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Home » , , , » West Papuan Futures – part three, the independence struggle is here to stay

West Papuan Futures – part three, the independence struggle is here to stay

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on October 15, 2011 | 3:03 AM

By Setyo Budi*

This is the third part of an article that looks at a fragmentation that appears within the Indonesian government and West Papuan Independent Movement on the issue of West Papuan independence. Click to read the first part and second part of the article. This article has been published in Arena Magazine, 
West Papuan soldier
At about the same time that Sujanto was delivering his speech in Puncak, three soldiers from Infantry Battalion 751 were shot, one while on patrol and two at their post in Kalome, Tingginambut. On 12 July two soldiers from Battalion 753 and a civilian were wounded in another attack in Kalome, while several civilians were wounded as the TNI were searching for the perpetrators. Anton Tabuni, secretary-general of the OPM for the Central Highlands region claimed responsibility for the attacks, which he said in a press conference on 5 August were ‘a way of showing to the world’ that the struggle for West Papuan independence is here to stay.

The National Committee for West Papua is another group that rejected the dialogue process. They have argued that the goal should be a referendum not dialogue. Demonstrations organised by them on 2 August were attended by thousands of West Papuans in Jayapura and other cities in West Papua. The demonstrations coincided with a seminar on the 1969 Act of Free Choice held in Oxford, organised by International Lawyers for West Papua.
To date there is no a formal government response to the conference outcome, but Rumakiek is hopeful that the dialogue will go ahead. ‘We will keep talking to Indonesia as a friend, as a neighbour’, said Rumakiek. ‘The international community also wants Indonesia to engage in the dialogue.’
Kopassus forces. Photo courtesy of The Age
International pressure worries the nationalists in government. East Timor has set a precedent for Indonesia.  And perhaps for this reason the Indonesian Special Forces, Kopassus, has spied on human rights activists and government officials in West Papua and abroad. Recently documents were leaked that range from internal briefings, presentations, teaching tools and intelligence products such as daily and quarterly Kopassus reports to a paper “Study on the Claim of the Historical Correction of the Act of Free Choice” on the status of Papua under international law.
These approximately 500 pages of documents from 2006 to 2009 include detailed reports of military surveillance of civilians and provide military perspectives on social and political issues in the area. Most are from Indonesia’s Kopassus and the Cendrawasih military command in Jayapura. ‘The Kopassus documents show the deep military paranoia in Papua that conflates peaceful political expression with criminal activity’, stated Elaine Person, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in the organisation’s press release.
One of the documents, ‘Anatomy of Papuan Separatists’, reveals that Kopassus has classified public seminars, demonstrations and press conferences as pro-separatism activities. It contains detailed information about organisational structures, figures in the OPM and NGO activists. Prominent West Papuan leaders such as Barnabas Suebu, the Governor of Papua province, John Otto Ondamawe, Rex Rumakiek, and Benny Wenda are noted as being under surveillance. US senators, New Zealand members of parliament, Australian politicians, journalist and academics were, similarly, listed as under surveillance. A separate document describes a surveillance operation in 2011, which makes it clear that such surveillance continues to this day.
Indonesian soldier in East Timor
What the Indonesian military is doing is familiar to activists. During the struggle for independence in East Timor, the Indonesian military used surveillance to monitor and control the movement of Falintil guerrilla fighters, human rights activists, students and others, including the church. Later the military also set up militia groups to intimidate those who supported independence. A similar process is happening in West Papua.
A local source has said that a new militia organisation, Malenesia Papua for Indonesia, was formed early this month. It is suggested that this is a step taken to counter the current political situation in the region. Eurico Guterres, a notorious East Timorese militia leader who now resides in Indonesia, will work with this organisation. In East Timor militia members who were recruited, trained and aided by TNI were used to fight those who struggled for independence. This conflict was then used as justification for military intervention.
The timing of the formation of new militia coincides with the organising of Papua Peoples’ Congress III that will be held in October this year. Five thousand people are expected to attend the congress from Indonesia and abroad. Koffi Annan, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Pope Benediktus XVI and Desmond Tutu will be invited as keynote speakers. The congress is designed as an avenue for West Papuans to decide on future development in the region and to empower indigenous Papuans in all aspects of life.  The congress will be used to formulate a strategy for the West Papuans’ future.
As a strategy to bolster the dialogue with Indonesia, the West Papuan leadership has lobbied diplomats from various countries. They have used the latest Pacific Island Forum as an avenue to promote interest in the situation in West Papua. The outcome so far seems positive, with the New Zealand government saying that in principal it will be ready to facilitate the dialogue.
Another positive outcome of the Forum for West Papuans came from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, who stated that the issue of human rights is something that should be discussed with the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. Although this is a very positive indication of movement forward for West Papuans, the impact will not be immediate. Because any such process will be implemented through recommendations of member countries and before passing through the United Nations Assembly, as noted by Rex Rumakiek, ‘It has a long way to go’.
* Setyo Budi is an Indonesian journalist who has reported on East Timor. He now lives in Chewton
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