169-170, January 2003

Jan 2003

Bulletin no. 169


1. A step towards peace in Aceh

2. Foreign tourists sentenced [text unavailable]

3. The Bali blast and beyond

4. Anti-terrorism decree [text unavailable]

5. Tanjung Priok massacre: will justice be done? [text unavailable]

6. 1965-1966 massacre to be investigated

7. Kopassus and the Maluku crisis

8. No justice for East Timor [text unavailable]

9. More Kopassus crimes in West Papua

10. BP in West Papua: the Tangguh project [text unavailable]

11. Solidarity for West Papua is growing [text unavailable]

12. Creating a zone of peace in West Papua [text unavailable]

13. Unemployment threatens millions [text unavailable]

14. John Saltford: The UN and West Papua (Book Review) [text unavailable]

15. Sulami, a wonderful woman (Obituary) [text unavailable]

1. A step towards peace in Aceh

An agreement on the cessation of hostilities signed by the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement in December is a major step towards peace and a just political solution for the conflict in Aceh. The signing of the agreement has already helped to improve the situation in Aceh where armed clashes between the two forces have declined significantly in recent weeks. However, difficulties could emerge in the weeks and months ahead.

The agreement was signed on 9 December 2002. The two delegations had shown the necessary political will to reach an agreement. In addition, political forces around the world, including the US, the UK, France, the Scandinavian countries, Japan and Switzerland were actively involved in the process, as well as the European Union, the UN and the World Bank. The accord has certainly put the Aceh question onto the international agenda.

So far the peace accord has had a favourable impact on the situation in Aceh. In many parts of the region, armed clashes have declined and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) units have returned to their bases. In its first report issued a few weeks after the agreement, the Joint Security Council (JSC), the body charged with implementing the accord and monitoring the situation on the ground reported a significant decrease in the number of civilian fatalities. Whereas during the first eleven months of 2002, there were on average 87 deaths a month, in the weeks following the accord, the figure was down to eleven.

In some places GAM units even have invited their adversaries, the security troops, to join them in traditional festivities which would have been unthinkable a few months ago. However, for nearly three decades Aceh has been a war zone and it will take a lot of time and effort to restore a sense of peace and security for its people.

A week before the accord was signed in Geneva, a conference on Aceh was held in Tokyo. The Preparatory Conference on Peace and Reconstruction focussed attention on economic developments in Aceh. The objective of the meeting, which was also attended by the Indonesian government and GAM, was to make clear the determination of the international community to provide economic assistance to a secure and peaceful Aceh. The World Bank has recently sent four teams to Aceh to assess basic needs in order to tackle the economic, social and governmental needs of the region.

On 14 January, the ambassadors of the US, Japan and Italy (representing the EU) visited Banda Aceh in a further display of support for the peace agreement. US ambassador Ralph Boyce said: 'We are here to celebrate and honour the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement.....Our work and our support will be, of course, dependent on the security environment'. The Japanese ambassador Yutaka Limura said: 'Peace in Aceh is like a new born baby. All sides, including us, must look after this baby'. Two key ministers accompanied the ambassadors, the Co-ordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Minister of Trade and Industry Rini Suwandi. It was Yudhoyono, a retired general and the most senior minister in Megawati's government, who played a key role in the negotiations with GAM in Geneva.

The HDC's crucial role

The body which facilitated the accord was the HDC, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, more commonly known as the Henri Dunant Centre. Often criticised in the past for being unprofessional and slow to act, the HDC was confronted with what looked like an impossible task. It is indeed rare for negotiations of a conflict of this magnitude to be facilitated by an NGO but the HDC successfully achieved an important step on the road to peace in Aceh.

When negotiations first started two years ago, Acehnese people were very enthusiastic and expected quick results but when this failed to materialise, they became disheartened. But the new accord has been met with great enthusiasm and there is a sense of huge relief that for now at least, the atmosphere is more peaceful and people can go about their daily business without fear. Some of the structures provided for in earlier agreements to secure the involvement of Acehnese civil society barely functioned because of the negative attitude of TNI/POLRI, the Indonesian security forces and police. They have always seen the HDC as an interfering intruder and have obstructed their work as much as possible. Back in July 2001, for example, the police arrested four members of the GAM negotiating team, which was a very serious breach of faith and a deliberate attempt to sabotage the talks.

The first two years of negotiations were indeed difficult and it was only thanks to the patience and persistence of the HDC staff and the GAM negotiators who, for security reasons, stayed at the same hotel as the HDC personnel, that things began to pay off. In the meantime international support for the HDC continued to be strong with financial support coming from Norway and the US.

Gradually the HDC managed to give the negotiations a stronger international dimension by securing the involvement of four senior politicians from other countries. These four 'wise men' played a crucial role in the talks: Major-General Anthony Zinni of the US who was also the US envoy for the Middle East talks, former Thai foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan, Budimir Linchar, former foreign minister of Yugoslavia and Bengt Soderbergh, former deputy foreign minister of Sweden. These men helped to create new openings at a time when the talks seemed to be going nowhere.

There has been significant international pressure on Jakarta for the talks to succeed, while the governments involved have invariably reiterated support for Indonesia's territorial integrity, which cuts across GAM's ultimate aim of independence from Indonesia. International pressure on GAM also intensified, along with a demand that they accept NAD, the special autonomy status offered by Jakarta. This is something that GAM has certainly not done.

In late October 2002, the two sides prepared drafts which were far apart on many issues. The Indonesian draft made it clear that GAM would have to accept NAD, which meant virtual surrender. In early November, the talks seemed to be going nowhere and were on the brink of collapse. GAM demanded more time to confer with representatives of Acehnese civil society. The HDC complied with this request and two delegations representing different strands of civil society were invited to Geneva. A new round of talks was held and on this occasion, the two sides were able to reach agreement.

The first paragraph of the accord reads as follows:

On the basis of the NAD Law as a starting point, as discussed on 2-3 February 2002, (leading to) a democratic all-inclusive dialogue involving all elements of Acehnese society that will be facilitated by the HDC in Aceh. This process will seek to review elements of the NAD Law through the expression of the views of the Acehnese people in a free and safe manner. This will lead to the election of a democratic government in Aceh, Indonesia.

The wording is somewhat disjointed but includes essential elements for a solution, needing to be fleshed out.

Possible stumbling blocks

The accord is the result of compromise and is only the first step on the road towards the resolution of the conflict in Aceh. There is no denying that major problems could emerge. First and foremost is the fact that there is a huge discrepancy between the political will of the Jakarta government which negotiated the accord and the military and police who operate in Aceh.

One of the most contentious issues is the withdrawal of Indonesian troops and the storage (or de-commissioning) of GAM's weapons, arms and ordinance in designated places. The accord avoids using that term 'withdrawal' with regard to the security forces in Aceh and speaks instead of 'relocation'. The TNI is not likely to allow its troops to leave Aceh, if only on the basis that the army's territorial system requires their continued presence. 'Relocation' can be interpreted as meaning something quite different.

The accord states that within three months, TNI troops should be 'relocated'. There are estimated to be 28,000 TNI troops stationed in Aceh and as yet, there are no signs of any of them departing. The storage of weapons by GAM is required to happen simultaneously and GAM Foreign Minister Dr Zaini Abdullah has made it clear that this will be contingent on what happens regarding the 'relocation' of Indonesian troops.

Other contentious issues like the holding of democratic elections and the setting up of an All Inclusive Dialogue between the Acehnese are also far from settled. Jakarta interprets the elections as being the elections that are due to be held throughout the country in 2004, in which only nationally-based parties can take part. So, will GAM be allowed to take part? If the election is seen as an opportunity to test the support for independence from Indonesia, how will this be reflected? As for the All Inclusive Dialogue, nothing has yet been said about the procedure by which the voice of Acehnese civil society will be reflected in this process.

A reconstituted Joint Security Commission (JSC) has been appointed under the leadership of Major General Thanongsak Tuwinan, a senior Thai military officer. The JSC has the difficult task of monitoring the security situation and making sure that implementation of the agreement goes ahead as agreed. The JSC will consist of 150 persons, composed of three groups, fifty each from the HDC, Indonesia and GAM.

Under the terms of the accord, the maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the Indonesian police (POLRI). During the negotiations, GAM made a big issue of the role of Brimob, the crack police troops which have played a particularly brutal role in Aceh, and pressed for these troops to be withdrawn., but this was not agreed. Instead the accord says: '..In this context, the mandate and mission of Brimob will be reformulated to strictly conform to regular police activities and as such will no longer initiate offensive actions against members of GAM not in contravention of the Agreement'. It remains to be seen how this will be implemented in the weeks to come.

How the negotiations started

The negotiations facilitated by the HDC started in 2000 and resulted in a three-month peace accord called a Humanitarian Pause [see TAPOL Bulletin No. 158, June 2000]. This was during the presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid, who was eager to find a peaceful solution to the hostilities but was at loggerheads with the military throughout his rule. From the outset the humanitarian pause was sabotaged by the military. Acehnese human rights activists reported an escalation of violence by the military, an increase of road blocks and the emergence of 'unidentified persons' carrying out assaults, robberies, kidnappings and acts of arson against public facilities.

The initial enthusiasm of the Acehnese people quickly dissipated. It was a peace process did not bring peace; on the contrary, it only created more violence. While the negotiations continued at a snail's pace, they had little relevance to the realities on the ground in Aceh where violence continued unabated.

It was indeed a difficult process as the arrest of the GAM negotiators based in Banda Aceh, the capital, showed in July 2001. At the same time additional troops were sent to Aceh, a clear challenge from the TNI to President Wahid that the military would not accept any negotiations on Aceh that involved an international body like the HDC.

This attitude by the military has not changed much but there have been shifts at cabinet level in Jakarta. Senior cabinet ministers in the Megawati cabinet now realise that a military victory over GAM is impossible and negotiations are the only way ahead.

The issue of justice

Many important issues have not been dealt with in the peace accord, notably the issue of justice and the matter of IDPs (internally displaced persons). Recent figures published by the human rights organisation Kontras provide an alarming account of victims of human rights violations. From January till November 2002, almost five thousand cases were recorded, including killings, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention, perpetrated by the Indonesian security forces. From 1989 till 1998, more commonly known as the DOM period, when special military operations were underway in Aceh, tens of thousands of Acehnese were victims of military brutality. None of the perpetrators has been brought to justice.

Already, civil society organisations have criticised the accord for failing to deal with this issue and are clearly determined to keep the issue alive. This will be an important political struggle as the armed forces commander in chief, General Endriartono Sutarto insisted, within days of the accord being signed, that bringing perpetrators to justice 'would be damaging to peace'.

While the number of civilian fatalities has declined following the December accord, there is no indication that the number of IDPs has decreased. As reported by PCC (People's Crisis Centre) the number of IDP's in December 2002 was 33,158, more than 50 per cent higher than in December 2001 (21,578). On 14 January it was reported that 2,500 IDPs who fled eight villages in North Aceh in December fearing attack have returned home, escorted by nine JSC peace monitors.

Clashes still occur

While there have been positive reports in the press, armed incidents continue to occur. Since the signing of the deal at least 12 civilians, 3 GAM members and 4 members of the security forces have been killed, according to an HDC report. Other reports mention that around 600 villagers in East Aceh have refused to go back to their villages because they are still traumatised. However, initial reports from Aceh are overwhelmingly positive and it is up to the people of Aceh to do everything they can to create conducive conditions throughout the region and exert continuous pressure on those in charge of implementation of the accord to listen to the wishes of the people.

3. The Bali blast and beyond

On 12 October, three bombs exploded in Legian, a beach resort on the island of Bali, killing at least 180 people and wounding hundreds. The blast was unprecedented, the worst incident since the Twin Towers tragedy in New York. The three bombs exploded almost simultaneously at Renon (close to the US consulate), Paddy's Cafe and Sari Club at Kuta beach. Some analysts believe that local terrorist cells working in conjunction with the Al Qaeda international network were responsible but in Indonesia, the focus has been on home-grown groups.

In the last three years Indonesia has experienced more than a hundred terrorist bombings. In the wake of the Bali blast, three men, Amrozy, Imam Samudra and Muklas were arrested; while the arrests appear to be providing leads, they have left many questions unanswered.

No one had foreseen an attack on the tourist island of Bali but in hindsight it is clear that soft targets, hotels and night clubs like Paddy's Cafe and Sari Club in Kuta Beach, which are patronised mainly by white people, have been targets elsewhere. The attack on a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya and the killing of three American doctors in Yemen only strengthen this conclusion.

The relentless campaign against global terrorism by the Bush Administration has so far produced meagre results and none of the key suspects has been arrested. The 'war on terror' has made the world far less safe. These days, people everywhere can become targets for terrorist attacks.

Contrasting perceptions

The many bomb attacks in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto have led to public indifference in Indonesia. Most of the outrages have not been resolved. The terrorist acts are widely seen as an extension of state terrorism, carried out with the co-operation of sections of state intelligence units or special army units.

This is in stark contrast with how things are perceived in the rest of the world. The US administration is convinced of the presence of an Al Qaeda network in Indonesia. In Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, the authorities have been busy mopping up alleged terrorist networks. While they focus attention on Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI), it is hardly seen as a threat in Indonesia. According to Singapore and Malaysian intelligence reports, JI is Al Qaeda's arm in the region and its ringleaders are mainly Indonesian though no one seems to know whether JI is a highly structured organisation of terror or simply a loose network of cells of like-minded people. While many Indonesians are not convinced about this 'terrorist threat', the US and the UN have placed it on their lists of terrorist organisations. Gradually an international consensus has emerged, portraying JI in the same light as Al Qaeda and it now seems to be taken for granted that the perpetrators of the Bali blast were Al-Qaeda connected.

But in Indonesia, commentators believe that the suspects are home-grown criminals and are far more cautious about linking these acts with global terrorism.

In Indonesia, Jema'ah Islamiyah has a more generic meaning, being the Arabic term for 'Muslim community'. In the eighties, there was a loose network of Muslim communities in Central Java called usroh (family) with common ideas about moral self-improvement, guidance and self-help leading to a pure Muslim society. Many of their ideas were borrowed from the Egyptian movement Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun. Another common feature was their defiance of Suharto, who was imposing Pancasila as the state ideology, much to the dismay of many Muslim groups.(1)

At the time, Jema'ah Islamiyah simply meant an umbrella for Muslim groups which were victims of state repression. Many usroh members were tried and given heavy sentences for attending small, home-based religious gatherings, but they did not face charges of terrorism.

However, these days in Southeast Asia, Jema'ah Islamiyah as used by police and intelligence authorities has become synonymous with terrorism. The Singapore government has even issued a white paper on the connections between Al-Qaeda and Jema'ah Islamiyah and several anti-terrorism experts have branded JI as a terrorist organisation.

Greater caution in Jakarta

The Megawati government's handling of global terrorism has been more cautious. While it has focused on surveillance and monitoring alleged suspects, the governments in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have been engaged in pro-active policies like Washington, smashing up suspected cells and arresting scores of people. Long before the top suspect Abubakar Ba'asyir was arrested in Indonesia, the authorities in Singapore and Malaysia were baying for his arrest and depicting him as the ringleader.

This gap in perception also explains the difference in reporting. The world media tends to link the Bali blast with international terrorist networks, linking JI with Al-Qaeda, while the Indonesian press is more focused on the domestic nature of the plot. The differing approaches has led to conflicts within the armed forces and intelligence bodies. Since 11 September, US intelligence organisations have been seeking allies around the world against Osama bin Laden. Indonesia's National Intelligence Body, BIN, fell for this line and actively helped Washington. In at least two instances, terrorist suspects were seized from their homes and flown illegally to Egypt and Afghanistan for interrogation. This collaboration between BIN and the CIA angered senior police and military officers.

In the post-Suharto era, administrations have been far more circumspect about rounding up alleged political suspects, leading to complaints in Washington about Jakarta's lack of action. While governments in Malaysia and Singapore have arrested people under their draconian ISA laws, post-Suharto Indonesia has until now shown greater respect for civil rights. Some 70 people have been detained in Malaysia while Singapore is holding 31 persons under terrorist suspicions. The Singapore has issued a white paper on the connections between Jema'ah Islamiyah and Al-Qaeda based on the testimonies of the 31 detained. The conclusions of the paper are quite grim and basically state that the global jihad threat over Southeast Asia is still imminent. The Indonesian National Police Chief General Da'i Bachtiar takes a different position and stated in a seminar held in Singapore that so far the multinational police investigations in the Bali blast events has not unearthed any evidence linking JI and Al-Qaeda.

A presidential decree on terrorism has now been introduced (see separate article) by the Jakarta government and the anti-terrorism law which will replace it, now being rushed through the parliament, may reverse this.

Growing anti-US sentiments

Another feature is growing anti-US sentiment around the world. Washington's pro-Israel policy and its plans for war against Iraq have provoked a new wave of anti-Americanism, even surpassing anti-US sentiments during the Vietnam war. According to an opinion poll in Indonesia soon after the Bali blast, some 80 per cent of Indonesians believed the CIA was behind the Bali outrage.

During the war on Afghanistan, the US embassy in Jakarta was the scene of daily protests. One has to go back to the sixties to see such vehement denunciations of US policies but the protesters were all Muslim groups, a new breed of organisations with a specific political agenda.

There are many reasons why pious Muslims have turned against Washington. In the eighties, the first generation of Indonesian Muslim radicals campaigned against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and saw the Americans as friends but friends have now become enemies.

On a global scale the role of Osama bin Laden has become peripheral, if indeed he is still alive. But the movement of Muslim activists in the present unhealthy global atmosphere is a breeding ground for 'freelance operators' who are not necessarily aligned to Al-Qaeda.

Anti-Islam policies in Indonesia

Since the birth of the Indonesian republic, the attitude of Indonesian governments towards radical Muslim groups has lurched from one extreme to the other, from accommodation to repression. The Muslim groups now in the limelight, in particular in the context of the Bali blast and the present anti-US wave, are all relatively new. Some are part of an international network. The liberal Muslim scholar Ulil Absar-Abdalla calls it a 'Gerakan Islam baru' (new Muslim movement) as distinct from the 'old' mainstream Muslim organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) or Muhammadiyah which represent at least 80 per cent of Indonesian Muslims. (2)

The radicalisation of Islam has been fuelled by the Soviet and US wars in Afghanistan and the availability of training facilities in Sudan, Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. Members of the new groups do not generally come from the mainstream organisations. Their social background is from the ranks of syncretic Muslims, from abangan communities as distinct from the pious Muslim communities across many parts of Central and East Java. Some of the key suspects of the Bali blast can be described as 'reborn' Muslims. (3)

MMI (Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia), the Council of Jihad Fighters, is one such organisation, a loose umbrella set up in 2000 by Muslim clerics with strong anti-Suharto credentials. MMI's paramilitary wing, Laskar Mujahidin, is active in Maluku. Its most prominent preacher is Abubakar Ba'asyir who runs a small school in Ngruki, in Solo, Central Java called Pesantren al Mukmin. He is also seen at home and abroad as the spiritual leader of Jema'ah Islamiyah. He openly supports the views of Osama bin Laden which makes him an obvious target of the world's press. Ba'asyir was hounded during the anti-Muslim witch-hunt in the eighties and fled to Malaysia for 14 years until the fall of Suharto. MMI campaigns for the introduction of Syariah law not just in Indonesia but throughout the region. It has no clear organisational structure and no registered membership but is supported by the pupils who attend its religious schools.

Another group with an international dimension is Hizbut Tahrir, a spin-off from Ichwanul Muslimin, the Muslim Brotherhood movement, known for its radicalism in Egypt and Sudan. Like MMI, HT promotes pan-Islamism, and advocates a purity of Islam. HT spokesperson Mohammad Ismail Yusanto is virulently anti-US and frequently quotes from Noam Chomsky on anti-US policies. It promotes the introduction of Syariah law and promotes a kind of Pan-Islamism, denouncing national borders. (4)

Several leaders of these new groups were prominent Muslim leaders in the late seventies and eighties, when the Suharto regime persecuted radical Muslim groups. (5)

MMI in particular harbours many ex political prisoners of the eighties while HT only emerged into the open in the post-Suharto era. It is difficult to assess the support for these groups. In the 1999 general election, the Muslim vote went mostly to mainstream Muslim parties and to Golkar, the ruling party under Suharto. Some voters supported new Muslim parties, in particular Partai Keadilan (PK), a party with a clear structure and programme. But it should not be lumped together with the Muslim groups mentioned above which function outside the national democratic framework. PK enjoys solid support in many campuses and is likely to gain votes in 2004 while remaining relatively small.

Campaigning for Syariah law by the new Muslim groups is not likely to affect the results of the elections, though it is gaining in popularity in West Java, Madura and South Sulawesi.

Infiltration by the army

As in some other Muslim countries, Indonesia has developed the tradition of a secular administration. Somewhat like Turkey, the Indonesian armed forces developed a secular, anti-Muslim tradition. In the early years of the republic, the Indonesian army frequently fought against rebel groups wanting to establish a Muslim state. Already in those days, military intelligence developed a habit of infiltrating Muslim groups and inciting them to get involved in dangerous activities, which were then crushed. Top army intelligence officers like Ali Murtopo and Benny Murdani became notorious for such intelligence operations, resulting in brutality towards Muslim radicals.

This tradition of financing, fostering and infiltration continues to this day, especially in the two best known militia groups, Laskar Jihad and Front Pembela Islam (FPI). Against this background, it is not difficult to conclude that there are connections between the Bali blast perpetrators and hardline military and/or intelligence officers.

Indonesianist Ben Anderson, retired professor from Cornell University, believes that the masterminds of the Bali outrage may be from a military faction that used to control East Timor. They would also be the ones to benefit from restoring the army's central role in Indonesian politics. 'It (Bali bombing) is not an international conspiracy by al-Qaeda but is to do with domestic politics, especially this military group which has a long experience in black operations', he said. 'Terrorists in the case of Indonesia can be found within the state apparatus'. (6) Many political analysts in Indonesia also think along these lines.

The Bali blast on 12 October accelerated measures by the authorities. Abu Bakar Ba'asyir who has been taken ill, was removed from hospital the day after the blast and taken into custody. Within a week the Megawati cabinet approved a new anti-terrorist decree giving greater leeway to arrest suspects and an enhanced role for military intelligence .

The authorities had already started clamping down on radical Muslim groups prior to the Bali blast, targeting in particular Laskar Jihad and FPI. Although the leaders of these organisations had strong ties with some highly-placed army and police officers, their military backers suddenly decided to pull the plug. Jafar Umar Thalib (Laskar Jihad) and Habib Rizieq (FPI) were both arrested just prior to the Bali blast.

This is believed to have been prompted by a decision of the TNI Commander-in-Chief General Endriartono Sutarto to summon 'rogue' elements in the army, threatening to take harsh action if they continued to support these organisations. As a result Laskar Jihad announced its dissolution a few days before the Bali blast and the FPI froze its activities shortly after the blast. The two organisations crumbled within days.

The recent bombings

Most recent blasts have been politically motivated. The blasts during the short presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), who was trying to curb the political muscle of the army, were widely regarded as being aimed at undermining his presidency.

An analysis by Kontras, a leading human rights organisation, concluded that none of the investigations or trials have been satisfactory as none looked at the motivation and none of the masterminds have been caught.

From 1976 till 1997, with Suharto in power, there were hardly any terrorist attacks but from 1998, when he was forced to step down, the attacks increased dramatically. In 1998 and 1999 13 attacks occurred, in 2000 there were 32, and from January till July 2001, there were 81, not including bombing incidents in conflict areas like Aceh, West Papua, Maluku and Poso. Some of the perpetrators have been identified, arrested and tried but the evidence has been far from convincing. There was plenty of evidence about the use of military equipment but military involvement has not been investigated. Many recent incidents prior to the Bali blast showed signs of greater professionalism as well as indications that the perpetrators were linked to the Bali tragedy.

On 1 August 2000, a huge blast shook the residence of the Philippines ambassador in Jakarta. The 20kg TNT bomb had been planted in a red Suzuki van parked close to the residence and caused huge material damage. Buildings and homes and more than two dozen cars within a radius of 300 metres were badly destroyed. Three bystanders were killed and 22 seriously wounded, including the ambassador who has been crippled for life. A group called Mujahidin Khandag claimed responsibility but nothing is known about it. During the interrogation of Bali suspects, connections were made between the two incidents.

On 13 September 2000 the high-rise building where the Jakarta Stock Exchange is located was badly damaged by a huge bomb which exploded in the car park; Fifteen people were killed and 34 seriously wounded. The attack was very professional; the choice of target ensured maximum publicity and it was timed to hit when transactions at the stock exchange were at their busiest. The RDX explosive used is known to be used by the military. A number of men have been convicted,. including three NCOs from the army's elite corps: Corporal Ibrahim Hasan from Kostrad and Sergeant Irwan Ibrahim from Kopassus were given life sentences, but Sergeant Ibrahim Abdul Manaf Wahab escaped from prison in February 2001and is still at large. Two civilians were given 20-year sentences. The trials failed to reveal anything about the masterminds.

On Christmas Eve 2000 a series of explosions occurred almost simultaneously in 38 places; mostly churches in Jakarta, Bandung, Mojokerto, Medan, Batam, Pakanbaru, Sukabumi, Mataram and Pematang Siantar. Nineteen people were killed and 120 were seriously wounded. The Christmas attacks were clearly the work of a professional group. Most of the bombs contained TNT though some were home-made bombs using a mixture of chemicals. Military involvement is widely suspected because of the meticulous planning of an operation in many parts of the country. In Medan and Bandung connections were traced back to senior military officers but the investigation was shelved.

There have been few arrests and convictions. But links are being made following the Bali arrests. One suspect who has been eager to talk is Faiz bin Abu Bakar Bafana, who is being held in Singapore. He made many allegations about the involvement of Jema'ah Islamiyah in the church bombings giving names of people being held in Indonesia. Bafana also mentioned Imam Samudra as being connected with the blast at the Atrium shopping centre in Jakarta on 1 August 2001. His confessions may not carry much weight however as he is detained under ISA, had no access to a lawyer and probably made his confessions under duress. ISA detainees can be held indefinitely without trial. He incriminated Abubakar Ba'asyir, alleging that he took part in meetings in Solo at which forthcoming terrorist actions were discussed.

One name frequently mentioned is Hambali who is now Indonesia's most wanted man in connection with the Bali blast. Intelligence circles suspect that he has left the country and is hiding in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

International or homegrown?

Since the arrest of Amrozi, Imam Samudra aka Abdul Aziz and Muchlas aka Ali Gufron, journalists have tried to piece together information from police reports. They suggest that a complex network of persons and cells was involved in preparing and carrying out the Legian bomb attack.

At least nine groups have been mentioned as being involved: the Serang Group (13 people), the Abdul Rauf group (4 people) and the Sukoharjo group (2 people) involved in the preparations: lodging, finances and survey. The Lamongan group (11 people) and the Bali group (4 people) were directly involved in the blast. The Solo group (9 persons) handled the aftermath, finding hiding places and so on. Groups in Riau and Menado were indirectly involved in the preparations.

But the 'big fish' are said to be Imam Samudra and Muchlas. According to claims in the international press quoting from intelligence circles, Muchlas is alleged to be operational chief for the regional Jema'ah Islamiyah, replacing Hambali aka Riduan Isamuddin. Muchlas is also wanted in Singapore for his alleged role in a plot to blow up the US embassy in Singapore.

The 'war against terrorism' has prompted the authorities to trample upon civil rights. The radical preacher Abubakar Ba'asyir is widely spoken of as the spiritual leader of Jema'ah Islamiyah and his contacts and pupils are alleged to be involved in the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Testimony by 'key witnesses' said to provide irrefutable proof of terrorist connections has turned out to be very contentious. Confessions by Omar al-Faruq, an alleged Al-Qaeda, operative were reported in Time magazine. This man was kidnapped by the Indonesian intelligence agency BIN in June 2002 and handed over to the CIA in violation of correct procedures. According to his so-called confession under interrogation in Afghanistan, he admitted to being involved in several bombing incidents in Indonesia in 1999 and 2000 and in a plot to assassinate President Megawati. He mentioned many names, including Abubakar Ba'asyir, whom he described as being part of a terrorist ring.

In January 2002, Fathur Rahman al-Ghozi, was arrested in the Philippines, caught red handed with a huge quantity of chemicals. As a former pupil of Abubakar Ba'asyir, he spoke about his involvement in several bombing acts, mostly in the Philippines.

Two papers published by the Jakarta chapter of the International Crisis Group, headed by Sidney Jones focus on the domestic and international connections of Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia and Jema'ah Islamiyah. Although the papers appear to be well researched and go into great detail about the organisational and personal connections between radical figures and groups in the Indonesian Muslim world, they fail to draw a distinction between radical right-wing exponents and organised terrorists groups. Some of the information, presented in the studies as facts, is less than convincing and would not stand scrutiny in a court of law. (7)

Confusion about confessions

Less than three weeks after the blast, the Indonesians already appeared with their first suspect. It did not take long before the three key suspects, Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Muchlas admitted their role in the Bali bombing. In a sensational public appearance, Police Chief General Da'i Bachtiar appeared with Amrozi in front of TV cameras and radio reporters. The aim of the exercise was clear, to convince a sceptical world that police investigations have produced swift results. In January two other key suspects were arrested in Kalimantan: Ali Imron and Mubarak, bringing up to 17 the people who have been arrested in connection with the Bali blast.

Amrozi will be the first one to appear in court. The police forwarded 1600-page dossier to the prosecutors in mid January and it is expected that his trial will start in February, provided that the prosecutors do not find fault with the police dossier.

Initially, people were impressed by the swift results and the seeming professionalism of the police officers, assisted by colleagues from Australia, the US, the UK and Japan. But gradually, fundamental flaws have begun to emerge.

The first relates to the material used for the bombs and the remnants of the Mitsubishi van, containing the bomb which was allegedly driven to the site by Amrozi. The huge crater, five-foot deep and twenty-foot wide indicates that the van would have been completely vaporised. In turns out the engine block was still intact and the police investigators were able to trace the owner of the van from reading van chassis number. This is what led to Amrozi's arrest. In his testimony Amrozi admitted carrying a huge amount of chemicals in his van to the site. In a later finding, the police traced 1 ton of explosives, owned by Amrozi, in Lamongan, creating confusion over whether the bomb had indeed been inside the van.

Robert Finnegan, an investigative journalist and editor of Jakarta Post raises a key question:

'Day after day investigators trotted out a different explosives and combinations of explosives purportedly responsible for the blasts. In addition to C-4 and RDX there was now TNT, Ammonium Nitrate, HMX, Semtex, PETN, Chlorate and Napalm. Everything but the kitchen sink. Was this gross ineptitude? Or another ploy to throw independent investigators off the trail?' (8)

Things became even more confused when the key suspect, Imam Samudra, who claimed that he was behind the idea of the Bali blast, is now giving a very different version. According to this version, Iqbal, who supposedly died in the event, was a suicide bomber who carried one kg of TNT and exploded the bomb inside the café. Imam Samudra claims that he drove Iqbal to the site by motorbike. He says he shocked by the scale of the blast. (9)

Well he might be, for such an amount of explosives could not have caused such a blast.

The testimonies regarding the preparation of the Bali blast also don't add up. According to the police the different groups met twice in Solo in different locations. In one of the locations the police found interesting documents about the organisational structure and strategy of Jema'ah Islamiyah, which is said to the first hard evidence about the existence of JI.

As the story unravels, the evidence becomes ever more curious, but what is missing is any evidence of the military's role. As long as a tight veil of secrecy hides this part of the story, the real truth about the Bali outrage will remain hidden.


(1) See Martin van Bruinessen, The Violent Fringes of Indonesia's Islam, ISIM Newsletter 11/02, December 2002
(2) Ulil Abshar-Abdalla, 'Fatwa itu Lemah, tapi Mengkhawatirkan', Tempo, 22 December 2002
(3) United States-Indonesia Society, Impact of the Bali Bombings, Conference Report November 26, 2002
(4) Mohammad Ismail Yusanto, Terror Islam, Terror Global, Makalah di HI, 14 November 2002
(5) See also Indonesia: Muslims on Trail, TAPOL, 1987, and Islam Diadili: Mengungkap Tragedi Tanjung Priok, Teplok Press 2002
(6) Supalak Ganjanakhunkee, Bali Attack Result of Internal Politics, The Nation, Asia News Network in Jakarta Post 27 December 2002
(7) ICG, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia: The Case of the 'Ngruki Network' in Indonesia, Jakarta, August 2002 and ICG, Indonesia Backgrounder: How the Jema'ah Islamiyah Terrorist Network Operates, Jakarta, December 2002
(8) See also Robert S. Finnegan, Bali bombing: An Investigator's analysis, The Jakarta Post, 3 January 2003
(9) Tempo, 22 December 2002

6. 1965-1966 massacre to be investigated

Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commission has decided to initiate an investigation into the massacres that swept Indonesia in 1965 and 1966, when at least one million people were slaughtered. The newly constituted Komnas HAM has managed to overcome a long period of deadlock where pro and anti military factions were fighting each other. Some new initiatives have been launched and issues that were swept under the carpet are being raised.

Although in the past few years, the National Human Rights Commission - Komnas HAM - has initiated many investigations into grave human rights abuses that were perpetrated during the regime of General Suharto, the most serious case of all has not until now been mentioned as warranting the attention of the country's official human rights body.

The Commission has now set up an Ad Hoc Team to Investigate Grave Human Rights Abuses by Suharto. Chairing the team is M.M. Billah who said at a press conference on 3 January that of all incidents during the Suharto regime, the bloody happenings in 1965 are thought to be the worst case of human rights abuse.

The killings began in the third week of October, 1965, in Central Java and spread like wildfire from province to province. The army, under the command of General Suharto, who had taken over the helm earlier that month following the assassination of six generals, including armed forces commander General Yani, spearheaded the killings, inciting others to take part. Estimates of the numbers killed vary from half a million to three million. An investigation undertaken in late 1965 at the request of President Sukarno, who was still formally the country's president, arrived at a figure of 78,000 dead, but members of the team later said that the figure was certainly far higher.

Billah said that the composition of the team is still under consideration. It will have fifteen members, he explained, adding: 'They must be people who were never in any way involved in the Suharto government, had never been his underlings and were not close to Suharto.'

He said the team would also investigate a number of other human rights crimes for which Suharto can be held responsible, including the so-called 'mysterious killings' during the mid-1980s, the Tanjung Priok atrocity in September 1984, killings in Aceh during the 'military operational zone’ period from 1989 till 1998 in Aceh and the kidnapping of activists in the closing months of 1997.

May 1998 riots to be investigated

Komnas HAM also announced that it had set up a team to investigate the riots that occurred from 13-15 May 1998, during which many hundreds of mainly ethnic Chinese Indonesians were killed and scores of ethnic Chinese women were raped. These riots, which followed huge student demonstrations calling on the dictator to stand down, precipitated his fall from power later that month. This team will be headed by Komnas HAM member, Solahuddin Wahid.

In July 1998, the riots were the subject of an investigation by a Joint Fact-Finding Team, known by its Indonesian initials as TGPF. The findings and recommendations of the team were never acted on. The head of the TGPF, Marzuki Darusman, announcing the results, said that members of the military and the political elite were directly involved in the riots and had instigated the atrocities in the hope that by provoking chaos, they could justify the imposition of martial law. One of the names he mentioned as being responsible for the riots was then Major-General Syafrie Syamsuddin who was military commander of Jakarta at the time. Syafrie is now the official spokesman of the armed forces, the TNI. [See TAPOL Bulletin Nos 148, September 1998 and 149/150, December 1998.]

While a team of humanitarian activists, the Tim Relawan, concluded earlier that 168 women had been raped or gang-raped during the riots, the TGPF reached a lower figure but it was recognised at the time that this team had not been able to complete its investigations because of outside pressure hampering its work.

7. Kopassus and the Maluku crisis

The involvement of security troops in fostering, training and financing the conflict in Maluku is a well known fact. But with the surrender to the Indonesian police of Berty Loupatty, the notorious leader of a Christian militia group, 'Gang Coker', more facts have come to light about the sinister role of Kopassus, the elite corps of the army.

In late 2002, Idul Fitri, the festivities at the end of the Muslim fasting month, as well as the Christmas and New Year celebrations passed without any serious incidents in Maluku. In previous years, important religious celebrations were always the occasion for vicious attacks on churches or mosques. The hardliners on both sides deliberately chose holy days to create disturbances as a way of highlighting the animosity between the two communities. Things have changed for the better and proof that the religious conflict was largely stage-managed by sections of the military and their proxy militia groups is becoming clearer that ever.

In January 2003 positive signs have emerged. When Indonesian cities were deluged by demonstrations protesting against price hikes by the government, a new front, the unified student front, emerged in Ambon, consisting of Christian and Muslim students to demonstrate against hikes in the price of fuel and phones. As the feeling of war-weariness has spread among the population, street markets have started to function again with Muslim and Christian traders setting up stalls side by side. But while this was happening in Ambon City, the capital, conditions in Central Maluku have not improved: the region is still segregated into Muslim and Christian quarters.

In October the police issued an arrest warrant for members of a militia group, Gang Coker (Cowok Keren, the Handsome Dudes), a vicious gang that has enjoyed the protection of Kopassus, the notorious red beret special corps of the army.

A brief history

The conflict in Maluku started in January 1999 following a trivial incident between two pedestrians, a Christian and a Muslim. Such a thing can happen anywhere but this incident triggered a prolonged, bloody conflict, now in its fourth year, which has developed all the features of a religious feud. At least 9,000 people have been killed and 400,000 have become internally displaced as a result of this war.[see TAPOL Bulletin No. 168, September 2002, 'Maluku is now a closed territory'.]

From the outset the role of the military was the determining factor in escalating the conflict. As in East Timor, the military have utilised militia groups in a very effective way. These preman groups, as they are called in Indonesia, played a key role of escalating the conflict into a full blown religious feud. Several of the key Malukan preman gangs were originally based in Jakarta. The Muslim preman gangs were recruited as political thugs by General Wiranto, the most senior military officer in the second half of the nineties. The Christian preman gangs had a long tradition of being part of the Jakarta mafia, operating as security guards for illegal gambling dens, night clubs and brothels. From the start, the godfathers of the preman gangs were military officers. The gangs re-located to Maluku and helped to fuel the conflict. When the fighting escalated, both gangs recruited hot-headed youngsters from their communities and reciprocal attacks on villages started to happen.

In the first stage of the conflict, the Muslim community suffered the greatest damage. Many were forced to flee and in particular three long-established communities, known as BBM (people originating from Buton, Bugis and Makassar) had to flee from Maluku becoming refugees in other islands. Retaliation was bound to happen. All over Indonesia appeals were made to help the suffering Muslims in Maluku.

In February 2000 a horrific bloodbath occurred in Tobelo and Galela, in North Maluku. It is estimated that 1,500 Muslims were butchered within a short space of time, which was possibly the highest death toll in a religious conflict in the history of Indonesia. Then, a hardline Malukan officer, Major General Suaidi Marassabessy, brought 800 Muslim soldiers from Sulawesi to wage attacks on Christian communities. By mid-2000 a new militia group appeared on the scene, Laskar Jihad, with recruits mostly from Javanese villages. Hundreds of Jihad warriors arrived in Ambon City, shifting the balance of power in favour of the Muslim side.

While all this was happening, the government in Jakarta sat idly by, watching on the sidelines. The conflict could only happen because of the consent and/or support of certain military wings. Laskar Jihad is a supreme example of hardline officers being the masters giving orders. Maluku increasingly descended into a war zone while measures taken by the government in Jakarta only strengthened the power base of the military. Maluku was given a second military command, with the province being split in two, Maluku and North Maluku and the whole area was placed under a civilian emergency. None of these measures contributed to improving security of the region. This situation did not last long because sections of the security forces adopted partisan positions in the conflict.

This was followed by a new phase with two military strategies vying with each other. The hardliners insisted on continuing the conflict because this would ensure that the military remained at the heart of the conflict, while creating opportunities to enjoy the spoils of war like smuggling, illegal logging and extortion. By 2002 the situation had become increasingly chaotic. Police units were siding with the Christians and army units were siding with the Muslims, with the marines trying to defend the beleaguered Christians. Lines of command no longer functioned and groups abroad adopted an attitude of resignation, feeling there was nothing useful they could do.

The other military strategy is based in Jakarta where the armed forces leadership have been trying to restore law and order but without much success. In just three years, three military commanders were appointed in Maluku, further proof that the line of command wasn't working. Maluku was overwhelmed with military. At the height of the conflict 9,000 military, 2,000 extra police and 500 marines were sent on top of the 15 battalions already in the region, but none of these efforts worked. Hostilities continued unabated and sections of the security forces continued to take sides. The present regional commander of the Pattimura military command which covers Maluku, Major General Djoko Santoso, was formerly commander of Kostrad's second division, one of the army's foremost combat units.

Then, Indonesia's best troops were sent in, a combination of Kopassus, marines and airforce commandos. This new force which is known as Yon Gab (Batalyon Gabungan, Joint Battalion) was formed to crack down on the Laskar Jihad forces. On two occasions, Yon Gab units viciously attacked two Muslim bastions, causing many casualties and extensive material damage. In the aftermath of those battles it became even clearer that scores of military were fighting alongside the Muslim combatants. But tt was also the first clear sign that law and order was gaining ground.

Peace efforts

At various levels, civil society in Maluku, Indonesian NGOs and the authorities tried to develop peace initiatives. With the best of intentions, none of these efforts bore much fruit because of the reality on the ground. The military and the militia groups were running the show and fuelling hostilities. Each time a peace initiative was taken, bloody incidents broke out.

But gradually conditions began to change. Efforts by traditional leaders and civil society organisations in Southeast Maluku started to bear fruit. Life returned to normal and the communities started to function under de-segregated conditions. In North Maluku hostilities also declined. Because of war-weariness, when incidents occurred, the targeted communities did not retaliate, realising that most of the incidents were stage-managed.

In due course, a joint effort by sections of civil society in Maluku and Indonesian NGOs, called the Baku Bae initiative, was taken, creating new openings. But the conditions were not yet conducive for establishing real reconciliation between the two sides.

In February 2002 the government in Jakarta brokered an important peace agreement called Malino II. but the military and their proxies responded by trying to sabotage the accord. A new round of bloody incidents occurred resulting in more disillusionment among the population in Central Maluku.

The authorities developed another strategy and began to round up the leaders of FKM (Front Kedaulatan Maluku, Maluku Sovereignty Front) and Laskar Jihad. The FKM had come into being early in the conflict and its leaders accused the authorities in Jakarta of carrying out a deliberate policy of creating mayhem in Maluku. In the second stage FKM decided to pick up the banner of RMS (South Maluku Republic), the independence struggle launched in 1950. The FKM as well as the RMS which still enjoys the support of the Malukan community in the Netherlands, are widely seen as Christian-based movements. FKM has no armed wing but is seen as a threat to Indonesia's territorial integrity. Several FKM leaders were arrested and charged with flying the banned flag of the RMS on 25 April.

The Laskar Jihad leader Jafar Umar Thalib was arrested at around the same time, accused of inciting violence and insulting the president. A few months later, on 7 October, the leaders of Laskar Jihad, decided to disband and halt its activities. About a thousand members left Maluku and returned to Java.

In October the police in Ambon decided to round up the Coker Gang. In the first raid 13 people were arrested but some key members, especially Berty Loupatty, were beyond the reach of the police because they enjoyed the protection of Kopassus. In December Loupatty surrendered to the police in Central Java and was placed under the protection of Brimob, the elite corps of the police. The removal of the two main militia groups Laskar Jihad and Coker Gang, has created more favourable conditions for reconciliation.

Unsavoury coalition

Confessions by Berty Loupatty have confirmed that most of the incidents were stage-managed by the military to fuel the ongoing conflict and ferment an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. Tempo Magazine in Jakarta gained access to police reports, revealing that Coker was involved in at least 13 incidents, 9 of which included members of Ko-passus.[Tempo No. 46, 19 January 2003].

Christian Rahayaan, a lawyer for Coker. told the press: 'During questioning, members of the Coker gang said Kopassus soldiers gave them directives, weapons and bombs to carry out every attack (in 2002). It's clear that the unrest in Maluku is the work of provocateurs. They use the pretext to create the impression that without the military, Maluku won't be safe'. [AFP, 8 January 2003].

According to police reports Coker was involved in the destruction of a public transport terminal on 27 August 2001, killing 2 persons and wounding 16. A month later the Christian militia group placed a bomb in a minibus, killing one person. On 12 November 2001, supported by a Kopassus member called Ridwan, Coker members planted a bomb in an electronics shop killing 3 persons. Just before Christmas Day 2001 they exploded a bomb on a ferry carrying hundreds of passengers, heading towards the Galala harbour in Ambon. The ferry sank, 4 people were killed and scores were wounded. The Kopassus member involved was known as Dio.

Together with Kopassus troops, Coker launched attacks on the villages of Portho and Haria on 10 April and 8 May 2002, with the intention of provoking the villagers to fight each other.

The attack on Soya

The most vicious combined operation of Coker and Kopassus was the attack on the village of Soya, located on the slopes of a mountain, on 28 April 2002. Logistically speaking, it would have been almost impossible for anyone without a professional background to launch an attack on Soya because of its location. The police report now explains what really happened. Ten members of Coker joined a force of 200 'phantom' troops in combat uniform and wearing masks. The attack happened at dawn using SS-1 machine guns and semi-automatic AK-47 rifles. Bombs and mortars were also used in the attack on defenceless villagers. A 'scorched earth' tactic was used, 22 houses were destroyed by fire, as well as the historic church of Soya built during Portuguese times and 12 people were killed. The Soya bloodbath created new tensions between Muslim and Christian communities. It is now clear that the attack was not the work of Muslim warriors as was thought at the time but an attack by a Christian militia gang together with Kopassus units.

These revelations spread panic among senior Kopassus officers. The Kopassus commander in Maluku during 2002 admitted that Berty Loupatty had been an informer but denied that his unit had trained and supported Coker. Then, the commander of Kopassus, Major-General Sriyanto Muntasram, sought to evade responsibility by claiming that Kopassus units based in Maluku were not under his command, but were the responsibility of the Pattimura military command. Major General Sriyanto himself will shortly go on trial for his alleged his role in a bloodbath in 1984 in Tanjung Priok against Muslim demonstrators (see separate article).

Loupatty's lawyer Rahajaan is convinced that the Kopassus men involved in these bloody incidents were part of the force's command structure and not 'rogue' elements or deserters. Berty Loupatty enjoyed protection from a Kopassus unit under First Lieutenant Rory Sitorus. In October the police finally decided to round up members of the Coker Gang but were not able to arrest Loupatty because of the protection of Lt. Sitorus. Even the support of Major General Djoko Santoso, the Pattimura military commander, did not help. But in December, Berty Loupatty, aware of the precariousness of his situation, left Ambon and surrendered to the police in Solo, Central Java.

It looks as if all the dirty tricks practised by Kopassus in East Timor for 25 years are being repeated in Maluku.

9. More Kopassus crimes in Papua

The shooting dead of three employees of the Freeport copper-and-gold mine in Timika, West Papua has added to the list of cases involving the army's elite corps. There is strong evidence that Kopassus members were involved in the murders. But now that the armed forces have seized control of the investigations, a cover-up is likely. However, seven Kopassus officers have gone on trial accused of the murder in November 2001 of West Papuan independence leader, Theys Eluay.

In both of these cases, the investigations have failed to examine the motivation of those responsible for planning the crimes but have focused exclusively on the perpetrators. Human rights and other civil society organisations have expressed their dismay at this turn of events and have called for independent investigations.

The Freeport murders

It was around midday on 31 August that a convoy of buses transporting teachers and children from Freeport's international school in Timika was attacked by gunmen. Three teachers were shot dead, an Indonesian and two Americans, while twelve adults and a child were injured. Major-General Mahidin Simbolon, the military commander of Papua, lost no time in blaming the OPM, the Free Papua Organisation, for the shooting. The allegation was quickly backed by a claim that a gunman, allegedly one of the killers, had been shot dead some hours later, during a search of the area; he was said to be a member of the OPM. But an autopsy of this unidentified man later revealed that he died some time before the attack, suggesting that the body had been planted to scapegoat the OPM. Investigations subsequently conducted by the human rights organisation, ELSHAM (Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights) and the provincial police have pointed to the involvement of members of the army's elite corps, Kopassus, in the murderous attack.

The OPM is not known to have directed attacks against civilians, Indonesian or foreign. While kidnappings have been carried out by OPM units, the killing of foreigners has never be part of their strategy. In a set of Principles of Operation announced in June last year, the OPM under Kelly Kwalik which is based in Timika said: 'Ordinary Indonesians or white people are not the enemy of the OPM'. In a statement issued a day after the Freeport employees were killed, Kelly Kwalik said : 'I say to the TNI: don't dare accuse us of being involved in the attack on the Freeport employees. For many years since 1977, we have maintained our physical attacks and we announce every attack to the TNI.'

Less than a week before the killings, John Rumbiak of ELSHAM met the OPM leader in Timika and obtained his agreement not to engage in acts of violence. This was part of a series of meetings Rumbiak held with OPM leaders, to secure their support for the idea of creating a Zone of Peace in Papua.

Crisis in Freeport security arrangements

The military have a vested interest in ensuring that its role in handling security for the hugely profitable mine is preserved. Only 25 per cent of the armed forces budget is covered by the state budget, meaning that it has to rely on a number of legal and illegal methods to help cover the deficit. An incident of this nature could well have been intended as a warning to Freeport not to deprive the army of this important source of income.

Freeport's outlay for the security arrangements is believed to have amounted to US$34.8 million in the five years from 1996. According to Tempo Magazine (January 14-20, 2002), the company spends between US$4 million and US$6 million a year to support the logistical needs of the armed forces. Around 80 per cent of this is paid in kind, the remainder going in supplementary allowances to the soldiers who guard the property.

The shooting happened at a time when security arrangements for the mine, the world's large copper-and-gold mine, were under severe strain. Security for the mine has been the responsibility of the military for many years. During the past year, there have been reports of thefts of Freeport property on several occasions by security officers but according to ELSHAM, the company has taken no action to deal with these crimes.

Immediately following the killings, John Rumbiak, in Australia at the time, said he did not believe that the OPM was involved and called for an independent inquiry into the incident, involving Americans.

Australian scholar, Denise Leith, who published a book late last year about Freeport, said that the adoption in the US of the Corporate Fraud Act in August made company CEOs personally accountable for their financial statements. Top Freeport-McMoran executives in the US signed up to this legislation. This would make it more difficult for the company to make unlawful payments to the military for security arrangements. This may have affected Freeport's relationship with the Indonesian military, she said, because 'the company has been accused for many years of paying money to the Indonesian military. There certainly have been recorded incidents of them paying money into the military's bank accounts. Now if Freeport continue to do this, they're going to be held responsible.'

Senior officers planned the attack?

On 3 November, The Washington Post came out with a startling report that shook the military establishment in Indonesia. It quoted intelligence sources as saying that the ambush of the Freeport convoy was discussed in advance by senior army officers.

'The discussions involved the top ranks of Indonesia's military, including Endriartono Sutarto, the influential commander in chief, and were aimed at discrediting a Papuan separatist group, the Free Papua Movement, said the US government official and another American source. The intelligence was based on information supplied after the ambush by a person who claimed to be knowledgeable about the high-level military conversations. The source was described in the report as "highly reliable".

'This information was supported by an intercept of a conversation including that individual, said the U.S. government official and the American source. The intercept was shared with the United States by another country, identified by a Western source as Australia.'

Endriartono responded furiously, and announced his intention to sue the newspaper for libel and demand $1 million in damages.

ELSHAM has also been warned that it will be sued by the military for suggesting that Kopassus may have been involved in the killings. In a report of their investigations made public on 25 September, an eye-witness who had been enlisted to assist Kopassus as an auxiliary was quoted as saying that Kopassus soldiers were involved in the shooting. It was the military commander of Papua, Major-General Mahidin Simbolon who is himself from Kopassus, who announced his intention to sue ELSHAM. Activists working for the human rights organisation have since been the target of intimidation and in late December, the wife and daughter of the organisation's executive director, Johannes Bonay were shot at and wounded. (See below.)

Kopassus members accused

Confirming what ELSHAM had said two months earlier, the deputy police chief of Papua, Brig.General Raziman Tarigan, announced in mid-November that eleven members of the army's elite force, Kopassus, have been named as suspects in the Freeport killings. He said the evidence about the officers' involvement had come from statements made by a local Papuan resident named Decky Murib who was also involved in the operation. According to Tarigan forensic tests showed that military-issue weapons including an M16 machine gun, an SS-1 rifle and a mouser rifle were used in the attack. He said that these weapons are used by the army in the area. [Jakarta Post, 22 December 2002.]

This announcement led to a furious row between the army and the police, with senior army spokesmen insisting that the witness was lying.

However, according to The Washington Post issue, quoted above, a U.S. government official had confirmed that 'the FBI briefed State Department and embassy officials about three weeks ago on the bureau's own investigation of the attack. FBI investigators have visited Papua as part of the probe.

' "The indications have pointed in that direction [of the military] but are not conclusive," the official said. The FBI is still interviewing witnesses, Freeport contract employees and their family members who have returned to the United States, he said.'

Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said it was 'very disturbing' that the military might be involved. 'And if it's true, I think it is extremely important for the government to get to the bottom of it.'

As we were going to press, there was intense pressure on the Megawati government from Washington for a thoroughgoing investigation and a request that an FBI team visit Timika again to continue with its investigations.

Police deputy chief pulled from case

Meanwhile, in a surprise move it was announced in early January that deputy police chief Brig. General Raziman Tarigan had been pulled from the investigation and withdrawn from Papua. Also withdrawn from the case and removed from his post was Police Commissioner H. Sumarjiyo, the police chief of Mimika (which covers Timika) who was also convinced of the involvement of Kopassus in the murders.

At the same time, it was announced that a joint investigation team of the police and the army, a so-called koneksitas team was being set up to take over the investigation of the Freeport killings. With the two police officers out of the way, this was clearly a move to enable the military to establish its version of the crime.

This is a case in which Washington needs to know the truth and explains their insistence on the FBI's involvement in the investigations. President Bush has been on the phone to President Megawati about the case. It comes at a time when Congress is due to consider lifting the ban on US sales of military equipment and the provision of training to the Indonesian military.

Kontras, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, condemned the decision to set up a joint team of investigation and insisted that criminal investigations were the sole responsibility of the police. The army's involvement in the investigations was clearly aimed at protecting the military and ensuring that the investigations would be limited to the men who carried out the operation (if indeed even the military police are compelled to accept that Kopassus officers were involved), while covering up the chain of command responsible for ordering the ambush, the organisation said. 'By imposing a koneksitas investigation, the armed forces have moved to safeguard their impunity and protect the armed forces against legal charges,' Kontras said.

Kopassus officers accused of Theys murder

Seven members of Kopassus went on trial before a military court in Surabaya in early January for the murder of the independence leader, Theys Hiyo Eluay. Eluay was the president of the Papuan Presidium Council which was set up at a congress attended by thousands of people in Jayapura in May-June 2000.

There is widespread scepticism in Papua that the trials will mete out justice. 'Soldiers killed him and soldiers will try the case. What kind of justice is that?' said Tom Beanal, who was Eluay's deputy on the Council.

Eluay was found dead in his car on 11 November 2001, several hours after attending a Kopassus dinner at the Kopassus Tribuana headquarters in Hamadi, near Jayapura. He had been invited to attend the event by Lt.Colonel Hartomo, commander of the base. Hartomo is one of the seven men now being charged in connection with his death. The driver of Eluay's car, Aristoteles Masuko, disappeared after returning to the Kopassus base, intending to report that the car had been hijacked and he had been ejected from the vehicle. However, the trial is dealing only with the murder of Theys, and not with the driver's disappearance.

According to the indictment, after the dinner, Lt.Colonel Hartomo ordered two of his men to accompany Eluay on his journey home. During the journey, one of the soldiers clamped his hand over the Papuan leader's mouth several times until he stopped breathing.

The indictment alleges that Hartomo discovered that Theys was planning to re-affirm West Papua's independence on 1 December, the anniversary of the declaration in 1961. He had therefore instructed some of his men to accompany the Papuan leader in his car and try to persuade him not to go ahead with this plan. Theys rejected the request and, according to the prosecution, he started swearing at the soldiers. As the discussion became more acrimonious, the driver threatened to halt the car and draw attention to passersby. He then did this, shouting, 'thief, thief', with Theys joining in. The driver is then said to have run away , and one of the soldiers took over the wheel and drove the car to Koya. Inside the vehicle, according to the indictment, Theys continued to scream words of abuse, whereupon one of the soldiers clamped his hand over the Papuan leader's mouth to keep him quiet. He did this three times and then realised that the Papuan leader was dead. The soldiers then abandoned the car and were picked up by a second vehicle carrying soldiers which had followed the Papuan leader's car when it left the base, and were driven back to base. When they reported the incident to their commander, Hartomo, he told them to get some rest and did not report the incident to his superiors but instead watched the security situation to see what the impact of the incident might be.

The indictment seems designed to stress that the soldiers who killed Theys had been provoked by his belligerence and his determined stand on the question of independence for his country. Although the charge they face carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, it appears likely that the military court will deal very leniently with the men because of these alleged circumstances. The only person who could have given a different account of what happened in the vehicle is Aristoteles Masuko, but he has disappeared, after returning to the Kopassus base, and is presumed dead.

ELSHAM director's wife shot

On 28 December, the wife and daughter of Johannes Bonay, executive director of ELSHAM were shot at and wounded while being driven back to Jayapura from the border with Papua New Guinea. A woman friend who was travelling with them was also wounded. Else Rumbiak, Bonay's wife, and her female companion, Yeni Ireuw Meraundje, were both shot in the leg. Yeni was later flown to Jakarta for special treatment because of the seriousness of her injuries. Marlina Bonay, Bonay's daughter, sustained an injury to her shoulder.

It is very likely that the gunmen's target was Bonay himself who originally intended to accompany his wife on the journey, but decided at the last minute not to travel with her. The three women were on their way to Vanimo in PNG but when they arrived at a border post quite early in the morning, there were no immigration officials to check their documents so they decided to return to Jayapura. Later attempts to investigate the scene of the crime were called off when the police were shot at by unknown individuals.

ELSHAM's deputy director, Allosyus Renwarin later linked this attack to the activities of Johannes Bonay. He said that the tires of Bonay's car had recently been slashed and the phone at the family's home had been mysteriously disconnected. (Jakarta Post, 29 December) Renwarin would not speculate on who might have been responsible for the shooting but drew attention to the fact that it occurred only 100 metres from a military post. He said that the men who made the attack appear to have been professional; forty bullets were fired at the vehicle at close range. (AP, 29 December)