fabricated by the police: a common practice in West
The ICG saw further confirmation of the KNPB’s involvement in statements made by
Victor Yeimo on his website and blog. In fact, all Yeimo said on April 13 in a statement
on the West Papua Today website was that “both the police station and the rectorate
attacks were purely the work of the West Papuan people”
. Later, on April 18 after police
raided his house and while he was still in hiding, Victor sent a text message asserting
“that the two attacks on 9 April were carried out spontaneously by Papuans and not by
KNPB as an organisation”
. More apparent ‘evidence’ of the KNPB’s role was found in
an article in the Cenderawasih Pos, one of West Papua’s local newspapers, which quoted
the KNPB secretary, Demus Wenda, as saying “that the KNPB was responsible for most
of the major political acts, violent and non-violent, that had taken place in Papua in 2009,
including the attempted assault on the Abepura police station; [and] the arson at the
 ibid, p. i.
 ibid, p. 9.
 ibid, p. 10.
 ibid, p. 10.
 ibid, p. 11.      7
This evidence, a retracted statement supposedly made to the police, and quotes from a
tabloid Indonesian regional newspaper, was deemed enough for the ICG to “directly
attribute” the police station attack to the KNPB. This level of research is hardly
rigourous. The claim of KNPB involvement in an incident in which a man was killed
should have been the subject of further ICG investigation before reaching this damning
The ICG researchers could, for instance, have asked Victor Yeimo for his thoughts. We
interviewed him on June 1, 2010, and found that the ICG report has profoundly
misunderstood the role and functions of the KNPB. The truth, as so often in West Papua,
is more nuanced and complex than Report No 188’s rather superficial analysis suggests
in this instance.
Victor Yeimo in Abepura Prison, November 2009
Victor Yeimo describes the KNPB as being the “West Papuan people’s media for
. It disseminates information from West Papuan “civil” groups about their
actions, as well as from the various commands of the TPN/OPM (Tentara Pembebasan
Nasional/Organisasi Papua Merdeka), the armed wing of the West Papuan resistance
movement. The KNPB sees itself as having a prime responsibility to distribute
information on anti-Indonesian actions, not as being responsible for those actions.
Yeimo told us,
“I…made [a] statement after [the] attack on [the] post in Abepura. I said that I
[was] responsible for it…not because I [was] involved in the attack, but because
 C Webb Gannon, ‘Interview with Victor Yeimo’, June 1, 2010. This interview was conducted via phone
from Sydney to Jayapura.      8
KNPB… is the media for every action in West Papua. So we [are] responsible for
every people’s action, whether TPN, whether it comes from civil [society]”
And further,
“We are media for civil and everything, so we have to say to the media…what is
behind their aim to attack the…police, but we never command to the civil
[society] to attack there, …KNPB never involved in attack”
The ICG was also mistaken to take tabloid newspaper articles at face value. Victor
Yeimo contends that Papuan newspapers, such as the Cenderawasih Pos, have
Indonesian intelligence officers who vet the news and engage in generating propaganda
that portrays the Papuan nationalists in a poor light
. This seems highly plausible in such
a politically tense situation as that which currently exists in West Papua. Victor Yeimo
explains the statements purported to having been made by Demus Wenda in this way:
“Indonesian media…they don’t publish true statement that Demus Wenda talk.
Demus Wenda talk[s] about KNPB…responsib[ility] to say to the world what is
really happening. But KNPB [is] not involved in the attack. But as you know…in
local media, they have many, many intelligence involved in the media in
Cenderawasih Pos, and Papua Pos, they are always making up propaganda to say
to the world that KNPB is the destroyer or something like that”
This means that not only have the ICG misinterpreted Victor Yeimo’s own statements,
confusing what he is accepting responsibility for (putting out news on incidents, not the
incidents themselves), but they have also been unwittingly duped by misinformation and
propaganda put out by Indonesian intelligence agents monitoring and manipulating local
media. According to Victor Yeimo he was never approached by the ICG for an
, which seems a glaring lapse given so much of the report concerns him and
the organisation that he represents, the KNPB. As a result of this oversight, Yeimo
endeavoured to clarify in his interview with us any ambiguity that may have been
perceived by the ICG around the special sense in which the KNPB assumes
The April 9 arson attack on the Cenderawasih University rectorate
About half an hour after the Abepura police station attack, the rectorate at Cenderawasih
University was set alight. No police arrived until 6.15am. No one else attended the fire
either, as people were too scared to approach the rectorate after the shootings at Abepura.
The three-story building suffered substantial damage.
 ibid.      9
The ICG report found that this attack too was “directly attributable to the KNPB”
. They
drew this conclusion from the statements we have quoted above from Victor Yeimo on
his website and also the Cenderawasih Pos newspaper article misquoting Demus Wenda.
For Victor Yeimo the reason behind the attack was clear, which he posted on his website
under the title ‘Main Reason for the Burning of the Cenderawasih University Rectorate.’
The reason was that Papuan students at the university were angry at being discriminated
against by the rector and took their revenge. It was not an action planned or cocoordinated by the KNPB.
One or more ICG researchers obviously did not believe Yeimo. In response to Yeimo’s
above statement they wrote in the report, “While the KNPB was not taking responsibility,
it could explain why the rectorate became a target”
. The ICG sensed KNPB
involvement; a hunch that they felt was ‘confirmed’ by yet more Indonesian tabloid
“Another article quoted Wenda as saying that these actions [the rectorate fire;
police station attack and others] were endorsed at a meeting of pro-independence
elements, including the OPM and KNPB”
The source (footnote 64 in the ICG report
) is “OPM-KNPB Bukan Separatis”, Papua
Pos, June 3, 2009. Yet again the ICG was taking unverified tabloid newspaper reports as
‘evidence’ to support their claims of the KNPB’s violent actions. At the least the ICG
researchers should have known that in such politically fraught circumstances all publicly
released information on the independence movement published in local papers would be
subject to Indonesian government scrutiny and manipulation. Given that, it is bewildering
that the ICG has presented dubious information as fact. At its worst interpretation the
ICG is recycling Indonesian intelligence misinformation and propaganda, whether
consciously or not, and giving that misinformation greater weight under the imprimatur
of the ICG.
The actions taken by the ICG in drawing its conclusions on the nature of Papuan
resistance to Indonesian rule are either incompetent or willfully ignorant. They tend to
blame the Papuans for the terrible situation in which they find themselves. Instead of
trying to understand the Papuans’ position the ICG has cast the KNPB as almost a
terrorist organisation, which is engaged in violent actions against the Indonesian state
driven by violently radical revolutionaries. This is playing into the Indonesian
government’s hands as this is how they also portray Papuan nationalists.
 International Crisis Group, op. cit., p. i.
 ibid, p. 10.
 ibid, p. 11.
 ibid, p. 11.       10
The TPN and Drew Grant’s death
The ICG contends that the "[KNPB's] dissemination of information on the shootings in
2009 and 2010 in the area of the giant Freeport copper and gold mine is one of the main
indications pointing to the involvement of the late Kelly Kwalik’s TPN/OPM unit rather
than or perhaps in addition to members of the Indonesian military”
. That it is a non
sequitur is the least problematic aspect of this statement. The KNPB is as closely linked
with the TPN as it is with any other Papuan independence group
. This is because, as
previously stated, the KNPB describes itself as a media organisation that is mandated to
report to the world on issues of relevance to the independence struggle. According to
Victor Yeimo, such issues or events may concern the TPN or Papuan civil society which
all “have the same goal…they fight for freedom, they fight for dignity, they fight for selfdetermination”
. Despite having a similar vision, Yeimo is clear that the KNPB has no
say in the TPN’s actions – “we never command, they have a structure in their military
command so we cannot, I mean we cannot intervene in their command”
. Therefore the
link remains obscure between the KNPB’s “dissemination of information on the
shootings”, and alleged TPN culpability.
The closest the ICG report comes to providing a rationale for its allegations is on page 12
when it suggests “the presence of highland activists in the KNPB makes the guerilla
activity in Puncak Jaya of particular interest”
. It implies that the KNPB is primarily a
highlanders’ organisation, and that that is why highlands-based protests connected to
TPN commander Goliat Tabuni receive strong KNPB press coverage. That Tabuni
apparently entreated Papuans not to vote in the presidential elections “almost certainly
reflected communication with KNPB and its election boycott” according to the ICG
. While communication between the two groups undoubtedly occurred (not
necessarily because of the KNPB’s highlander membership but due to its commitment to
relaying news of TPN activities), as Victor has pointed out, the TPN does not take
instructions from the KNPB.
The report also raises the question of why the KNPB secretary Demus Wenda claimed
responsibility for the occupation of the Kapeso airstrip, which the KNPB seemed to have
little if anything to do with. Again this is a misunderstanding on the ICG’s part about the
role of the KNPB; the KNPB was not responsible for this action, but understood the
rationale behind it and was responsible for reporting both Papuans’ reactions to the
Indonesian occupation and their rationale. The report offers zero evidence for the claim
that communication between the TPN and the KNPB indicates TPN responsibility for the
spate of shootings around Freeport between July 2009 and early 2010 (injuring many and
claiming three lives including that of Drew Grant).
 ibid, p. 1.
 Webb Gannon, op. cit.
 International Crisis Group, op. cit., p. 12.
 Ibid, p. 15.       11
The ICG proposes four possible culprits for Grant’s death (in addition to the other
shootings): Kelly Kwalik and those under his command; people working on orders from
someone who had once worked with Kwalik; the Indonesian military or any combination
of the above but maintains that “the case for the involvement of Kelly Kwalik and his
men is stronger than for any of the alternatives”
. Before he was assassinated (to use
Neles Tebay’s description)
 by Brimob officers in Timika on December 16, 2009,
Kwalik denied that his forces were involved in Drew Grant’s death. The denials were
made both in a meeting with the provincial police chief and in a comprehensive press
statement dated July 15, 2009, addressed to “the world community, United Nations,
Australia, USA, Uni Europe and the Asian Pacific as well as the Nation Colonial
The ICG offers as evidence against Kwalik several questionable items:
• First, an exhortation on July 12, 2009 by Kwalik to Papuans to “revolt against all
powers, Western and Asian” that have contributed to the demise of West Papua
and its people;
• Second, an interview on Australian ABC radio from July 13, 2009 in which
Victor Yeimo states it is unclear whether the TPN/OPM attacked Drew’s car;
• Third, an email to activists, “reportedly” from a KNPB member who had
“apparently” joined Kelly’s forces, who criticised the “KNPB’s attacks” on the
university and the Abepura police station;
• Fourth, testimonies from seven Papuans arrested for one of the attacks; and
• Fifth, a quoted Cenderawasih Pos article with another statement from the KNPB
secretary Demus Wenda
We counter this evidence consecutively. First, Kwalik’s call to Papuans to revolt against
oppressive powers comes as no surprise from a leader of West Papua’s resistance
movement against foreign, that is Indonesian - and American (PT Freeport) - colonialism
in West Papua. Resistance and rebellion (not necessarily violent) have been Papuan
responses since Indonesian occupation in 1962; consequently, this statement of Kwalik’s
has no particular application to Drew Grant’s death (or those of the other victims).
Second, neither does the ABC interview with Victor Yeimo, which cites other TPN/OPM
attacks “far from Drew’s car” as implicating the TPN in Grant’s murder. Yeimo claims
the ABC interview misrepresented the nature of the TPN and its capacity, and that it
served purely to further “stigma[tise] the Kelly Kwalik struggle”
Third, a claim (hedged with qualifiers such as “reportedly and “apparently”) that a KNPB
member in cahoots with Kwalik’s forces chastised other activists for criticising the
KNPB’s alleged Abepura attacks is difficult to take seriously as evidence of TPN
 ibid, p. 22.
 N Tebay, ‘The killing of Kelly Kwalik and Papua conflict’, in Jakarta Post, December 24, 2009.
 K Kwalik, ‘Freeport and Indonesia responsible of the all incidents in West Papua’, fPcN intercultural
(https://www.fpcn-global.org/Statement_GEN._KELLY_KWALIK_TPN-OPM-West_Papua), July 15,
 International Crisis Group, op. cit., 20-2.
 Webb Gannon, op. cit.       12
responsibility in the Freeport attacks. As previously discussed, the April Abepura attacks
were not in fact the doing of the KNPB and it would seem that KNPB members were
aware of this.
Fourth, even the ICG admits that the testimonies from the seven Papuans arrested in
relation to the shootings (who were later released), including an indication from
Amungme man Simon Beanal that their orders came from Kelly Kwalik, are too weak to
hold up in court. The ICG cites Papuan police as dismissing allegations, from Beanal’s
family, that he is ‘mentally ill’. Surely his family would likely be in the best position to
assess his mental health, and if indeed Beanal was/is unwell, this would seriously call
into question the legitimacy of testimonies and re-enactments of the attacks he may have
been coerced into providing. Indonesian human rights monitor and Papua expert, Brother
Budi Hernawan OFM, refers to Simon Beanal as being “mentally disabled”. Great weight
must be given to Hernawan’s assessment after 12 years of on the ground experience of
investigating human rights abuses in West Papua for the Catholic church
Fifth, the report again cites a statement by Demus Wenda (in what we know to be a
biased media source, the Cenderawasih Pos) as “an indication of Kelly Kwalik’s
involvement”. But what Wenda said, according to the report, does not indicate this at all:
“The resistance undertaken was a protest over injustices perpetrated on the people as
holders of customary land rights. To resist various forms of injustice, a component of the
Papuan people, backed up by the forces of the TPN/OPM, will continue to resist in
whatever way they can”
. This again is not an unusual statement coming from the
resistance movement’s media organisation, and it does not specifically indicate the use of
violent resistance methods. It is not surprising that the Cenderawasih Pos seems to have
manipulated this statement (as they have his previous statements) to claim that Wenda
attributes the Freeport attacks to Kelly Kwalik.
When even the Papuan police are reluctant to allege TPN guilt, given the lack of
evidence, it seems misguided for an observer body such as the ICG to do so. The then
provincial police chief, Brigadier General Bagus Ekodanto, said he believed Kwalik’s
denial of taking any part in the attacks. Kwalik has since been scapegoated as a primary
suspect in the attacks and was killed by police on December 16, 2009, temporarily saving
face for police who have thus far been unable to resolve the case. According to Papuan
priest and intellectual Neles Tebay, this is entirely inadequate as a final conclusion
Eben Kirksey, an expert on what has been described as an “analog”
 for the recent
attacks, the 2002 Freeport shootings in Timika that killed three teachers (also blamed
without solid evidence on the TPN) claims that the TNI (Indonesian armed forces) were
the ones with “financial incentive to stage the attack…that left Drew Grant…dead”
. An
ongoing battle has been raging between Indonesian army and police in Papua for
 B Hernawan, ‘Melbourne man’s shooting lost in a Papuan puzzle’ in Canberra Times, October 7, 2009.
 International Crisis Group, op. cit, p. 21
 Tebay, op. cit.
 E McWilliams, ‘Statement on International Crisis Group report – and its coverage’, West Papua
Advocacy Team (http://www.etan.org/news/2010/03wpatigc.htm), March 16, 2010.
 E Kirksey, ‘Indonesia’s police and military at open war’, (http://ebenkirksey.blogspot.com/), July 13,
2009.       13
lucrative security contracts, and in this case the army may have been trying to show the
police up as incompetent providers of Freeport security. After the 2002 Freeport
shootings at Timika, the TNI’s role at Freeport was taken over by the Indonesian police,
denying the TNI the financial benefits of association with Freeport. Since the 2009
shootings however, the TNI has reestablished its presence at Freeport
What is the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, that preoccupies the ICG so
much? Is it really “a militant group of highlanders”
 disenchanted with West Papua’s
peaceful struggle for self-determination as the report claims? We understand the KNPB
to be an organisation that is already unifying factions among West Papua’s independence
leaders, within West Papua and the diaspora. Therefore it is important to offer an
alternative analysis to that of the ICG, based on discussions with the KNPB’s vice
chairperson Victor Yeimo, and other Papuan leaders in 2010.
The KNPB was set up on 19 November 2008 by Buchtar Tabuni and Victor Yeimo, both
of whom currently share a cell (along with 15 others) in Abepura Prison. Tabuni has been
sentenced to three years in prison for peaceful “provocation” during a demonstration in
support of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP). Yeimo is currently
on trial for makar or rebellion for leading a peaceful demonstration on March 10, 2009.
The KNPB was formed specifically to organise demonstrations in support of the IPWP
launch throughout West Papua
. Its genesis was not therefore ideological but rather,
functional, hoping to elicit widespread support from Papuan society. The KNPB has since
evolved to be a mouthpiece for various other Papuan organisations, including the TPN. It
is comprised of both young and older people, students and non-students, highlanders,
islanders and ‘coastals’ (despite the fact that its leaders originate from the highlands)
Its goals are twofold: first to build a united front of West Papuan independence groups
and factions in their struggle for a free West Papua; and second to participate in and
champion this front through medial coverage in the fight for self-determination by way of
a national referendum
In Yeimo’s words:
“KNPB calls for justice, peace and human rights, including the right to selfdetermination…KNPB formed because of Indonesian occupation and
exploitation…I mean people of West Papua live under suffering, and you know
people of West Papua want the right of self-determination, same as the other
nations of the world”
 International Crisis Group, op. cit., p. 19.
 ibid, p. 1.
 ibid, p. 6.
 Webb Gannon, op. cit.
 ibid.       14
The KNPB sees itself as a coordinating body for its member organisations. It serves as
West Papua’s resistance “media”, reporting on all independence related activities in West
Papua - their execution and rationale. The KNPB also has a mobilising function,
organising peaceful demonstrations and campaigns throughout West Papua for merdeka
which, in Yeimo’s words, is “freedom from everything…from exploitation...and from
operations, the campaign that people of West Papua can live by themselves [through]
self-determination without colonisation by Indonesia”
By KNPB leaders’ own account, they are radical in ambition – “yeah, we want
independence, but we have to walk through the peaceful actions…we are not violent
physically, we are not radical physically. But we are radical in talk, in faith”
. Being
radical and being peaceful are not mutually exclusive as the ICG suggests is the case with
the KNPB. The KNPB claims on its website that it “is open to every component of the
national liberation movement of West Papua and does not distinguish [between]
ideological roots, [and] historical and political roots that occur in [factionalism]”
. While
it does not subscribe to any particular ideology, says Yeimo, the KNPB is committed to
working non-violently for peace with justice (although its leaders are well-schooled in all
kinds of liberation theories) toward a referendum on independence for West Papuans,
which, it believes, is the democratic solution for Papua
The KNPB coordinates campaigns among groups and individuals that have at times
disagreed due to ideological and personal differences, including the West Papua National
Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL - an umbrella organisation comprised of groups
working for independence in West Papua and committed to peaceful campaigning); the
West Papua National Authority (WPNA - West Papua’s self-described transitional
government); Benny Wenda in the UK and his followers; highlander-based organisations;
student organisations; the OPM, and the TPN. We asked representatives of several of
these organisations to verify and expand on the information we have received about the
Jacob Rumbiak, Foreign Affairs Coordinator for the WPNA, who is based in Melbourne,
Australia, confirmed that the WPNA and the KNPB work closely together in West Papua,
organising peaceful demonstrations for self-determination, supporting each other’s
political, cultural and organisational strengths, and coordinating information
dissemination. The KNPB is “part of the people power” in West Papua, according to
Rumbiak, and their membership is comprised of people from tribes all around West
Papua. He described Buchtar Tabuni and Victor Yeimo as
…great young Papuan leaders who are well educated and have a deep
appreciation of West Papuan cultures and political ambitions and aspirations.
 KNPB, Facebook home page, (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mount-Hagen-Papua-New-Guinea/WestPapua-National-Committee-WPNC/106873489341438?v=info), Accessed June 28, 2010.
 Webb Gannon, op. cit.       15
They are good organisers, who are respected by people, and they understand
nationalism. They were organising the peace movement very well until they were
Rumbiak’s endorsement further discredits allegations of KNPB’s supposedly violently
Benny Wenda of the Free West Papua Campaign in Oxford, England, confirms that the
KNPB is a media organisation that also “facilitates all the…demonstrations about…the
human right[s] issue[s] in West Papua including supporting self determination ([through
a] referendum)”
. He lists as one of the KNPB’s qualities a lack of “self-interest” –
claiming that it is honest, truthful, and works on behalf of all activist groups in West
Papua who share the goal of independence, regardless of whether such groups and their
membership hail from coastal or highland areas
John Ondawame, vice chairperson of the WPNCL, verified that the KNPB is a member
of the WPNCL, and that Yeimo in particular has a working relationship with WPNCL.
Ondawame maintains that the KNPB carries out peaceful campaigns with the
endorsement of WPNCL’s leaders and “is not a radical group as ICG blamed them…they
are merely a nationalist group that work[s] closely with other nationalist
groups…keeping the spirit of the struggle alive at the [level of] civil society”. He
contends that the KNPB is a powerful organisation, “full of energy and bright ideas” and
popular with young people, while still working closely with other groups too
Frederika Korain of the Forum Demokrasi Rakyat Papua Bersatu (FDRPB), was part of
the Papuan People’s Consultative Assembly consultation in Kota Raja on June 9-10 this
year that produced 11 recommendations for West Papua, and was a signatory to these
recommendations, one of which called for a referendum on independence (the
consultation and recommendations are referred to below). Korain, Benny Giay (one of
West Papua’s most respected intellectuals and theologians) and various church
“moderates” are part of this inter-denominational forum, which advocates dialogue with
Indonesia while simultaneously calling for a referendum on independence, and which has
a nuanced view toward negotiation with Jakarta. Says Korain,
We don’t [fully] agree with the ideas in the LIPI [the Indonesian Institute of
Sciences based in Jakarta] Road Map [an Indonesian initiative calling for dialogue
between Papuans and Jakarta which specifically omits reference to independence]
because they don’t match with Papuan views. LIPI sees the Papuan conflict as
only a development issue and discrimination against Papuans. But it’s also about
the political process from 1961. But the idea of dialogue with Indonesia is a good
 J Elmslie & C Webb Gannon, ‘Interview with Jacob Rumbiak’, June 18, 2010. This interview was
conducted via email.
 J Elmslie & C Webb Gannon, ‘Interview with Benny Wenda’, June 22, 2010. This interview was
conducted via email.
 J Elmslie & C Webb Gannon, ‘Interview with John Otto Ondawame’, June 23, 2010. This email was
conducted via email.       16
idea…the challenge is how to create the moment that Papua and Indonesia can sit
together and talk about our problems and what to do”
. When asked directly
whether the majority of Papuans support a referendum for independence, she said
FDRPB’s views then, while expressed in moderate tones, essentially express the
aspirations of the KNPB.
Although the KNPB has the utmost respect for Papuan priest Father Neles Tebay’s
, which links with the LIPI intitiative, it does not agree that dialogue is the route to
peace with justice in West Papua. It asserts that the problem in West Papua is not just
between Papua and Jakarta, nor is it purely about quality of life in Papua. Because of this,
the KNPB does not want an Aceh-like solution, which they anticipate could be the
outcome of dialogue. Instead, Yeimo on behalf of the KNPB explains that “the main
problem in West Papua is about the political status, it is about the law, political law, legal
international law. So we need international solidarity to solve the problem…no talk or
dialogue between Jakarta and Papua”
. The KNPB wants a referendum for
independence, along the lines of Timor Leste, but without the use of violence on either
Lack of a united front among West Papuans has long been a stumbling block in gaining
international support. Unity is currently coalescing in West Papua and the KNPB is
proving to be a contributing force. Because of this, the reasons for the misgivings the
KNPB has about dialogue as the appropriate way forward (and its preference for a
referendum) must be taken into consideration if the outcomes of the conflict in West
Papua are to be seen as legitimate and just by the majority of the West Papuan nation.
However, as we will discuss in the following section, a united Papuan voice is taking up
the call, in a way unprecedented since the fall of Suharto, for both dialogue and a
referendum for West Papua, accommodating the strategic preferences of diverse West
Papuan groups with a common aspiration – self determination.
Recent significant events for West Papua
In June 2010, two highly significant events occurred which will have a lasting impact on
the political/civil conflict between the West Papuan nationalists and the Indonesian state.
On June 18 the largest mass demonstration by Papuans in over ten years occurred in
Jayapura. The Papuan Spring, the period following President Suharto’s downfall,
culminating in the Musyawarah Besar (Grand Consultation, known as Mubes) of
February 2000 and the Second Papuan Congress of May/June 2000 saw many thousands
 J Elmslie and C Webb Gannon, ‘Interview with Frederika Korain’, June 24, 2010. This interview was
conducted via phone from Sydney to Jayapura.
 Webb Gannon, op. cit.
 ibid.       17
of Papuans on the streets of Jayapura. Some reports put the number of peaceful
demonstrators in June 2010 as high as 10,000
Thousands demonstrate near Jayapura to 'give back' Special Autonomy to Jakarta on June 18, 2010
(Images copyrighted from a protected source)
Demonstrators included members from the Majelis Rakyat Papua (MRP or Papuan
People’s Assembly), the Papua Presidium Council (PDP), and the WPNA. They walked
for 17 kilometers from Kota Raja to Jayapura to the offices of the DPRP (Papuan
People’s Representative Council), demanding that the local legislators symbolically ‘give
back’ Special Autonomy to the Indonesian government. The second event was the
passing in the Vanuatu government of a special bill that officially changes government
policy to one of supporting, and working for, West Papuan independence.
June 18 demonstration
The momentous events of June 18 had been a long time coming. The Special Autonomy
legislation was devised by Jakarta as a move to satisfy Papuans’ demands for
independence following the end of the Suharto regime. It was meant to be a win-win
situation whereby West Papua stayed within the Republic of Indonesia but more revenue
Australia West Papua Association, ’10,000 Masa aksi turun jalan kendaraan mokok atas penyerahan
hasil pleno MRP’, Email network correspondence, June 19, 2010.      18
flowed to the province, which also was to have a much greater degree of local control.
The first draft of the legislation, drawn up by Papuan intellectuals, was largely ignored
and the final version, with diluted local powers, basically imposed by Jakarta. Still many
moderate Papuans, and much of the international community, felt that Special Autonomy
would deliver real benefits to the Papuan people and satisfy their calls for independence.
In reality very few benefited and many Papuans were actually worse off.
Much of the Special Autonomy legislation was never enacted for lack of necessary
regulations, but the financial aspects of the package were, and a large portion of the
royalties received from the logging and mining industries was returned to the province.
Suddenly the provincial government was awash with funds, supposedly for development,
education and health. Instead the pot of money became a catalyst for corruption.
Bureaucracy proliferated as the number of regencies grew from nine to thirty, each one
with its own public service departments as well as its own military, police and
intelligence agencies. Money supposed to be allocated to health and education
expenditure was swallowed up in public servants wages, in buildings and even in funding
local military operations. Health and education services reportedly declined in many
areas. Special Autonomy (or Otonomi Khusus in Bahasa Indonesia, shortened by
Papuans to Otsus) led to a fall in people’s living standards.
Otsus also failed to empower the Papuans politically. The MRP was supposed to be the
local political assembly that reflected the aspirations of the Papuans and was their voice
in dealing with Jakarta, yet it was hamstrung from the start. Because so many enabling
regulations for Otsus were never enacted the MRP remained powerless and largely
ignored by Jakarta and the Indonesian political and military bureaucracy on the ground.
This was a result of fears held by powerful Indonesian nationalists in Jakarta that the
MRP would become a stalking horse for Papuan independence. Even the insipid version
of Otsus forced on the Papuans by Jakarta proved too much of a threat and turned out to
be a hollow promise.
Meanwhile large numbers of Indonesians from other parts of country flooded into West
Papua, making the Papuans a minority in all major urban areas and by 2010 probably a
slight overall minority in the province
. Massive plans for the clear felling of millions of
hectares of rainforest for oil palm plantations and ‘food estates’, with little or no
compensation for the traditional owners, continued to proliferate. Along with migrants
the number of troops and police continued to increase, with new posts and commands
opening across the province. The province of Papua itself was split into two when the
new province of West Papua was created in 2003 (in this report however we use West
Papua to refer to both provinces collectively). This was in complete violation of Article
76 of Law 21/2001, the Special Autonomy law, which said that such an action could only
proceed with the approval of the MRP. Jakarta was treating the Papuans with utter
contempt, not even paying lip service to Otsus. So much for a win-win situation.
 J Elmslie, ‘Not just another disaster’, in Inside Indonesia, (http://www.insideindonesia.org/edition-
97/not-just-another-disaster), July/September 2009.       19
While the Papuans, including the chairperson of the MRP, Agus Alua, criticised Otsus’
severe shortcomings, the rest of the world, including the Australian government, lauded
Otsus as the solution to West Papua’s problems. After nine years this absurd charade has
finally been formally rejected by the Papuans through their own official legislative body,
the MRP. The MRP had asked LP3BH, the Institute for the Study, Advocacy and
Development of Legal Aid in Jayapura, to evaluate Otsus. On June 9 and 10, 2010,
LP3BH’s report was discussed at the MRP building in Kota Raja (near Jayapura) in a
consultation with indigenous Papuan people coming from all over West Papua. They
decided to reject Otsus by ‘giving it back’ to the central government and to instead call
for a referendum on independence: the Papuans had been pushed too far.
The LP3BH report found that Otsus had:
…been a failure because the law has not been implemented in such a way as to
deal with urgent and substantive problems in the socio-economic, political and
cultural aspects of the lives of the indigenous Papuan people. The reason for this
is that no regulations have been enacted to provide the political back-up of
OTSUS regarding initiatives by the provincial government while the government
in Jakarta has failed to provide any political support for the implementation of
In view of all this, the MRP in collaboration with peak Papuan representative groups
developed the following 11 recommendations:
1. That the Special Autonomy Law should be handed back to the Government of
the Republic of Indonesia;
2. That the Papuan people demand that dialogue be held [and] mediated by a
neutral international mediator;
3. That the Papuan people demand the holding of a referendum directed towards
political independence;
4. That the Papuan people demand that the Government of the Republic of
Indonesia recognise the restoration of the sovereignty of people of West Papua
which was proclaimed on 1
 December 1961;
5. That the Papuan people urge the international community to impose an
embargo on international aid being provided for the implementation of Special
Autonomy in the land of Papua;
6. That there is no need for revisions to be made to Law 21/2001 on Special
Autonomy for the Province of Papua and West Papua with reference to Law
35/2008 on Revision of Law 21/2001 bearing in mind that the said Law i[s]
proven to have failed;
 LP3BH, ‘Towards a New Papua’ (translated by TAPOL), June 14, 2010.       20
7. That all proceedings for the election of heads of district throughout the land
Papua should be halted and call on the Governor of Papua and Governor of West
Papua, the DPRP, the DPRD-West Papua and district heads and mayors
throughout the land of Papua [to] immediately discontinue the provision of funds
for the holding of these elections;
8. That the central government, the Province of Papua and the Province of West
Papua as well as districts and municipalities in the land of Papua end
transmigration from outside Papua and impose strict supervision on the flow of
migration by people from outside the land of Papua;
9. That the Papuan people urge the Central Government, the Government of
Province of Papua and the DPRP and the DPRD West Papua to release all Papuan
political prisoners being held in prison everywhere in Indonesia;
10. That the Central Government immediately carry out demilitarisation
throughout of the whole land of Papua;
11. That the consultation held by the MRP and Papuan indigenous groups calls for
the Freeport Indonesia company to be closely down immediately
The formal handing back of Otsus by marching the 17 kilometers from the MRP building
to the DPRP, the provincial parliament of Papua, happened on Friday June 18, 2010. The
11 recommendations made by the MRP on June 14 represent the strongest statements
since 2000 made by official Papuan civil society organisations to the Indonesian
government. The Papuans are rejecting the status quo imposed by Indonesia. They are
calling for dialogue with an international mediator. They are demanding that the issue of
independence be put back on the table. They are urging the international community to
stop financing Special Autonomy as it has become a tool of repression, not of
empowerment. They are demanding the closure of the Freeport mine. These demands are
all hugely significant and Jakarta will ultimately have to respond. Marching with
members of the MRP was also the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP), the Papuan Customary
Council, whose chairperson, Forkorus Yoboisembut, declared:
Since the central government is not serious about our autonomy, we want a
referendum on independence for Papua.
This was a momentous event because such a broad cross section of Papuan people,
particularly the MRP (which had been created by the Otsus legislation) and the DPRP
(which is widely seen as a tool of Jakarta) are engaged in the ‘return’ of Otsus. So too
was the WPNA and the PDP, known collectively now as the Papuan Consensus Team.
 Papuan People’s Consultative Assembly and Indigenous People of Papua, ‘Recommendations’, June 14,
 B Ambarita & AFP, ‘Papuans march on provincial capital to demand independence’, Jakarta Globe, June
18, 2010.       21
The KNPB were also present, its spokesman Mako Tabuni saying that the universal
aspiration of the seven traditional regions of the Land of Papua was that a referendum is
the best solution for the Papuan people.
Demonstrators call for a referendum in Jayapura on June 18, 2010
(Images copyrighted from a protected source)
The decision to hand back Special Autonomy and demand a referendum on independence
has huge implications for Jakarta and the Papuans. The charade of Special Autonomy as
the panacea for West Papua’s ills is over; the wafer thin shield it provided for the
international community to hide behind now shattered. A deeper look into the quagmire
is now needed to see what the future might hold. The Indonesian government has a tricky
problem on its hands, a problem of its own making through its contemptuous treatment of
Papuans for so long.
Vanuatu resolutions
While Papuan activists on the ground were responsible for the events in Jayapura on June
18, their expatriate counterparts in Vanuatu also achieved a major victory the following
day. A motion was introduced into the Vanuatu Parliament that strongly supports West
Papua’s independence, complete with concrete measures aimed at achieving that goal.
 Tapol, ‘JUBI: KNPB says referendum must be held; Journalists in Timika and Merauke intimidated’,
Tapol, June 16, 2010       22
This is a major change in policy by the Vanuatu government. While an independent West
Papua was widely supported by the general population of Vanuatu, including the
powerful Council of Chiefs, the government had been more circumspect. Ever since
Vanuatu’s own independence in 1980, successive governments had spoken out on West
Papua’s behalf, given refuge to Papuan activists and sponsored trips by Papuan
politicians to the United Nations and elsewhere, but never had they previously officially
enshrined a foreign policy goal of assisting in fostering an independent West Papua. This
policy was made clear with the passing of the landmark Wantok Blong Yumi (Our Close
Friends) act
During an extraordinary parliamentary sitting, the head of the Government, Hon. Prime
Minister, Edward Natapei MP, and the leader of the Opposition Hon. Maxime Carlot
Korman MP, jointly sponsored a motion in parliament to clarify Vanuatu’s foreign policy
regarding West Papua. It was passed with bipartisan support to become an Act of
Parliament. The initial move was proposed by Independent Member for Port Vila, the
Hon. Ralph Regenvanu MP. During the May 13 ordinary session, Hon. Regenvanu tabled
a Petition of the People of Vanuatu calling for clear foreign policy on West Papua
This was a significant development and indeed a historic one. The Wantok Blong Yumi
act will allow the government to develop specific policies on how to support the
independence struggle of West Papua. The following proposals from the Peoples’
Petition could also become policy instruments of the bill, including to:
1.  Sponsor and pass a motion in national Parliament officially declaring that Vanuatu’s
foreign policy is to support the achievement of the independence of West Papua;
2. Sponsor a resolution at the 2010 Melanesian Spearhead Group’s Leaders Summit that
the independence movement in West Papua be given Observer Status at the MSG;
3. Sponsor a resolution at the 2010 Pacific Island Forum Leaders Summit that the
independence movement in West Papua be given Observer Status at the Forum;
4. Sponsor resolutions at the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s Leaders Summit, the Pacific
Islands Forum Leaders Summit and the United Nations calling for fact-finding
missions to be sent by each of these bodies to West Papua to investigate alleged
violations of the human rights of its Melanesian populations;
5. Become the official state sponsor of the case of West Papua in the International Court
of Justice seeking a judgment on the legality of the 1969 “Act of Free Choice”;
6.  Sponsor a resolution in the United Nations to put West Papua back on the United
Nations’ list of Non Self-governing Territories;
 West Papua National Authority, ‘A Motion on Foreign Policy on West Papua has been passed in the
Vanuatu Parliament’, WPNCL Press Release, June 20, 2010.
 ibid       23
7. Create a West Papua Desk in the Department of Foreign Affairs with a budget
sufficient to facilitate the Government’s international advocacy efforts in support of
West Papua’s independence;
8. Ratify the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to provide
Vanuatu with an avenue for additional support to the people of West Papua
While all these proposals will cause consternation and even fury in Jakarta, it is point
five that will have the most impact. What is being called for here is an “advisory
opinion” from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Indonesia’s claim of
sovereignty over West Papua. This entails a member state putting a resolution to the
General Assembly of the United Nations requesting such an advisory opinion, and
Vanuatu has expressed its willingness to be that member state and the official sponsor of
such a resolution. While it probably will not threaten Indonesia’s control over the
territory, recognised as it is by almost all UN members, a negative finding will deeply
undermine Indonesia’s legitimacy. It will be a decisive blow in the ‘history wars’ that
rage between Indonesia’s view of West Papua’s incorporation into the Indonesian
Republic and the views held by the Papuans themselves.
Advisory opinions can be requested by other member states without needing the consent
of an interested party, such as Indonesia in the case of West Papua
. Other recent
examples have been when Kuwait sought an opinion on the legality of Israel building the
security wall in Palestine, as well as advisory opinions on territorial disputes in Namibia,
Western Sahara and Kosovo
. Such an opinion holds great weight. The support of
Vanuatu in pursuing this action is a major coup for the West Papuan nationalists, and a
bitter setback for Jakarta.
A demonstration in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in support of West Papuan independence, on March 5, 2010
(Photo courtesy of ASAP – Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific)
 J Robinson, ‘Self-determination and the limits of justice: West Papua and East Timor’, in, Helen Sykes,
ed., ‘Future Justice, Future Leaders’, Sydney, 2010, p.181.
 ibid.      24
TNI ‘sweeping’ in Puncak Jaya
Shortly after the release of the ICG report on March 11, a major military “sweeping
operation” began in the central highlands area aimed at capturing Goliat Tabuni and his
forces. This followed a series of deadly attacks during the course of 2009 on Indonesian
drivers, construction workers and military personnel, which extended into early 2010.
The latest attack on February 15 resulted in a Brimob officer being killed and his assault
rifle being stolen in Mulia, the capital of Puncak Jaya. All of these attacks have been
attributed to Tabuni’s forces, although tension and competition between Brimob and the
TNI in the region is endemic. As so often is the case in West Papua, the true perpetrators
of these crimes is unclear, although Tabuni, Brimob and the TNI would all have had
possible motives for perpetrating these attacks. The regent of Puncak Jaya, Lukas
Enembe, has blamed the TNI and Brimob for inflaming the situation, and has asked them
to withdraw from the area to allow for local government negotiation with Tabuni: his
calls however have been ignored.
In this context, the ICG report can be seen as legitimising the TNI’s military operations
in the central highlands. By both blaming the violence around Freeport on Kelly Kwalik
and emphasising the relationship between the KNPB and Goliat Tabuni (and his
followers), while characterising each of the groups as extremist and violent, this report
provides a rationale for military presence in the highlands, thereby serving to exacerbate
civilian suffering. And indeed, rather than following Enembe’s diplomatic approach,
Indonesia has once again chosen to pursue the hard line security option with all that that
entails. Following is an excerpt from a report by the West Papua Advocacy Team in
Washington DC dated June 18, 2010:
[Puncak Jaya’s] civilians, in particular those who have fled to the forests, face
health and possibly life threatening conditions including lack of access to food,
adequate shelter, and medical services. In…past such "sweeping operations",
Indonesian security forces prevented provision of humanitarian assistance to these
besieged populations.
Reports from the field also tell of security forces targeting…civilians through
widespread arrests.
In addition:
• A church in Kayogwebur district Tingginambut has been taken over as
headquarters for the BRIMOB. Local people [are] unable to worship there;
• Local people are forced to do labour tasks for Indonesian military;
• In the district of Kampong Tinggineri Tingginambut, a pregnant woman
was raped by BRIMOB personnel in the first half of June;       25
• 12 houses and 2 churches have been burned by security forces in
Gwenggu Pilia;
• In Pos Nalime Tingginambut District residents have been forced to clear
their gardens and prepare landing positions for military helicopters;
• On June 11, BRIMOB conducted a residential sweep search of all houses
on the road between Ilu and Mulia, detaining anyone without
identification, putting them on army trucks. (Most local people do not
have ID and [are] now afraid to leave their homes. As a result, gardens are
untended and local commerce is crippled
We believe that the ICG report has not only had the effect of encouraging TNI operations
in the highlands but has also ignored the effects of these “sweeping operations” on the
civilian population in the area. The report has also led to a distortion in the coverage of
the conflict in West Papua as a whole. For instance, a recent report in Asia Times by
Sarah Schonhardt relies heavily on ICG Report No 188 and on comments by the ICG’s
Southeast Asia specialist Sidney Jones in its portrayal of West Papuan activists, in
particular the KNPB, as being “at the forefront of efforts to use conflict to achieve greater
sovereignty”. It even describes the KNPB as “an armed guerrilla group” similar to the
. This is grossly misleading and without foundation, demonstrating how a
supposedly neutral body such as the ICG is creating a self-reinforcing bias in the media
against Papuans.
This report shows how the ICG has played a counter-productive and misleading role in
what is a pivotal moment in the political revolution in West Papua. Internationally
funded organisations like the ICG have a responsibility to analyse conflicts across the
world from a balanced and objective perspective. By their very nature, political conflicts
are complex, contentious and (often) apparently intractable. The conflict in West Papua
certainly suits these descriptors, and appropriate ICG analysis could potentially be very
valuable in bringing a resolution closer, however this has not been the case with regard
to Report No.188.
As we have demonstrated in this report, the ICG’s portrayal of the KNPB as a militantly
radical organisation is wrong. Its goal of a referendum for independence for West Papua
is shared by organisations representing Papuans across the political spectrum. There is no
evidence that the KNPB endorses violent resistance to Indonesian rule, contrary to ICG
claims, despite its empathy for Papua’s freedom fighters. Likewise, there is no strong
evidence that the OPM/TPN under Kelly Kwalik was responsible for the death of
 West Papua Advocacy Team, ‘Concerns about operations in Puncak Jaya region of West Papua’, WPAT,
June 18, 2010.
 S Schonhardt, ‘Papua’s separatist fires burn bright’, in Asia Times,
(http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/LF24Ae01.html), June 24, 2010.       26
Australian Drew Grant. Kwalik’s own statements make clear that he (Kwalik) was
involved in separate armed conflict around the mine, but his denial of involvement in
Grant’s death was accepted by the Indonesian police that were working on the case. His
subsequent killing is widely seen as a political assassination in West Papua; a means of
scapegoating the OPM/TPN for Grant’s murder to appease Western interests. The ICG’s
belief that the OPM/TPN was responsible for Grant’s murder in effect laid the ground for
the recent TNI operations in the central highlands, and has discredited legitimate West
Papuan resistance in the eyes of the international community.
The ICG report, by portraying the KNPB led by Victor Yeimo as a dangerously radical
and violent organisation with direct links to armed insurgents such as Goliat Tabuni and
Kelly Kwalik clearly impacts on Yeimo’s trial. When it became obvious after his arrest
that police did not have the evidence to prosecute him for masterminding the Abepura
police station attack, his charges mysteriously switched to ‘rebellion’, ostensibly for
leading a peaceful demonstration on March 10, 2010. In this report we have rejected the
accusations that the KNPB endorsed violence as being unfounded, yet we see such
accusations and characterisations repeated in international media sources quoting the
ICG report. This will obviously be counterproductive for Victor’s presumption of
We do however share the ICG’s fears of the potential for escalating violence in West
Papua. Since the ICG report was published in March, a pivotal point in Papuan history
has been reached. This is the result of two groundbreaking events: the Vanuatu
parliamentary motion and the MRP resolution calling for a referendum on independence.
Together, these two events shatter the status quo that has prevailed since the repression of
the Papuan Spring from August 2000. Jakarta’s contemptuous refusal to engage in any
meaningful dialogue with the Papuans has caused complete disillusionment with the
Indonesian government. Demands to make Special Autonomy work have now given way
to demands for a referendum on independence.
The Vanuatu motion, in effect officially sponsoring West Papuan independence, will
cause heartache in Jakarta but jubilation in Jayapura. Never before has such a high degree
of international recognition been achieved by the Papuans. The sponsor of the Vanuatu
motion, Ralph Regenvanu, represents the views of a new generation of Melanesian
leaders spread throughout the Pacific, including, leaders from Papua New Guinea, Fiji
and West Papua. The issue of West Papuan independence, instead of dying out on the
international stage, is currently experiencing a second wind.
The calls by the MRP for a referendum on independence, and the “giving back” of
Special Autonomy to the DPRP mark the final demise of the Special Autonomy initiative
of 2001. Jakarta’s obstinate refusal to fully implement its own package ultimately caused
Special Autonomy’s comprehensive failure. This is a huge setback for Indonesia because
it has discredited what had formerly been seen by many, including the international
community, as a viable and just compromise in the West Papua conflict.        27
The real danger in Papua is that all of the events discussed in this report will lead to even
larger-scale demonstrations that run the risk of increasingly violent military responses.
The ICG, in raising the specter of the Timor Leste Santa Cruz Massacre of 1991, is
disturbingly apt. This report has found that what the Papuans want is meaningful dialogue
with Jakarta, with international mediation and without preconditions, including an agenda
canvassing the most contentious of issues including their political status and history since
1962. Ramifications of an escalating conflict in West Papua will affect Australia, the
USA and the Pacific Island states. Therefore it is both appropriate and morally incumbent
on the international community to at least listen to West Papuans’ legitimate demands for
dialogue and a referendum, coming as they are from an increasingly unified West Papuan
body politic.
This report is dedicated to the memory of Kelly (Kletus) Kwalik, long-time OPM-TPN
commander, West Papuan patriot and a national symbol of resistance against
oppression. Kelly Kwalik was assassinated by Indonesian police in Timika, West Papua,
on December 16, 2009.      28
About the authors
Dr Jim Elmslie is founding Co-covener of the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace
and Conflict Studies, the University of Sydney. He has researched West Papuan politics
since his first visit there in 1987. His Ph.D. at Sydney University was entitled, ‘Irian Jaya
Under the Gun: Indonesian economic development versus West Papuan nationalism’.
Camellia Webb Gannon is a Ph D candidate at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
(CPACS), University of Sydney, researching West Papua’s independence movement.
Professor Peter King is a Research Associate in Government and International Relations
at the University of Sydney. He was the founding President, later Director, of the Centre
for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at Sydney University in 1988. Since 2000 he has
been Co-convener of its West Papua Project. His publications include ‘West Papua and
Indonesia since Suharto: Independence, Autonomy or Chaos?’ (UNSW Press,
2004); (with John Wing) ‘Genocide in West Papua?’ CPACS, August 2005; “‘Corruption
Ruins Everything”: Gridlock over Suharto’s Legacy in Indonesia’, The Asia Pacific
Journal: Japan Focus [online], February 2008, and ‘Lowying the Boom on West Papua:
Self-determination Unthinkable for Australia's Leading Foreign Policy Think Tank’,
West Papua Project, CPACS [online], August 2008.
About the West Papua Project
This project seeks to promote peaceful dialogue between the people of West Papua and
Indonesia, and to promote conflict resolution as a viable alternative to the current and
escalating conflict.
• Establish relevant links with concerned NGOs, academics and parliamentarians in
Australia, West Papua and Indonesia. The resulting networks will serve as a
conduit for the dissemination of public information and as a key source of support
for conflict resolution
• Raise public awareness of the conflict between West Papua and Indonesia with
particular reference to the human rights implications and the threat to the stability
of the South Pacific region.
Project description
This project aims to put in place concrete strategies near achieve the goal of peaceful
dialogue between Indonesia and West Papua. These strategies will consist of
strengthening networks, addressing the information deficit on West Papua through
research and a public awareness campaign, and promoting education on conflict
resolution. Center for Peace and Conflict Studies
The University of Sydney
Mackie Building K01
NSW 2006 Australia
                                                                www.arts.usyd.edu.au                     ISBN: 978-0-9808286-0-3

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