WPCC demands to stop the criminalisation of human rights defenders

The West Papua Council of Churches (WPCC) has released on 21 November 2021 a moral call regarding the conflict between the TPN PB and the TNI/Police, the unilateral approval of Special Autonomy, the increasing Islamisation of Papua, and the criminalisation of leaders and human rights activists, among others. Currently, there are still conflicts ongoing between the TPN PB and the Indonesian Army and Police in Intan Jaya Regency, Star Mountains Regency, Nduga Regency, Maybrat Regency, Yahukimo Regency and Puncak Papua Regency. The combined army and police security forces are still conducting sweeping exercises in civilian settlements with the argument that they are looking for TPNPB members. As a result, many Papuans have taken and continue to take refuge in the forest or in neighbouring districts.

download-button

MORAL CALL FROM WEST PAPUA COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. There are those who cry out in the desert: Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight the way for Him. (Matthew: 2-3)

 As Church Leaders who observe the condition of the land of Papua, which is still lamenting, and is still grieving due to the conflict between the Papuan Nation who demand Political Rights for Independence and the Indonesian Government who fights for Papua as part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. It turns out that the declaration of Peace in Papua (Papua and West Papua Provinces) which was read before state officials has never been realized. Therefore, in line with the moral appeal of 194 Catholic priests to address the situation in Papua, we convey the following:

 

A. THE CONFLICT TPNPB VS TNI/POLICE AND THE DISPLACEMENT OF PAPUAN PEOPLE

 

As we enter the middle of November 2021, we note that the Indonesian government is increasingly carrying out a policy of systemic racism, criminalization, marginalization and militarization in the context of the political occupation of Papua. Political elites, bureaucracy, TNI/Police (Indonesian National Army and Police of the Republic of Indonesia), and Indonesian academics continue to surround Papua with various narratives and merciless policies. The experience of living together for 58 years has proven that the Indonesian government has always viewed Papua as an empty land, a no man's land. This experience has been extremely heartbreaking and demeans the dignity of God's people in the Land of Papua.

 

Within the 20 years of the implementation of Special Autonomy, there have been many violations of human rights in Papua. The Indonesian government has conducted 15 operations in Papua to reduce conflict. The freedom to express opinions continues to be silenced. Likewise, the UN Human Rights Council and the international community still have no access to visit Papua.

 

At the time we issued this call, there are still conflicts ongoing between the TPNPB and the Army and Police in 6 districts: Intan Jaya Regency, Star Mountains Regency, Nduga Regency, Maybrat Regency, Yahukimo Regency and Puncak Papua Regency. The combined army and police security forces are still conducting sweeping exercises in civilian settlements with the argument that they are looking for TPNPB members. As a result, many Papuans have chosen to take refuge in the forest or in neighboring districts. About 60,000 of Gods people have fled from their homes. Many children and mothers became victims and died during the evacuation.

 

1) Intan Jaya Regency
The Intan Jaya conflict has been ongoing since October 25, 2019. During these two years, there have been 28 incidents which have claimed the lives of 47 people. The victims who were civilians (Papuans and non-Papuans) total 31 people (16 died, 12 people were injured and 3 residents of Intan Jaya were victims of kidnapping and enforced disappearances). From TNI/Police there were 14 people (7 people died and 7 were injured with gunshot wounds) while 2 people from the TPNPB side died. More than 3,000 people took refuge in the Church and in nearby areas. The number of joint military and police officers continues to be increased in Intan Jaya Regency.

 

2) Star Mountains Regency (Kiwirok)
We note that after the death of a health worker, Sister Gabriela Meilan in Kiwirok, Star Mountains Regency, the racism attitudes re-emerged from the Chairperson of the MPR RI (People's Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia), Bambang Susantyo who asked the Government and TNI to deploy troops from the 3 main forces (army ground troops, Navy and Air Force) to carry out operations in Papua. In the Kiwirok District there is still ongoing firefights between the joint TNI/Police forces and the TPNPB. In the armed conflict 1 TPNPB member named Elly M. Bidana was shot by TNI troops and died. Also, at different times TPNPB shot two TNI members, Private Ida Bagus Putu (died) and Sutarmidji (gunshot wound) and 1 member of the Indonesian National Police, Muhammad Kurdiadi (died).

 

In the second week of October 2021, security forces were suspected of dropping mortar bombs on 4 community settlements (Pelebib Village, Kiwi Village, Delpem Village and Lolim Village). As a result of this conflict, about 5,000 local residents have taken refuge in the forest and nearby villages and crossed into the neighboring country of PNG (Papua New Guinea).

 

3) Maybrat Regency
We also note that up to now around 2,768 members of our congregations are refugees in Maibrat Regency, West Papua Province, following the attack on the Koramil Post, Kisor District, Maybrat Regency on September 2, 2021, which resulted in 4 TNI members being killed . The attack was5ftr allegedly carried out by TPNPB troops. After this attack, 4 companies of TNI and police troops were deployed to Maybrat.

 

According to reports we have received from the field, the number of victims of Violence and Arrests by officials are: 34 people, consisting of: 31 people who were arrested and questioned, 2 people were detained and questioned, 1 person was intimidated. Of the total 31 people who have been arrested and detained for questioning, 8 have been named suspects and are still being held, and 23 have been released after being questioned. Of the 8 people who were named as suspects, 5 people were students, 4 of them were children, 1 was a teenager, 3 others were adults. Meanwhile, out of a total of 23 people who were arrested and 11 were detained for interrogation including 1 child and 1 baby, the other 10 were adults. The total number of people who were victims of violence and arrests of the Indonesian National Police and TNI officers between September 2 until now is a total of 16 people and 1 child.

 

We also received a report that one church member died in the refugee camp. 15 GKI congregations and 11 Catholic congregations could not return home and the villages around the Aifat area were empty due to fear and trauma due to the ongoing sweeping by the combined TNI/Police troops.

 

This incident in the Papuan Bird's Head incident reminded the public of the massacre that occurred to the Maybrat tribe in which at least 1,500 people were killed through military operations involving the three military forces and the police during the period 1965-1970. This means that the struggle and sacrifice of the Papuan people in Maybrat is not an event that just happened in September 2021 but has been happening for a long time (1965).

 

4) Yahukimo Regency
In Yahukimo Regency, there have been several firefights between the joint TNI/Police troops and the TPNPB troops. In several previous incidents, TPNPB members killed security forces members and several workers, who TPNPB said were spies for members of the TNI/Police.

 

Furthermore, on September 2, 2021 one of the leaders of the Yahukimo TPNPB, Senate Soli was arrested and shot in the right leg. He was then taken for treatment at the Dekai hospital, the capital city of Yahukimo Regency, then continued treatment at the Bhayangkara Hospital belonging to the Papua Police and on 27 July 2021, he died in this hospital. On November 20, another conflict occurred when TPNPB members attacked TNI troops and 1 TNI member Sertu Ari Baskoro died and Captain Inf Arfiandi Sukamto was injured.

 

5) Puncak Papua Regency
Since the beginning of this year until November 2021 in Puncak Papua district, there have been several conflicts between the TNI/Police and the TPNPB. During the conflict in this district, several Papuan civilians have been victims of shootings and killings. So far, around 16 civilians have been victims of shootings and killings. At the same time, there were also victims among the TNI/Police and members of the TPNPB.

 

As a result of this conflict, around 3,000 people from more than 23 villages in Puncak Papua Regency chose to flee their homes. Since the TPNPB shot the Head of the Papuan Intelligence Agency, Brigadier General TNI, I Gusti Putu Danny Nugraha Karya, the number of TNI/Polri troops has increased in Puncak Regency. They currently occupy several government offices and churches. We learned from members of our congregations that the joint TNI/Police officers took items from the homes of people who had fled and sold them in the town of Ilaga.

 

6) Nduga Regency
The Nduga conflict started in December 2018 and was still ongoing at the time we issued this call. As a result of this conflict over 3 years (December 2018-November 2021) 47,000 congregation members have been displaced. Many civilians have been victims during this conflict. As per the reports we have received around 295 civilians have died. Apart from being shot by the security forces, most of them died as refugees due to the unavailability of food and medicine.

 

Based on past experience and recent facts, we conclude that the Indonesian government still chooses the path of violence in dealing with the Papuan conflict.

 

We conclude that all of these events are an integral part of the politics of systemic racism. Buzzer groups suspected of being organised by Indonesian intelligence and government support groups, continue to spread hoax news or opposition news about Papua based on racist sentiments towards Papua. Understanding the roots of the conflict and seeing the current situation in Papua which continues to escalate and concern us, we state that it is time for the international parties, especially the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the actors, problems and solutions to the Papuan conflict.

 

B. UNILATERAL APPROVAL OF SPECIAL AUTONOMY, ORGANISATION OF THE NATIONAL GAMES XX AND PARALYMPICS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOURNING OF THE PAPUAN PEOPLE

 

1. On many occasions we have called for the government to listen to the voices of Papuans who reject Papua's Special Autonomy. At the same time we have also called for a dignified Peace Dialogue between the Indonesian government and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. The voices of the Papuan people regarding the rejection and failure of the 2021 Papua Special Autonomy have been silenced with various pressures. Likewise, the voices of institutions in Papua that were born from Special Autonomy, such as the Papuan People's Assembly, have been silenced by the security forces. With various manipulations and tricks based on fascist views, in July 2021 the Government extended the Special Autonomy Law by unilaterally ratifying Law No. 2 in 2021. We witnessed a handful of party elites, bureaucratic elites, and certain ministers making Special Autonomy a living proposal for material interests, economic investment, strengthening the military base in Papua and perpetuating their political power.

 

2. Just for the sake of smoothing the ratification of the Papua Special Autonomy Law Volume 2, the Government has given the new label of terrorists to Papuans. Several Free Papuan Political fighters including Victor Yeimo were arrested on the pretext of alleged action on racism in August 2019.

 

3. Special Autonomy Volume 2 of 2021, was made by and for the benefit of Jakarta in order to accelerate the death knell of Papuans through the expansion of civil government infrastructure with the division of regencies and provinces as a medium for Indonesian occupation from other islands in Indonesia to come to occupy and control the Land of Papua. Special Autonomy Volume 2 also provides an opportunity to accelerate the development of TNI/Police infrastructure in Papua as a tool of the State for oppression and terror of God's people in Papua. Militarism, Indonesian civilian occupation and investors have allied to destroy Papuans.

 

4. Special Autonomy Volume 2 of 2021, made by and for the benefit of Jakarta in the context of accelerating the death knell of Papuans through the expansion of civil government infrastructure with the division of regencies and provinces as a medium for Indonesian occupation of other islands in Indonesia to come to occupy and control the land of Papua. Special Autonomy Volume 2 also provides an opportunity to accelerate the development of TNI/Police infrastructure in Papua as a tool of the State in oppression and terror against God's people in Papua. Militarism, the Indonesian civilian occupation and investors have allied to destroy Papuans.

 

5. The government also silences and criminalizes human rights institutions and activists from Indonesia who speak out about situations of human rights violations, military businesses, investment interests by government officials, political elites, bureaucracy, and retired TNI/Police in Papua. The criminalization of Pak Haris Azhar and the Director of Kontras, Fatia Maulidiyanti by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Lieutenant General Retired Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan at the Metro Jaya Police on 22 September 2021 and the terror bombing of the parents of Papuan Human Rights Lawyer, Veronika Koman on 7 November 2021 by unknown persons, we see as an effort by the State to silence critical voices over the Papua situation that has been covered up by the Indonesian government until now.

 

6. In an atmosphere of mourning Papua, the Government also held PEPARNAS (National Paralympic Week) XVI in early to mid-November 2021 in Jayapura Papua.

 

7. The Papuan National Games XX and Papuan Paralympic Games XVI activities were opened and closed by President Joko Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin. The President and Vice President of Indonesia while in Papua did not discuss the resolution of the protracted Papua conflict. They turned a blind eye and heart to the Papua conflict. On the other hand, at the same time the TNI and POLRI continued to carry out operations in several areas in Papua. According to Law No. 34 of 2004, the authority to deploy the TNI is in the hands of the President, and must be approved by the Indonesian Parliament. If there is no agreement, then the President must stop the deployment of TNI forces. Until now, Law Enforcement Operations and Military Operations in Papua do not have a Presidential Decree approved by the Indonesian Parliament (DPR RI). If this is true, we can conclude that the Military Operations carried out on the land of Papua are illegal.

 

C. INCREASING MIGRATION, ISLAMISATION AND CRIMINALISAITON OF LEADERS IN THE LAND PAPUA

 

1. With the argument that as a country with a majority Muslim population, in various parts of Indonesia and in Papua, Islamization projects continue to increase from time to time, the civilian government, TNI/Police and allied politicians make the mission of the Islamic religion a success in Papua. We have witnessed the construction of churches in various parts of Indonesia being banned, destroyed, burned and bombed. It is a fact that the lives of Christians in Indonesia are not safe. At the same time, churches in the interior of Papua; Nduga, Jila, Bela, Alama, Mapenduma, Puncak Jaya have been destroyed and burned by the military since 1970 - until now. Likewise, the priests and pastors are stigmatized, put under suspicion and then shot dead.

 

2. Recently,and more and more intensively and systematically children are been taken from the interior with the lure of sending them to school for free and then sending them to the island of Java. During 2005-2013, almost 200 children from highlands, mostly from Wamena, Yahukimo and surrounding areas were brought to Java. When they arrived in Java, they were surprised because they were not sent to school but were sent to Islamic boarding schools. As a result some of them ran away. Many children in the interior of Papua became victims and died on the island of Java.

 

3. After the end of religious conflicts in Maluku and Poso-Sulawesi, transnational Islam members of the Indonesian Hizbut Tahrir group, Jemaah Tahligh and Salifi-Wahhabi entered Papua. This group was marked by the entry of the remaining members of Laskar Jihad to Papua after they ceased to operate in Ambon. In Papua they spread in Manokwari, Kaimana, Sorong, Jayapura, Merauke and other places. The negative impact of their exodus to Papua were small-scale conflicts in Manokwari and Kaimana, one of the causes of which was the presence of the remaining Laskar Jihad veterans in 2006. The arrival of Ustad Ja'far Umar Thalib (JUT), the commander of Laskar Jihad in Malaku in Papua, especially in Keerom led to an incident which occurred in Koya on February 27, 2019 as part of the Trans-National Islam in Papua. The presence of this group disturbs the harmonious relationship of traditional Islam that has been built for generations among Papuans in the Fakfak Region, Kaimana and surrounding areas.

 

4. The construction of houses of worship and Islamic boarding schools is growing rapidly in Papua. In Jayapura City and Regency in 2021, 127 mosques, including prayer rooms, have been established. This number is growing rapidly. In 1969, only 1 mosque was located at the end of the printing road in the city of Jayapura. Rapid developments have also occurred in Keerom, Merauke, Sorong City, Sorong, Manokwari, Fak-Fak, Kaimana, Nabire, Biak and Timika districts. The districts in the northern coastal areas, southern regions and the Bird's Head of Papua mentioned above have experienced rapid development.

 

5. With the same mission, the civilian government and intelligence through members of the congregations and certain pastors have divided the unity of churches in Papua from within, including the Baptist Synod, KINGMI Papua and several other churches.

 

6. In the midst of the situation of control over Papua as described above, we appreciate that the Papua KINGMI Synod Conference took place from 1-6 November 2021 at the Kingmi Mile 32 Church, Mimika Regency, Papua. We express our gratitude to Rev. Dr. Benny Giay, the former Chair of the Synod, who for 10 years pastored the KINGMI Papuans well and we also congratulate the new Synod Chair, Pastor Tilas Mom.

 

7. We appreciate and express our gratitude to the Regent of Mimika, Eltinus Omaleng who has donated his private land for the construction of the Kingmi Papuan Gospel Tabernacle Church at Mile 32 Mimika. We are concerned that certain parties are playing for the sake of power, trying to bring down the good name, reputation and dignity of Mr. Eltinus Omaleng in the eyes of the public through law enforcement, especially the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Reason a). the results of the 2015 2016 2017, 2018 BPK (Financial Audit Board) audit found no findings of state losses, b). The tender process was carried out in a transparent and open manner, not through appointments, c). Therefore, we are concerned and reject the circulation of the Corruption Eradication Commission Leadership Letter regarding the status of Regent Eltinus Omaleng as a suspect which was later published in a number of mass media as part of the game of certain parties for political interests in Mimika Regency.

 

D. OUR CALL
Responding to the very concerning dynamics in Papua as a result of the systemic politics of racism and the criminalization of Papuan leaders, we state our call:

 

1. We request the UN Human Rights Council (Human Rights of the United Nations) to come to visit the Land of Papua to see firsthand the situation of the long suffering of the Papuan people over the last 58 years.
2. It is time for the Indonesian government to stop the policy of systemic racism against Papuans which continues to increase.
3. President Joko Widodo should remain consistent in following through on his statement that he made on September 30, 2019, that he was willing to dialogue with pro-referendum group, the United Liberations Movement for West Papua, mediated by a third party, as took place between the Government of Indonesia and GAM (Free Aceh Movement) on August 15, 2005.
4. The implementation of Law Number 21 of 2001 concerning Special Autonomy for Papua has failed to be implemented in Papua for 20 years. Therefore, we firmly reject the ratification of Law No. 02 concerning Special Autonomy Volume II, because this Law is a one-sided policy of the Government without seeing the Papuan people as the address of Papua's Special Autonomy.
5. We have witnessed the government's systematic, massive and collective efforts to promote Islamization projects in Papua, a land where 99% of Papuans are followers of Christ. The Government, TNI/Police, and the Political Elites must stop all ambitions towards Papuans and the identification of Christians as Kafirs.
6. Stop the development of civil infrastructure with the expansion of provinces in Papua. Also, stop also the development of military infrastructure that is massively increasing, the addition of troops that continues to increase in the face of demands and struggles for the basic rights and political rights of the Papuan people.
7. We express our concern over the appointment of the TNI Commander who in the past was involved in special operations in Tanah Papua. We believe that President Joko Widodo has not shown good faith in promoting human rights and democracy in Papua.
8. We ask that Mr. Luhut Binsar Panjaitan stop the criminalization of Mr. Haris Azhar and the Director of Kontras, Fatia Maulidyanti. We also ask that for the sake of humanity that our brother Victor Yeimo and the Free Papuan Political Fighters who are being detained should be released and all charges dropped and we urge the president to fulfill his promise (see point 3 above).
9. We firmly reject the investment and mining exploitation of the Wabu block and other companies in Tanah Papua.
10. We firmly reject the construction of the PT. Freeport smelter in Gresik, East Java Province.
11. Law enforcement officers should stop all efforts to criminalize government civilian leaders in Papua who are fighting for development.
12. Stop the criminalization of the Regent of Timika Regency, Eltinus Omaleng, in connection with the construction of the Kingmi Church at Mile 32 Timika. We as church leaders appreciate Pak Omaleng's hard struggle and he has donated land and initial funds for the construction of the Papua Kingmi Church.
13. We request prayer support from the solidarity of Christians in Indonesia, Melanesia, Pacific, Africa, Caribbean, European Union, Asia and the United States in resolving this protracted conflict in Papua.

 

May this call remind us to cement the declaration of Papua Land of Peace in order to defend and fight for justice, peace and the dignity of God's people in the Land of Papua.

 

Jayapura, 21 November 2021

 

WEST PAPUA COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

 

Rev. Benny Giay
(Moderator)
Rev. Andrikus MofU

 

Rev. Dorman Wandikbo

 

Rev. Socrates S. Yoman