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