Etan: Letter to Secretary of State Clinton on West Papua Concerns
Dear Secretary Clinton:
The West Papua Advocacy Team respectfully requests that you raise the following concerns in your upcoming meetings with Indonesian officials during your visit to Jakarta:
The Killing of Mako Tabuni
On June 14 in West Papua, Government of Indonesia security elements shot and killed Mako Tabuni
, a prominent Papuan human rights advocate. According to eyewitnesses, Mr. Tabuni was shot by plainclothes officers after he eluded their attempts to force him into an unmarked vehicle. Although he was badly wounded, the plainclothes officers failed to take him to a nearby hospital and instead brought him to a distant police facility where he died. The appearance and modus operandi of the security officials strongly suggest that they were members of the U.S.-funded “Detachment 88
.” This unit has been accused of human rights violations in West Papua and elsewhere by reputable human rights organizations.
The issue of impunity continues to prevail in Indonesia and Timor-Leste because the authorities of the two governments only want to improve diplomatic relationships and have neglected the human rights violations that occurred during the Indonesian occupation.
We strongly urge you to insist that the Government of Indonesia conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of the killing of Mako Tabuni.
Military Operations Impacting Civilians
For decades the Government of Indonesia has conducted military operations in remote areas of West Papua purportedly aimed at countering the activity of the small, lightly-armed Papua Freedom Movement (OPM). These operations have severely affected local civilians resulting in the destruction of homes, places of worship and public buildings, and causing the flight of civilians to nearby forests where they face life threatening conditions. Invariably, security forces impede efforts by humanitarian relief organizations to assist these displaced civilians. Many civilians have died as a result of these military operations. Currently such an operation is underway in the Paniai region.
We strongly urge you to call on the Government of Indonesia to cease resort to armed measures to address largely peaceful Papuan protests and to permit humanitarian relief organizations to respond to the urgent human need generated by these military operations.
Provision of Vital Human Services to Papuans
Since assuming control of West Papua through the widely discredited “Act of Free Choice” over 40 decades ago, the Government of Indonesia has consistently failed to provide minimally adequate health, education and other vital services to the Papuan people. That failure has resulted in health and education indices for the Papuan population that are consistently among the lowest in Indonesia and the region and have prompted charges that Jakarta’s malign neglect of the Papuan people’s basic human needs amounts to genocide.
We strongly urge that you press the Government of Indonesia to address the dearth of human services in West Papua and that the U.S. Government increase its own assistance, particularly in the areas of health, education and creation of employment opportunities for the systematically-marginalized Papuans.
Papuan Political Prisoners
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
have repeatedly accused the Government of Indonesia of incarcerating Papuans for peaceful activities protected under international covenants assuring the right to peaceful political activity and the right to assembly. Moreover, these organizations and a 2007 report by a UN Special Rapporteur
determined that conditions of incarceration for these (and other) prisoners and detainees do not meet minimal international standards. Recently, Papuan political prisoner (and Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience) Filep Karma
has suffered delays in the provision of crucial medical services guaranteed him under international covenants to which Indonesia is a signatory party.
We strongly urge you to raise with Indonesian officials concern over the continued persecution of peaceful dissent by Papuans and their mistreatment when in custody, including the Indonesian government’s failure to provide minimally adequate medical care as required under international law.
U.S. Sale of Attack Helicopters to Indonesia
In March of this year, 90 international NGO’s urged the U.S. not to sell AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
to Indonesia. These organizations argued that provision of these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have suffered deadly TNI (Indonesian military) assaults for many years. Specifically, the NGO’s noted that the heavily-armed AH-64 was a highly lethal weapon which could be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua as these aircraft would substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its “sweep operations” in West Papua. The consequence of this augmentation of the TNI arsenal would lead to increased suffering among the civilian populations long victimized by such operations.
We again urge that the U.S. government not approve the sale of this weapon system to the Indonesian military and that you use the occasion of your visit to inform the Indonesians that the sale will not go forward.
Calls for Government of Indonesia-Papuan Dialogue
Respected Papuan leaders have long called on the Government of Indonesia to engage in an internationally mediated dialogue with the Papuan people regarding the future of West Papua. At the July 2011 “Papua Peace Conference” which convened in Jayapura with more than 1,000 in attendance, Papuan representatives were selected for such a dialogue. The Indonesian Government observed this conference at the ministerial level.
Welcoming past U.S. Government support for a dialogue, we urge you to reiterate U.S. Government encouragement for such a dialogue.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.
The West Papua Advocacy Team is a U.S.-based NGO composed of academics, human rights defenders and a retired U.S. diplomat.