Wednesday, December 1, 2004


Date: Wednesday 1 December 2004
Subj: Papua: Blind to Genocide?
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.

December 1 is the day Papuans remember as their "Independence Day". Papua's Dutch colonial masters expressed their commitment to Papuan independence and recognised the Papuan anthem and Morning Star flag, which was then raised for the first time on 1 December 1961. Indonesia, which had ambitions to annex Papua, immediately fought an undeclared war with the Netherlands in Papua, over the issue of Papuan independence. The USA intervened and, with the assistance of the UN, Papua was placed under Indonesian control on 1 May 1963. The Australia government supported the move.

Then in 1969, under the farcical ‘Act of Free Choice’, Indonesia hand-picked 1,025 Papuans to vote unanimously against Papuan independence. This sham referendum, which the Papuans refer to as the "Act of No Choice", was then passed off as a legitimate, democratic act of self-determination. The UN accepted the result without debate.

It is widely accepted that at least 100,000 Papuans have died at the hands of Indonesian security forces since 1963, although Papuans say the real figure is probably much higher. According to Operation World, 90% of all indigenous Papuans are officially reckoned as Christian, predominantly Protestant.


There are two ways to achieve genocide. One is to wage war, massacring a people in cold blood. The other way is to enact policies that are strategically designed to culminate in the eradication or decimation of a people: in the words of the Genocide Convention, "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

With this second method, the genocidal policies need to be gradual to avoid arousing suspicion and able to be attributed to natural causes. (The Government of Sudan has on numerous occasions engineered famine for such a purpose.) In December 2003, Yale Law School's Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic released a report in which they argued that Indonesia is indeed enacting policies in Papua that will, if not checked, lead to the genocide of the indigenous Papuan people. (Link 1)

One insidious method of "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part" is the Indonesian security forces' introduction of AIDS to Papua through the provision of Javanese AIDS-infected prostitutes to indigenous Papuans at sites where Indonesian authorities trade with Papuans. Add to this, trans-migration policies to change the demographic make up of Papua from predominantly protestant Christian Papuan, to a majority Javanese Muslim. Add to this, a continual stream of human rights abuses that leave the population weak and traumatised. Add to this, the theft of all Papua's resources. Add to this, the division of Papua into three provinces, two being majority Muslim, leaving the Papuans politically marginalised in their own land. Time and blindness is now all that is needed for the Papuans to become a decimated, subjugated Christian minority in a Muslim majority state.

This slow method of physically destroying a people does, however, require great patience. And when a slow genocide is under way there is always hope that voices for justice will wake up and intervene. Evidence suggests however that many in the Indonesian military (TNI) and the Indonesian elite security forces (Kopassus) are running out of patience and are looking for an opportunity to commence slaughtering the Papuans with the aid of the Islamic Laskar Jihad and the pro-Indonesian militias of Eurico Guterres.

If a war against the vulnerable Papuans erupts, it will be catastrophic. NOW is the time for the voices in support of rights and justice to speak out for the preservation of Papua and its indigenous people. One day soon it may be too late.


All through 2004 Papua has been on a knife edge with the Indonesian military attempting to provoke conflict and the Papuan leaders, especially church leaders, trying to maintain calm. This tension cannot be maintained indefinitely. The Indonesian military wants to justify its claim that, due to the "separatist threat", Papua must not be granted autonomy and must remain under military control, because the military profits, through corruption, from the exploitation of Papua's resources.

One provocation the Indonesian military uses is sniper killings.

On 22 November, Nethy Dharma Somba reported from Jayapura (Papua) for The Jakarta Post, "Local non-governmental organizations, churches and student organizations urged the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to set up a fact-finding team to investigate the recent series of shootings in the province.

"Eight people, including a church minister and a police officer, were killed in a series of attacks by unidentified gunmen between Aug. 17 and Nov. 12, 2004 in Puncak Jaya regency. Some 15 others, mostly children, died when more than 5,000 residents of 27 villages in the regency had to flee and take refuge in remote areas after they felt their lives were in danger due to the continued presence of the gunmen.

"The police and military are blaming the Free Papua Movement (OPM) separatist rebels for the incidents, while tribal leaders, religious leaders and human rights activists in the province are alleging that the Indonesian Military (TNI) is behind the shootings."

A more detailed account of the shooting of the church minister is available in the Radio Australia transcript of an interview with Pastor Socrates Sofyan Yoman, President of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Papua. (Link 2)

Pastor Socrates Sofyan Yoman says that Reverend Eleesa Tabuni was shot by members of Indonesia's Kopassus Special Forces in the the town of Mulia on 14 September. Pastor Yoman also reports that after the killing, troops arrived in a helicopter and shot at the villagers from the air as they were gathering food from their gardens. He says two were killed and multitudes fled into the jungle in fear of their lives.

It is estimated that some 5,000 villagers are now displaced in the jungle, without food as their crops have been destroyed. The Papuan human rights group Elsham reports that church members have been pressured to hand over a witness to the killing of Pastor Tabuni. The church members are refusing to comply, which is extremely courageous as Papuan have been executed and tortured to death by Indonesian troops. Pastor Yoman says that 22 churches in the central highlands district are now empty because the people have fled to the jungle. He fears they will starve there.


In early November, Papuan human rights activist John Rumbiak told Australian media that Papua is "a time bomb waiting to go off". According to Rumbiak, an extra 25,000 troops have entered mineral and timber-rich Papua since 2000, and more than a million migrants from Muslim Western Indonesia have moved into Papua, rapidly closing the gap on the 1.5 million indigenous Papuans.

Rumbiak, who is the international advocacy co-ordinator for the human rights group Elsham, called on the Australian government to "support and encourage" Mr Yudhoyono to establish the "necessary pre-conditions" for peaceful dialogue. He said those conditions should include a withdrawal of the massive troop presence in Papua, the dismantling of the militias and the dropping of the decree that has divided Papua into three new provinces.

If this does not happen soon, Papua will become fully Islamised and the vulnerable, predominantly Protestant Christian Papuans will be totally decimated and brutally subjugated.


The fact is, governments of influence are not blind to this genocide - only disinterested. It is inconsequential.

That gold, copper, timber, and relations with Indonesia should be worth more than the lives of precious human beings is morally repugnant.

- Elizabeth Kendal


1) Yale Law School – Dec 2003
Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic
Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control

2)INDONESIA: Thousands displaced after Papua raids
Radio Australia. 8 November 2004