Friday, March 23, 2007

Uzbekistan: why Andijan changed everything

Date: Friday 23 March 2007
Subj: Uzbekistan: a new wave of serious persecution may be just beginning
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


The religious liberty situation for Protestant Christians in Uzbekistan has deteriorated markedly since May 2005. There are two reasons for this and while one is well understood, the other is not.


As is well understood, the era of the Soviet-era dictators running post-Soviet states is coming to an end. Uzbekistan's President Karimov has been watching as post-Soviet states have turned West-ward and embraced democracy and liberty; and as corrupt, repressive pro-Russian, Soviet-era Communist dictators have been driven from power in "colour revolutions": Georgia (Rose, 2003), Ukraine (Orange, 2004) and Kyrzygstan (Tulip, 2005). Then in December 2006 the Soviet-era strongman Saparmurat Niyazov, President of Turkmenistan, died aged 66yrs.

Karimov is keen to hold on to power and so he is quick to repress anything that could threaten the status quo, including threatening non-traditional religions. Radical Islam (largely foreign influenced) is clearly a serious threat to Central Asia. However, because Protestant Christianity is perceived as being essentially Western, anti-corruption and pro-democracy, Karimov regards it as equally threatening.

While Karimov's repression and violence have hurt the Church, they have enabled the Islamist revolutionary and militant groups that feed off social anger to grow. Karimov has been perpetuating a vicious reactionary cycle and Christians are caught up in the slipstream.


The other reason why the religious liberty situation for Protestants has deteriorated over recent years is actually more important but less understood.

In 1998 when the US State Department passed its Freedom from Religious Persecution Act (HR 2431), Uzbekistan had several Protestant pastors serving long prison sentences with hard labour on bogus drugs charges. To avoid incurring US sanctions as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), Uzbek leaders negotiated with the US and then released their religious prisoners. In November 2006, after two years of escalating religious repression, the US State Department added Uzbekistan to its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC). On 9 March 2007 Uzbekistan sentenced one of its leading registered Protestant pastors to four years in a penal colony after a sham trial. Clearly Uzbekistan doesn't care about the US or CPC status any more. (Link 1)

There is no doubt that the critical turning point was the May 2005 uprising in Andjian.

After the May 2005 Andjian incident WEA RLC News & Analysis wrote (19 July 2005) that Karimov was fighting a war for the status quo against radical Islam, and it was anticipated that "non-traditional" Protestant Christians would doubtless be caught up in the ensuing crackdown. (Link 2)

However, immediately after the May 2005 Andijan uprising, another factor entered the equation and it is this factor that has caused the most serious damage to the religious liberty and human rights situation in Uzbekistan.

In May 2005, the West was in the midst of a "War on Terror" and Uzbekistan, a key ally in the War on Terror, was struggling with serious issues regarding Islamic revolutionary and al-Qaeda linked terrorist organisations. (Forty-seven people were killed in March and July 2004 in a series of well planned and well facilitated terrorist attacks that targeted Uzbek police, private and commercial facilities, and the US and Israeli Embassies.)

Despite this, after the May 2005 incident in Andijan, Western media, human rights monitors and governments were exceedingly quick to reject the Uzbek government's assertion that Islamic radicals and militants had attempted a coup d'etat. Western groups preferred rather to accept (even passionately embrace) narrative coming from Andijan that alleged that a repressive and violent government had, for no reason at all, massacred hundreds of innocent peaceful protesters as they gathered to decry their poverty and the lack of justice, liberty and democracy under the Karimov regime.

The US, too quick to pass judgment, enacted reactionary policies including sanctions. From this point onwards, President Karimov no longer viewed the US as a partner and ally in the "War on Terror". Two months later, in July 2005, President Karimov officially evicted the US military base from Uzbekistan. The Karshi-Kanabad (K2) Airbase had been established in the wake of 9/11 to serve as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions into Afghanistan.

Along with this, Karimov turned increasingly towards Russia, China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO, which Uzbekistan joined in 2001) which is committed security and "non-interference" and to reducing US influence in Central Asia.

US influence in Uzbekistan has been dealt a serious blow. Not only has the US lost its ability to exert positive influence over Uzbekistan in terms of religious liberty, but due to the souring of relations the West has lost its ability to influence Uzbekistan's secular government towards reform and openness.


A most comprehensive and useful piece on the May 2005 Andijan incident comes from the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center based in Johns Hopkins University-SAIS, Washington, DC, and Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Their paper (herein referred to as the Silk Road paper) entitled: "Islamic Radicalism in Central Asia and the Caucasus: implications for the EU" by Zeyno Baran, S. Frederick Starr, Svante E. Cornell, published in July 2006, is extremely helpful in many ways. (Link 3)

This paper examines the nature, in terms of history and evolution, of both Islam and secularism in Central Asia and the Caucasus. It looks at how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have affected the region, and how a proliferation of foreign Islamic missionaries (mostly of the "Wahhabi" brand), who have arrived during and since perestroika, has radicalised elements over recent decades. It also examines the ideology and methodology of the main radical Islamic groups of the region.

One particularly interesting thing in this paper is that it shows how Islamist groups use, adopt or exploit other causes (ie poverty, or nationalism), and how they have become extremely sophisticated in manipulating (and sacrificing) people and employing propaganda and Western slogans, all for their own political ends. The same patterns of exploitation, manipulation (of people and media), lies and propaganda are seen in all conflicts where militant and revolutionary Islamists are present and seeking to co-opt Western support for their agenda (for example, in the Middle East and the Balkans).

The Silk Road paper devotes pages 33-40 to the re-emergence of terrorism in Uzbekistan. Pages 35-50 deal with the May 2005 Andijan incident.

According to the authors, Baran, Starr and Cornell, radical Islamist and terrorist activity in Central Asia increased markedly from early 2004. After the March and July 2004 terror attacks in Uzbekistan the US criticised Uzbekistan's human rights while doing little to assist it in its investigations or response to the terror attacks. According to the authors, "Overall, the terrorists were greatly emboldened, concluding that Western opinion would allow them literally to get away with murder." (p 34)

The Silk Road paper claims that the Islamist organisations had also been watching the "colour revolutions". They too knew the days of corrupt Soviet-era (secular) dictators were coming to an end, and they were determined to be the ones to take power in the event of any regime change. The event that most impacted them was the November 2004 "Tulip Revolution" in Kyrgyzstan. This was different to the previous "colour revolutions" as it was violent - yet the West accepted it anyway. The Tulip Revolution (see link 4) gave the Uzbek Islamists their precedent.

One of the most difficult things for human rights groups has been the fact that the overwhelming majority of protestors in Babur Square in Andijan on 13 May 2005 were not armed militant Islamist ideologues. Rather they were family people, women and children, humble citizens just wanting a better life. As Human Rights Watch reported: "The Uzbek government has stated that
the Andijan protests were organized by 'religious fundamentalists.' 'Protesters grievances, however, appeared to focus on a wide range of issues, including poverty and corruption."

The fact is both are true. The rally that brought several thousand citizens into Babur Square in Andijan was organised by Islamist groups. They promoted the event as Uzbekistan's chance for a "colour revolution". The repressed, poor and fearful of Andijan came out in their thousands to protest repression and stage their people's revolution. They were unarmed and unaware that their peaceful people's revolution was going to be used as a cover for a violent Islamic coup d'etat. The citizens of Andijan were also unaware that those who organised the rally would eventually exploit them as human shields.

As a little bit of background: in the section entitled, "Radical Groups: A Survey" (commences on page 19) the Silk Road paper reports (p24-25) that "Akramiya" (the group that organised the uprising - an Andijan based off-shoot of Hizb ut-Tahrir) has been committed to establishing "Islamic socialism" in Andijan. One strategy has been for wealthier followers to set up small business and employ young men who then must attend ideological study-groups after work. Around one-fifth of the profits of those businesses go into a fund for Akramiya, which is committed (like Hizb ut-Tahrir) to the overthrow of the secular government and the enactment of Sharia law and Islamic rule through the re-establishment of the Caliphate. Their work has won hearts as it has helped alleviate poverty in the region.

This is how the Silk Road paper describes what happened in Andijan in May 2005 (page 36).

"In June, 2004, 23 businessmen, followers of Akramiya, were arrested and in February 2005 they were put on trial. Peaceful demonstrations in support of the defendants went on for several weeks. According to reports from the region, Akramiya organized the uprising in a carefully planned way: the accused businessmen promised to pay their staff a full day's salary if they attended the protests. Moreover, their relatives organized transport for others to come from more distant regions. The protesters were orderly and asking merely for 'justice' for their relatives and friends. By May 12th, the presumed final week of the trial, there were already several thousand peaceful demonstrators.

"That night, the Uzbek government arrested some demonstrators. This arrest marked the start of the uprising. On the morning of May 13, armed militants first seized a police station, then a military post, and then a high-security prison, collecting weaponry in each place and killing officials and others along the way. Negotiations between the government and the militants broke down, in part because the release of Akram Yuldashev [founder of Akramiya, in prison for involvement in terrorist bombings in 1999] was the main demand of the insurgents. Expecting a harsh reaction from the government, the insurgents then formed human shields with women and children." [This point is backed up by footnotes that include a Forum 18 release that reports that the insurgents took hostages and abused them: ". . several hostages received severe beatings. The hostages had wire tied round their necks and were placed at the perimeter of the square as human shields. Therefore the first to die from the shots fired by Uzbek government forces were the hostages." Link 5]

The Silk Road paper continues: "While it is yet to be determined who shot first, by the end of the day, some two hundred persons were dead, most killed by government troops but a large number killed by the armed insurgents."

This picture is confirmed by other investigating groups, such as the Council on Foreign Relations (see report: "Documenting Andijan", link 5), and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (see report: "The Andijan Uprising, Akramiya and Akram Yuldashev", link 6, which includes a 69 minute video of the 13 May 2005 Andijan incident filmed by two locals who believed they were filming a historic event - a people's revolution in Uzbekistan). This film, which is also referred to in the CFR report "Documenting Andijan", shows buildings in flames and thousands of peaceful protesters listening to speeches, encircled by armed Islamic militants, some of whom are making Molotov cocktails. The militants are clearly preparing for armed conflict - for a violent Islamic coup d'etat.

The Silk Road paper comments: "Radical Islamist groups have won the information war. While the insurgency was an attempted coup d'etat, international media framed the story as the massacre of innocent civilians comparable to the Tiananmen Square incident". (page 38)

"The end result of Andijan is that the U.S. military lost its base in Uzbekistan, a major setback for essential intelligence and counterterrorism work. No less significant, the West lost whatever possibility it previously had to influence the Uzbek government to reform or open up the system. Its precipitous condemnation of the government's actions, without corresponding attention to the insurgents, effectively discredited whatever reformist currents had existed earlier within the Uzbek government. Instead, Uzbekistan now leans on Russian and Chinese guidance, which gives carte blanche to the most repressive forces within the Uzbek government. Indeed, the pro-Western liberal forces that had slowly strengthened their positions within the Uzbek elite over that past decade have now been almost completely purged and marginalized." (page 39)


There is no doubt that persecution against Uzbekistan's Protestant Church has escalated since the May 2005 Andijan incident. And it is clear that the US can no longer influence Uzbek policy concerning religious liberty, as the US, a former ally, is now an enemy.

Furthermore, the Islamists are emboldened by the fact that the West is more interested in the prison conditions and civil liberties of radical Islamists (HRW calls this "independent Islam") than in the terror they inflict and the repression and persecution they intend. And the Uzbek government is emboldened by SCO support to repress anything it wants to repress in any way it wants to repress it.

A new wave of serious persecution may be just beginning.


The Silk Road paper gives recommendations for a European response. These include gaining an improved understanding the ideological framework of radical and terrorist Islamic groups; engaging with reform-minded officials within governments (not just within opposition groups); support the counter-narcotics efforts that can cut the main source of funding to extremist and terrorist Islamic groups; engage in the region and shatter the isolation that only benefits extremists; foster educational and cultural exchanges - and more.

The future of Uzbekistan hangs in the balance.

Elizabeth Kendal WEA RLC


1) Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 421 | Wed 21 Mar 2007
Uzbekistan: Internal exile for Protestant Pastor.
By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service. 9 March 2007
See also
For the Russian version:
Leader of illegal religious organization convicted in Uzbekistan
5 March 2007

2) Uzbekistan: Karimov's war for the status quo.
WEA RLC News & Analysis. 19 July 2005
WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.

3) Silk Road Paper. July 2006
Islamic Radicalism in Central Asia and the Caucasus: implications for the EU
by Zeyno Baran, S. Frederick Starr, Svante E. Cornell.

4) The Tulip Revolution takes root
By Pepe Escobar. 26 March 2007

5) UZBEKISTAN: What is known about Akramia and the uprising?
By Igor Rotar, Forum 18 News Service 16 June 2005

6) Documenting Andijan
By Lionel Beehner, Staff Writer. 26 June 2006

7) The Andijan Uprising, Akramiya and Akram Yuldashev
By Martha brill Olcott, Marina Barnett Web Commentary, June 22, 2006
"69 minutes of video were taken by two cameramen in the Babur Square in Andijan on May 13, 2005. We are providing the complete version of the film."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Vietnam's crackdown creates watershed

Date: Tuesday 20 March 2007
Subj: Vietnam's crackdown creates watershed
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


The Vietnam government's crackdown against human rights and democracy advocates (many of whom are Christians acting upon their religious beliefs) is not hidden nor is it subtle. It is bold, challenging and hugely significant. It creates a watershed, especially for the US. Through a wave of harassments, arrests and criminal charges against human rights and democracy advocates engaged in peaceful and perfectly legal activities, Vietnam is openly showing its hand and waiting to see if anyone will challenge, or if everyone will fold.


Several US Congressmen, including Chris Smith, Frank Wolf, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher, are speaking out against the crackdown. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) has introduced a resolution condemning the recent arrests and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of dissidents. According to Voice of America (VOA), "The measure warns that ongoing harassment, detentions and arrests will harm the broadening of ties with the U.S., and result in Vietnam being put back on a list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) for severe and ongoing violations of religious freedom." (Link 1)

Congressman Smith told a press conference, "'I have been to Vietnam and met with Father Ly, Nguyen Van Dai and over 60 other dissidents. These are smart, talented and kind people -- some of Vietnam's best and brightest. They harbor no malice toward the government. They only want a better future for their country. These individuals are the Vaclav Havels of Vietnam. Their
incarcerations -- under a bogus Soviet-era article -- are meant to harass, intimidate and keep them from bringing about peaceful change. Their arrests cannot and should not stand,' Smith said.

"Smith also noted that the State Department's removal of Vietnam's Country of Particular Concern (CPC) designation is not permanent. 'The U.S. should consider reinstating Vietnam's CPC designation in light of the regime's recent actions. Nothing precludes us from putting them back on that list. We can and should put them back on tomorrow if the regime does not take immediate action to improve human rights conditions in Vietnam,' said Smith." (Link 2)

If the US State Department does not respond to Vietnam's overt repression of faith-motivated human rights and democracy advocates, then the US State Department will be giving tacit endorsement to a false and unsustainable dichotomy whereby freedom to believe is separated from freedom to exercise/act upon that belief. This would seriously undermine much of what the US administration has been working towards over the past decade with regards to the promotion of religious liberty in the world.


Lawyer Dai, his female associate Le thi Cong Nhan, and Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly are charged with violating Article 88 of the Criminal Code by "propagandising against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam". According to sources, one of the accusations levelled against Nguyen van Dai is that he has "consorted with certain extremist elements to gather what is called 'evidence that Vietnam suppresses religion' to distribute to enemy forces and to reactionaries residing abroad".

Two days before his 6 March arrest Nguyen van Dai spoke to an FNA (Free News Agency) reporter in Hanoi. (Link 3)

FNA reports that not only was Lawyer Dai's law office and home raided by police but on 28 February, in response to police pressure, the Business Registration Office of Hanoi's Planning and Investment Bureau cancelled the permit of TNHH Translation and Legal Consultation Firm of which Mr Nguyen Van Dai is a co-founder and the executive director.

Lawyer Dai told FNA that his activities as a lawyer include providing legal assistance to the majority of the country's human rights and democracy activists. As such his work has angered the Communist authorities who have responded by placing him under close surveillance, summonsing him frequently for interrogation, monitoring and even cutting his phone lines.

When asked about the charge of violating Article 88 of the Criminal Code, Dai responded by saying that under Vietnam's Constitution citizens had the legal right to access, store and study information. Only documents that oppose the legislative, executive and judiciary branches of government by instigating violent and illegal armed action would be considered to be in violation of the law. Nguyen van Dai, who is a member of Advocates International and Advocates Asia, is convinced he has not stepped outside the bounds of the law.

Lawyer Dai told the FNA that as long as Vietnam did not have freedom or democracy then he would use his legal profession to defend religious and pro-democracy activists. "It seems that the Communist authorities are doing their best to train and turn me into a professional political activist," says Dai. "They do not want me to operate as a lawyer specialised in human rights and religious freedom.

"Should the Communist authorities illegally take away my right to do business and to practice my profession, I would still have a range of options to consider, but it would appear that everybody including the Communists is wishing to see me become a politician mobilising the masses and directly struggling for the democratisation of Vietnam. Deep down, I have always wanted to just be a human rights lawyer, but historical circumstances seem to be steering me in another direction. I still have time to pray to God for his guidance in my final decision. Whatever my action I always wish to be encouraged and supported by the people inside the country, compatriots living overseas and the international community. The Vietnamese people's struggle for freedom and democracy is far from over and will still encounter many difficulties. However, as the path of truth and righteousness, it will receive the undivided support of the people and the support from the international community and will undoubtedly meet with success."

On 13 March the state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported that Nguyen van Dai and Le thi Cong Nhan's names had been removed from the Ha Noi Bar Association and accordingly the Thien An Lawyers' Office was no longer eligible to operate. VNA claims that initial investigations have shown "that since 2004, Nguyen Van Dai took advantage of the State's permission to establish the Thien An Lawyers' Office and the Viet Luat [Translation and Legal Consultation] company to spread propaganda, lure forces and collude with political opportunists as well as hostile forces at home and abroad which oppose the State. Their acts run counter to the interests of the nation and people." (Link 4)

It has been confirmed that Nguyen van Dai is on a hunger strike.

Elizabeth Kendal WEA RLC


1) US Lawmakers Warn Vietnam on Crackdown on Dissidents
By Dan Robinson, Capitol Hill. 14 March 2007

2) Smith Calls on Vietnamese Government to Immediately Release Political
Prisoners. 15 March 2007

3) Vietnam's communist authorities' desperate repressive measures against
attorney Nguyen Van Dai. 5 March 2007. (in three languages)

4) Two lawyers' names erased from Bar Association. 13 March 2007

Vietnam uncovers democracy 'plot'. Hanoi (dpa)

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Date: Thursday 1 March 2007
Subj: Papua, Indonesia, the TNI and the USA
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

The Indonesian military (TNI) has once again unleashed terror in the highlands of Papua. Thousands of indigenous, predominantly Christian Papuans have been ethnically cleansed from their villages and driven into the inhospitable jungle where many will die.

During the 20th Century, the Papuans turned from the occult, headhunting, cannibalism, and internecine tribal war to Christ. They were evangelised predominantly by Australian and American pioneer missionaries courtesy Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) USA. The missionary story was popularised by missionary author Don Richardson, whose best-selling book "Peace Child" (now a feature film) tells how the Sawi tribal practice of making peace with an enemy through the gift of a child opened the door for even the most violent Sawi warriors to embrace the gospel.

Today the enemy of the Papuans is not their pagan tribal culture. Today nothing the Papuans do will bring peace. The TNI know they can kill Papuans with impunity. And what's more, the Papuans know it too. The contemporary still-unfolding story of Papua is a story of the genocide of a Christian people through betrayal and abandonment, aggression, complicity and impunity.


Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. first explored Dutch New Guinea (Irian Jaya, Papua), then a Dutch colony, in 1960. In 1961 Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, invaded the sparsely populated, resource-rich province and occupied it. In 1962 the US brokered a deal with the Dutch. Known as the New York Agreement it handed sovereignty of Papua to the UN until a referendum could be held on the status of the province. In 1967, regardless that the UN was supposed to be in control, Indonesia gave Freeport "'free rein' to take West Papuan land from the people, to resettle villagers and compensate them only for the buildings on the land". (Link 1)

In 1969 the UN, the US and other Western states with political and economic agendas facilitated Papua's annexation to Indonesia. Mining commenced in 1973, so did the protests, and so did the military reprisals.

The present day situation in Papua is complex and multilayered. It involves Indonesian and Islamic imperialism, racial and religious hatred, political expediency and complicity, greed, corruption and cover-up.

To 'Javanise' and Islamise Papua, Jakarta facilitates the mass migration of Javanese Muslims into Papua. It also strategically divided Papua into three provinces so that today Javanese Muslims are the majority in the majority of provinces.

There is little doubt that most Javanese Muslim immigrants view the indigenous Melanesian mostly Christian Papuans with contempt. Yet while the ethnic and religious hatred aspects intensify the hostility, they are not the root of the current crisis. The root of the current crisis is multi-layered:

* The Indonesian military (TNI), which has an appalling record when it comes to corruption and human rights abuses, is determined to stay engaged in domestic security so it can operate and be close to its various business interests. (The Indonesian military raises most of its costs from its
business interests, not the federal budget. The TNI's business interests range from legitimate investments and companies, to illegal logging, prostitution, drugs and extortion.) Accordingly the TNI needs conflict - it needs a real and present "separatist" and "terrorist" threat. Indonesia keeps an enormous military force deployed in Papua on account of this "separatist and terrorist threat".

* An American mining company is mining in Papua, which is a conflict zone. The insecurity cause by the protests of displaced, disgruntled locals, or by conflict between the TNI and the OPM (the primitive, not particularly threatening Papuan independence movement) means the mine requires protection. Those who work in protection (the TNI) therefore benefit from insecurity.

* The American government's relationship with Indonesia is valuable and strategic both in terms of economics and geo-politics. The US is Indonesia's primary weapons supplier. Furthermore, Indonesia is an ally in the War against Terror. Hence this is a relationship that both Indonesia and the US are keen to protect.

Together these factors create an environment where the TNI, which secures its interests through conflict, knows it can persecute and kill Papuans with impunity, because the Indonesian and US governments and the directors at Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. have political and economic reasons always to make sure the TNI's human rights abuses will be whitewashed.


A detailed report entitled "Paying for Protection. The Freeport mine and the Indonesian security forces" was published by Global Witness in July 2005. It is essential reading for anyone seeking to fully understand what is happening in Papua, and what is the relationship between the American Freeport mine, the TNI, and the gross human rights abuses perpetrated against the indigenous, mostly Christian Papuans.


For many years now it has been known that TNI soldiers manipulate often illiterate, uneducated Papuan village men to be proud 'OPM' warriors! They arm these fake OPM and send them off to commit crimes and provocations that give the military grounds for retaliation against "separatist and terrorist" forces.

There are several differences however between real and fake OPM. Real OPM are few in number, isolated in the jungle, primitive and armed primarily with spears and bows and arrows. Fake OPM are armed with M16s and supplied with Indonesian beer and whiskey. (Link 2).

TNI soldiers use these fake OMP for operations where they want deniability or for when they want to trigger a military crackdown.

PUNCAK JAYA, DEC 2006-2007

On 8 December 2006 two Indonesian soldiers were killed after a banned Papuan Morning Star flag was raised on Kumipaga Hill in Puncak Jaya. It is not clear exactly what transpired, but there are several signs to point to manipulation and the use of fake OPM to trigger an incident.

First, the flag raised on Kumipaga Hill was not a little hand-made flag but most unusually was a full-sized flag. Secondly, the soldiers who interrupted the event were not speared but shot with a TNI-issue M16 semi-automatic rifle (made in USA). On 24 December 2006, TNI, Brimbob (mobile brigade police), and intelligence agents were deployed to Pancuk Jaya for a military reprisal. The region is sealed off, closed to the outside world.

Since the military offensive commenced an estimated 5,000 Papuan villagers have been forced to flee their homes, gardens and livestock. It is the wet season and the displaced, terrorised Papuan families are walking north and east over mountainous terrain, through thick jungle, without food, shelter or medical care. There is great concern that another TNI-engineered humanitarian crisis is unfolding.

TNI, Brimbob, and intelligence agents have since occupied some twenty vacated villages.

The TNI have been implementing the above pattern for years.


On 31 August 2002 a group of unidentified gunmen ambushed a convoy of cars travelling between the Papuan regional centre of Timika and Tembagapura, near the Freeport copper and gold mine. Two Americans and an Indonesian were killed while nine foreign nationals, seven of them Americans, and three Indonesians, all teachers at the Tembaga Pura International School, were injured.

The attack took place close to a military checkpoint. The TNI, who were quickly on the scene claimed to have shot dead a Papuan OPM insurgent. After pointing out his body to the police, the TNI launched a military crackdown. However, evidence being gathered by Indonesian police indicated that the TNI was itself complicit in the attack. The evidence included the discovery that the Papuan body had actually been dead several days and planted at the scene. The Global Witness report gives an excellent description of what happened in the weeks around and subsequent to 31 August 2002. This includes the fact that the police chief leading the investigation, I. Made Pastika, and his deputy who publicly accused the TNI were subsequently transferred out of Papua.

It is doubtless not a coincidence that the attack occurred as Freeport was considering cutting its payments to the TNI on the grounds that investors were concerned that the payments, if deemed extortion, would be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

- a local pastor included with the "terrorists".

On 16 June 2004 a federal grand jury in Washington DC indicted a Papuan named Anthonius Wamang for the August 2002 murder of the two Americans killed in the August 2002 Freeport ambush and the attempted murders of another eight.

The US Department of Justice subsequently issued an exuberant press release: "'The U.S. government is committed to tracking down and prosecuting terrorists who prey on innocent Americans in Indonesia and around the world,' said Attorney General Ashcroft. 'Terrorists will find that they cannot hide from U.S. justice - whether in the world's largest cities or in the most remote jungles of Asia.'

"'The brutal terrorist attack charged in this indictment was an unprovoked ambush of an innocent group of Americans who were in Indonesia to teach school,' said Assistant Attorney General Wray. 'The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to see that those responsible for such terrorist acts are brought to justice.'

"'This case is an example of outstanding investigative work and the dogged determination of FBI Agents and prosecutors to ensure that those who attack Americans abroad are brought to justice. I look forward to working cooperatively with the authorities in Indonesia as we pursue our mutual interest in prosecuting this defendant,' said U.S. Attorney Wainstein.

"'This investigative effort illustrates the importance of international cooperation to combat terrorism and what can be accomplished when countries partner in this effort,' said FBI Director Mueller. 'The cooperation extended by the Indonesian government enabled the FBI to work in the remotest areas of Indonesia and identify the party responsible for this terrible crime.'"

The US Department of Justice concluded its press release with the reminder: "An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant violated a criminal law. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty." (Link 3)

Attorney Wainstein's assurance that Indonesia and America would pursue not justice but their "mutual interest" was probably what drove Wamang to flee immediately into hiding in fear of his life.

Wamang subsequently communicated to a journalist that he and fourteen others had been doing business with the TNI. He told reporters that they had been given ammunition and told that soldiers would be coming along the road. Wamang said he opened fire on the convoy believing that the vehicles contained Indonesian soldiers. (Link 4)

Wamang and eleven other Papuan "terrorists" were arrested in January 2006. They had handed themselves in to the FBI at the Timika hotel after being promised that they would receive a fair trial in the USA. Instead they were handed to Indonesian authorities.

Amongst those detained was the Reverend Isak Ondawame, a well-known local pastor and human rights advocate who had helped arrange the meeting at the Timika hotel. Ondawame, who has been critical of Jakarta's policies in Papua, had not previously been identified as a suspect in the teachers' murders. (Link 5)

In November 2006, the Central Jakarta District Court, sentenced Wamang (32) to life imprisonment. His "accomplices" received up to seven years each.

The trial was a sham, but it did enable US military aid to Indonesia to be restored.

While Wamang admits to shooting at the convoy, the other men profess to be innocent. While waiting to hear the verdict Reverend Isak Onawame (54) said: "We had nothing to do with these shootings. Our trial has been manipulated for the interests of two countries, Indonesia and the United States." (Link 6)


America's Foreign Relations Authorisation Act for the fiscal year 2006-2007 as passed by the US House of Representatives in July 2005 contained a detailed section on Papua (section 1115). The Bill required that further reporting be undertaken regarding the implementation of Papua's Special Autonomy Law; human rights, openness and liberties in Papua; and the 1969 Act of Free Choice.

Needless to say, the Indonesian government was displeased. So to make the Indonesians happy, the American government agreed to remove the references to Papua.

On 9 November 2005, the Jakarta Post reported: "Indonesia has greeted with a sigh of relief a decision by the United States Congress to omit references to Papua from the State Department Authorization Bill." President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated that Papua was "Indonesia's domestic affair", while international affairs expert Dewi Fortuna Anwar said the removal of the references to Papua was "a friendly gesture by the United States in respecting the integrity of Indonesia. We should welcome the efforts by all sides in favor of Indonesia both inside and outside Congress to scrap the references to Papua in the bill." (Link 7)

Copies of the Bill can be found at:
Section 1115, on Papua can be found on pages 326-332.
ALTERNATIVELY (section 1115)


Indonesia is important both economically and geo-politically. But policies being enacted by the Indonesian government and the TNI are effecting the genocide of the indigenous predominantly Christian Papuans.

There will always be in every country government officials and CEOs who are prepared to put political and economic interests ahead of human life. Because of this it is left to those voters and investors who are not prepared to be complicit in human rights abuses and genocide to exert their power to force change. The impunity must end somewhere.

Freeport should be made to cease operations in Papua and the US government should be made to cease military aid to Indonesia until the human rights situation in Papua is corrected and Papua's Special Autonomy Law is fully implemented to the indigenous Papuans' satisfaction.

Elizabeth Kendal


1) Freeport Mine 'Terrible' Sight From Space Auckland University of
Technology (AUT)
August 2006, Article by Te Waha Nui

2) Breaking Free From Betrayal New Internationalist.
issue 318 - November 1999

3) US Department of Justice. 24 June 2004

4) West Papua - Ambushed
Broadcast: 01 Sept 2004. Reporter: Antony Balmain

5) Arrest of Indonesian Over Killings Could Boost Relations With U.S.
By Raphael Pura and Murray Hiebert, 12 January 2006
See also: for articles from
Washington Post and Financial Times.

6) Indonesian who planned killings of 2 American teachers gets life in
prison. The Associated Press, 6 November 2006

7) "Papua's removal from U.S. bill 'welcome'"
Jakarta Post. 9 November 2005