Summary of events in West Papua for February 2013

Attacks on the security forces

An attack on the security forces on the 21 February resulted in 8 soldiers and 4 civilians killed in two separate incidents in Sinak and Tingginambut in the Puncak Jaya region. A helicopter trying to evacuate the bodies of the victims was also shot at the following day, injuring the pilots which halted the evacuation. Media coverage of the incidents and of West Papua itself has been ongoing (and causing outrage in the Indonesian press) with editorials and opinion pieces offering solutions. If President Yudhoyono opts for what he calls the welfare approach other government officials do not. Antara News reported that Indonesia`s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said that the TNI will take a firm stand by conducting tactical action against the armed groups that killed the soldiers and civilians in Papua last week. “The tactical action includes to chase, apprehend and destroy”. Statements such as this create fear in the West Papuan people who are well aware of what sweeping operations against so call separatists mean.

At first media reports referred to the attackers as unknown gunmen and Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian’s linked the shootings to the recent regional elections although Goliath Tabun of the TPN denied this saying they TPN had “no interest in money or power and that it was purely fighting to achieve an independent Papua”. Anton Lego Obet Tabuni, secretary general of the TPN-OPM, told Suara Pembaruan in a phone call “We want to be fully independent,” and “We know that [we’re being chased],” Anton said. “We will not surrender and we will not back down even slightly in maintaining our ideology.

The security forces have also been building military posts in the region and encroaching close to OPM areas. Although the OPM are committed to peaceful ways forward they reserve the right to self defence and the protection of their people. AWPA is concerned that local people in the areas where the attacks against the Indonesian military occurred will suffer as security operations are conducted in the hunt for the perpetrators of the attacks. The attacks occurred in Sinak and Tingginambut in the Puncak Jaya District.

AWPA media release re the incidents at

AWPA letter to Senator Carr

Al Jazeera video report “Papua on alert after deadly attack on troops”


West Papua media has reported that a large security operation has begun to hunt for those responsible for the attacks on the military.
Urgent Actions

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a number of urgent actions concerning prisoners been tortured and which people can respond to.

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-025-2013

“Guards torture 20 prisoners at the Abepura Correctional Facility, Papua”.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the torture of twenty prisoners at the Abepura Correctional Facility, Papua, on 21 January 2013. Information gathered by local activists reveals that the torture was conducted by three prison guards with the acquiescence of the head of the prison. The victims were beaten with bare hands as well as whipped with thick wire until some parts of their bodies were bleeding. Despite the injuries suffered the prison guards did not give any medical treatment to the tortured prisoners.

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-024-2013

Seven Papuans are arrested and tortured on false allegations of having a relationship with pro-independence activists

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the arbitrary arrest and torture of seven Papuans which took place on 15 February 2013. The victims were driving home in two cars when the police stopped them as they were looking for two pro-independence activists. The victims were later brought to the police station where they were further questioned on the whereabouts of the activists. They were severely beaten, kicked and electrocuted before being five of them were released without charge the next day. However, as at the time of writing two of the victims remain in police custody.

Amnesty International also released an urgent action in relation to this incident at

Benny Wenda’s Freedom Tour

West Papuan leader Benny Wenda has been travelling on a freedom tour to raise awareness and concerns about the situation in West Papua. Benny has received great media coverage on his trip and in particular in New Zealand where thanks to the NZ speaker of parliament blocking his appearance at Parliament House. AWPA release at

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee also wrote to NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully to condemn his failure to meet with West Papuan leader Benny Wenda. Letter and media reports at On his trip around the world Benny met with representatives of human rights NGOs and politicians including at Parliament House in Canberra.

Tension on PNG border

There have been a number of incidents between the Indonesian military and PNG citizens in the border area .A report by Johnny Blades of RNZI at

In brief

Papua killings seen as serious escalation, says academic

RNZI posted at 02:44 on 25 February, 2013 UTC

A leading researcher on West Papua says last week’s fatal shootings in Puncack Jaya represent a serious escalation in tensions in Indonesia’s Papua region. Eight Indonesian soldiers and four civilians were killed in two separate shooting incidents in the remote Highlands regency, for which military chiefs have blamed the separatist OPM Free West Papua Movement. Following the shootings, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government would use a welfare-based approach rather than a military one to keep the peace in Papua. But Jim Elmslie of Sydney University’s West Papua Project fears the violence will grow.“The whole province of West Papua is highly militarised now which might well have helped to lead to this escalation in the conflict. Obviously, there are a lot more weapons floating around and more dark forces that are not under the government control or are conducting black operations. I think the President’s words probably don’t carry much weight in the jungles of West Papua.” Jim Elmslie

Jakarta’s militaristic approach in Papua has to stop, say regional representatives.

RNZI Posted at 01:40 on 28 February, 2013 UTC

Regional representatives in Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces have strongly urged the government to cease military operations and withdraw special forces from the region. The Jakarta Post reports that the Regional Representatives Council, or DPD, says cessation of military operations is necessary to end the prolonged violence in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces.

Last week, eight Indonesian soldiers and four civilians were killed in two separate shooting incidents in Puncak Jaya regency. The DPD says the presence of elite forces within the Indonesian military has caused animosity among local groups who have launched attacks against them.

The DPD deputy chairman Laode Ida says if Jakarta wants to end violence, the militaristic approach has to stop. He says the presence of special forces and their irregular operations have triggered attacks on garrison troops and innocent civilians.

Former Vanuatu PM opposes Indonesian assistance to police force.

RNZI Posted at 09:03 on 26 February, 2013 UTC

The former Vanuatu prime minister Barak Sope says that the government should not accept security forces assistance from Indonesia.

The comment from one of Vanuatu’s outspoken leaders on the West Papuan self-determination issue follows a donation by Jakarta of a thousand police uniforms to Vanuatu’s Police Force. The donation was announced by the newly appointed Indonesian ambassador to Vanuatu, Nadjib Riphat Kesoem, who today presented his credentials to Vanuatu’s President, Iolu Johnson Abil. The ambassador presented a model of the Vanuatu Police Force uniform to the acting Prime Minister, Ham Lini.

Mr Sope says the assistance is unacceptable. “How can Indonesia help Melanesians in Vanuatu and other places when they’re also killing them, especially the military, killing Melanesians in West Papua? We cannot accept that.” Barak Sope says that Vanuatu should maintain its traditional support for the self-determination cause of West Papuan people.
Chinese military aid to PNG for troop carriers, armoured cars and uniforms.

RNZI Posted at 02:44 on 25 February, 2013 UTC

Papua New Guinea’s Defence Minister, Fabian Pok, says a two-million US dollar military aid grant from China will be spent on armoured cars, troop carriers and uniforms.

The grant follows Dr Pok’s talks with his Chinese counterpart General Liang Guanglie in Beijing last month and meetings there with exporters of military ware.

The visit comes as PNG plans a five fold increase in troops over the next decade.

Dr Pok says PNG will also ask China to help maintain swimming pools and gymnasiums at PNG’s military barracks.

“They want to be seen as not being too involved in our military issues here. China is also trying to export things like uniforms and armoured cars and all these things. So it’s also in the business interests of not the Chinese military but people who are building these things to market their products to countries like Papua New Guinea.”PNG’s Defence Minister Fabian Pok

Fears civilians may suffer in West Papua reprisal attacks

Submitted by stevenr on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 – 2:10pm


Supporters of the West Papuan independence movement in Australia are concerned civilians may be targeted in reprisal attacks after eight soldiers were shot dead in the Indonesian-occupied territory on February 21.

A report on the tragedy of HIV/AIDS in West Papua

by Michael Bachelard , Indonesia correspondent for Fairfax Media at

Papuans Behind Bars Update: January 2013

Papuans Behind Bars is a new project about political prisoners in West Papua. Our aim is to provide accurate and transparent data, published in English and Indonesian, to facilitate direct support for prisoners and promote wider debate and campaigning in support of free expression in West Papua. AWPA has posted details at

Two members of the OPM to face charges: Others are being hunted by police

Bintang Papua (27 February 2013) reported that two members of the OPM were arrested in Kampung Ayaigo, sub-district of Kebo, District of Paniai and will face charges in court. The police stated that the men were in possession of explosive materials and ammunition in violation of Emergency Law 12/1951 which allows a sentence, if convicted, of twenty years or life imprisonment. A policespokesperson, I Gede Sumerta Jaya, head of public relations of the Paniai chief of police, also said that the police were engaged in operations to find other persons on the ‘wanted list’ (DPO) for a series of actions such as shootings and other acts of violence that have been occurring in the area. These other persons were identified by the initials JY, SY and DY.

Featured image:

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.


Latest news

Related news