Church leaders: State violence intensifying in the Land of Papua

6 Mar 2013
Benny Giay
Rev. Benny Giay and Socratez Sofyan Yoman

Press release, Leadership Working Forum of Papuan Churches

“Speak out for those who are voiceless, for the rights of all those who are suffering" (Amsal 31:8-9).

As leaders of churches in the Land of Papua, we are deeply concerned about the state violence which is occurring in our sacred motherland. This is clear proof of the fact that the government and the security forces have failed to provide protection for the indigenous Papua people. These concerns of ours have already been conveyed by our communities in the following statements:

  1. The eleven recommendations made by the Consultation of the Papuan People’s Council (MRP) and the Indigenous Papuan Communities on 9-10 June 2010;
  2. The Joint Communique of Church Leaders on 10 January 2011;
  3. The Theological Declaration of Church Leaders  on 26 January 2011, and
  4. The Prophetic Message by Papuan Church Leaders to the President of Indonesia on 16 December 2011, in Cikeas, Jakarta.

Similar concerns have been expressed by member countries of the United Nations (the USA, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Japan, France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia Spain and Italy) on the occasion of the 23 May 2012 session of the Human Rights Council (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Based on the above facts, we believe that the Indonesian Government and the security forces are part of the problem of violence which has been created by the State, preserved by the state and allowed to continue in order to legitimise yet more acts of violence in the Land of Papua and to take advantage thereof in order to strengthen the security forces.

We regard these developments as a reflection of [Generative Politics] which was described in an article by Nugroho published by The Jakarta Post on 10 July, 2012. According to Nugroho, generative politics are political views and considerations which have paralysed and worsened the situation of Papuan communities and which have been pursued in accordance with the policies of the Indonesian Government for the past fifty years.

Herewith is a list of several incidents of violence that have systematically and structurally been perpetrated as a reflection of the generative politics mentioned above:

  1. On 2 March 2013, a priest named Yunus Gobay (male, 55 years old) was tortured and mal-treated and after being released, he paid ransom money to the police forces in the Police Command Post in the town of Enarotali, Paniai.
  2. The shooting incident in Sinak, District of Paniai, Tinginambut, Puncak Jaya on 21 February 2013 and the shooting incident in Udaugi on the border of the District  of Delyai on 31 January 2013 when a number of civilians and members of the security forces were killed, which in our opinion happened  because of the neglect of the unlawful sale of weapons.
  3. On 15 February 2013, Dago Ronald Gobay (male, 30 years old) was arrested  in Depepre, district of Jayapura by the police and while being interrogated was tortured in the office of police intelligence in Jayapura.
  4. The attempt by the government and the security forces to forcibly disband a religious ceremony which was being held on the 4th anniversary of National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) on 19 November, 2012 in the STAKIN ASSEMBLY HALL, Sentani, on which occasion the security forces were under the command of the Police Chief of Jayapura, AKBP Roycke Harry Langgie and the deputy of the District Head (Bupati) of the District of Jayapura, Robert Djoenso D, SH.
  5. The unlawful murder of Mako Musa Tabuni, first chairman of the NKPB on 14 July 2012 in Perumnas, Jayapura.
  6. The murder of TPN/OPM General  Kelly Kwalik by police from Densus 88 and a member of the Indonesian army (TNI) on 16 December 2009 in the town of Timika, and on the same day and month in 2012  another Papuan Hubertus Mabel was murdered  by police of Densus 88 in Kuruku, the town of Wamena.
  7. Ferdinand Pakage was tortured in Abepura Prison by Herbert Toam, a warder at Abepura Prison, on 22 September 2008, as a result of which he was permanently blinded in the right eye.
  8. The torture and murder of Yawan Wayeni on 13 August 2009 by the police chief in Serui, AKBP Imam Setiawan.
  9. Two incidents of gross violations of human rights in Wasior in 2001 and in Wamena on 4 April 2003, the latter of which is related to the assault on an ammunitions store; this incident has been investigated by Komnas HAM (National Commission of Human Rights), but the results of which have not been forwarded by the Attorney General to the Human Rights Court for a verdict.

These are just a few of the cases which are evidence of crimes which have been perpetrated by the Indonesian state and the security forces in a systematic, well-structured, widely-based  and prolonged way and which are reflective of the generative politics (paralysis, destructive, eliminating) which, according to Nugroho in his Jakarta Post article of  10 July 2012, have been perpetrated by the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia in the Land of Papua for the past fifty years, since 1961.

Bearing in mind all the very disturbing facts given above and the living experiences of the indigenous Papuan people, we church leaders in the Land of Papua, make the following recommendations:

Firstly, the Indonesian Government and the security forces should return to the original aspirations of this country by investigating and putting an end to the unlawful sale of weapons and ammunition which is happening in the Land of Papua.

Secondly, the Indonesian Government should speedily take cognisance of the prophetic messages from the Church, the eleven recommendations of the MRP on 9-10 June 2010 and the Appeal by members of the UN Human Rights Commission at its session 23 May 2012.

Thirdly, we believe that the Indonesian Government is responding in a very discriminatory way to the aspirations of the Papuan people for peaceful dialogue.  We therefore press the Indonesian Government to enter unconditionally into a dialogue based on the principle of equality between Indonesia and West Papua, with mediation by a neutral party, which is what happened in the dialogue between GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka – the Aceh Liberation Movement) in Aceh.

Fourthly, the Indonesian Government should unconditionally release all political prisoners in Papua and should allow a visit to Papua by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, as well as by foreign journalists and human rights defenders. And it should forthwith end all its efforts to criminalise the political struggle of the Papuan people for self-determination.

Fifthly, the shooting to death of members of the TNI as well as civilians which occurred in the district of Sinak, Puncak Jaya and in the district of Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya on 21 February 2013 should be regarded as a separate incident. It was in no way connected to the election of the bupati (district chief) of the district of Puncak. This violent incident is part and parcel of state policy to build the necessary infrastructure for the TNI and Polri (the police) in the mountainous interior in order to establish the Puncak Jaya 1714 military command, to increase the budget for the security forces and to criminalise the peaceful struggle of the Papuan people at the international level.

Sixthly, the Chief of Police in Papua, Inspector-General (pol) Drs M  Tito Karnavian, MA, has failed to investigate who it was who perpetrated acts of violence in the Land of Papua and has created the impression that he is allowing the illegal sale of weapons to go ahead. We urge the chief of police in Papua to implement the statement made by the chief of police, Inspector-General Bekto Suprapto in December 2010 that those who are responsible for the entry into West Papua of illegal weapons will be investigated.

Seventhly, we call on all Papuan communities and all components in society to study the laws in force regarding the TNI and Polri, in order to be able to control criminal actions as well as the policy of the Indonesian government and security forces in the Land of Papua.

Port Numbay (Jayapura), 6 March 2013

Chairman of the Synod of KINGMI Church, Papua:

The Rev. Dr Benny Giay.


Chairman of the Executive Board of the Alliances of Baptist Churches in Papua:

Socratez Sofyan Yoman


Translated by TAPOL