West Papua, Pacific
The West Papuan territorial conflict stems from Indonesia’s incorporation of the territory in its post-colonial era. West Papuans refute the 1969 ‘Act of Free Choice’ that proclaimed West Papua as Indonesian territory. West Papuan grievances with Indonesian rule, including human rights abuses, militarisation and frustrations about self-determination, have attracted increasing international attention and concern. A rising Indonesia is gaining influence throughout the region, countering support for West Papuan independence aims, and Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) members (Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s Kanaks) have become divided over West Papua. Recent clashes between West Papuans and security forces and the emergence of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) have further accelerated tensions. Since the Indonesian takeover of West Papua in the 1960s, an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 West Papuans have been killed.
The Indonesian Government has recently passed legislation to expand West Papua’s existing two provinces into five. This decision has been criticised by West Papuans as it threatens to reduce the region’s autonomy and will likely result in an increased Indonesian military presence. Whether this leads to instability and violence remains to be seen.
Where: West Papua/Western New Guinea
Casualties: Over 500,000 indigenous West Papuans killed since the 1960s
Goal: Independence from Indonesia, seeking self-determination for the people of West Papua
The Key Actors
A separatist group operating out of West Papua. The group frequently organises attacks against Indonesian security forces within Papua. The group aims to unite West Papuans, both inside and outside West Papua.
The southern coast of New Guinea (‘Papua’) was granted as a British protectorate in 1884, taking the name of British New Guinea. Other countries, namely Germany and the Netherlands, set claim to New Guinea land by establishing trading posts. The territory of West Papua remains a Dutch colony until 1962.
Indonesia proclaimed Papua an important part of the nation in its declaration of independence on 17 August 1945. It was claimed that Indonesia included all parts of the former Netherlands Indies.
Indonesia’s surrounding islands were colonized by the Dutch, however, as the Republic of Indonesia gained independence as a nation state in 1949, West Papua did not join the country. As the Dutch government acknowledged West Papua’s geographical, ethnic and cultural difference to Indonesia, the Dutch government prepared West Papua for its own independence in the 1950s.
The U.S. urged the Dutch Prime Minister to hand over West Papua to Indonesia, in an attempt to appease a communist friendly Indonesian government. The US government set up a meeting between Indonesia and the Netherlands which resulted in the New York Agreement that gave control of West Papua to the United Nations.
West Papua was transferred to Indonesia where an agreement under UN supervision mandated Indonesia give West Papuans the opportunity to express freedom of choice by ‘ascertaining’ their will. However, the oppressive Suharto regime catalysed clashes between Indonesian security forces and West Papuan rebels.
In 1963, control of West Papua was transferred to Indonesia. The Papuans were never consulted. However, the agreement did promise them their right to self-management and determination.
West Papuan people are horrified by brutal abuse by Indonesian military and the disappearance of many leaders. As a result, the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) movement is formed to coordinate political efforts to regain independence and freedom from Indonesia
In 1984, after Indonesia installed extensive military warfare and captured traditionally owned land. More than 10,000 West Papuans crossed the border to obtain sanctuary in Papua New Guinea.
Since the fall of the Soeharto government in 1998, Indonesia has undertaken many institutional and judicial developments. Post-Soeharto administrations have also officially acknowledged the long history of human rights violations by security forces in Aceh and Papua and authorized special autonomy arrangements for both.
The ‘Papuan Spring’ of 1999 ended abruptly with Indonesian authorities clamping down on pro-independence activities, and a new hardline president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, who declared that without West Papua, “Indonesia is not complete”.
Concessions from Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) led to 2000’s landmark Second Papuan People’s Congress in Jayapura, in which West Papuan demands for independence were made clear.
KNPB (National Committee for West Papua) chairman Mako Tabuni was killed by Indonesian police, whilst many others face lengthy jail sentences for raising the West Papuan flag.
On the morning of 8 December 2014, military armed forces opened fire on hundreds of Papuan demonstrators assembled nearby the district headquarters of the military and police, in the town of Enarotali, in Papua Province.
The demonstration was a reaction to military personnel allegedly abusing Papuan children in East Paniai Subdistrict the day before. After demonstrators started throwing stones and pieces of wood at the building, security forces opened fire into the crowd, killing four people.
A historic meeting was held at British parliament in Westminster where West Papuan leaders and other leaders from Pacific countries and elsewhere gathered together and affirmed their support for the people of West Papua being able to choose their own future to live in a free and Independent nation.
Peaceful protesters are injured and up to 6 are killed after Indonesian police fire live rounds into a crowd of students protesting for independance for Papua.
Up to 41 people were killed in clashes between with security forces and Jihadi-inspired militia.
Over 6,000 Indonesian troops are deployed to various provinces in West Papua, including its captial, to break down protests and anti-racial discrimination rallies.
Clashes between security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army have escalated since January 2020, which human rights groups say have resulted in at least five deaths. At least two other civilians were killed in another incident.
The separatist group West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) attacked workers at the Freeport mine in Papua province, reportedly killing a New Zealander and wounding many others. The mine has been the target of Papuan rebels fighting for self-determination, who view business and development projects as encroaching on Papuan land.
The British Government stated its support for a visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. With this announcement, Britain became the 82nd state to formally support the proposal, following calls from the member states of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).
Amid increasing violence, West Papuan leaders have declared a provisional “government-in-waiting” the day before the December 1st anniversary of West Papua’s declaration of independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1961.
Currently living in exile in Oxford, former ULMWP Chair Benny Wenda is appointed interim President of the ‘provisional government-in-waiting.’
The Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Stef Blok stated: ‘it is important to have such a visit’ by the High Commissioner ‘as soon as possible’. He also noted the government’s awareness of large-scale opposition in the Netherlands against Indonesia’s Special Autonomy Law.
The head of the Papuan People’s Assembly declared its rejection of the Indonesian government’s draft, which proposes to negate the authority of the Papua provincial governor, the MRP and the Papuan Representative Council (DPRP).
- On April 2, the WPCC released an open letter addressed to the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (SMG), calling for attention to the degenerating situation in West Papua. It also urged President Widodo to follow up on his promise to meet the Papua pro-referendum group.
On April 6, Greenpeace’s report titled ‘License to Clear: The Dark Side of Permitting in West Papua’ details that nearly a total of a million hectares have been released from the forest estate for plantations in Papua province since 2000. It also urged the Indonesian government and the provincial governments to protect the area designed for palm oil plantations in Papua from further deforestation.
- On April 25, Indonesia’s top intelligence official in Papua Province Brig. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha was shot and killed near a church in remote Darubet Village in Papua’s central highlands, 20 miles northeast of the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine. Separatist group The West Papua National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for this death, with no other casualty reported in the ambush. General Danny is the 1st general to die in action in Indonesia’s history.
Following the death of regional intelligence chief Brig. Gen.I Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha, the Indonesian government announced an updated list of terror groups on April 29, which included Papuan armed group KKB. Mahfud MD, Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister, stated during Thursday’s press briefing that ‘the government has deemed that organizations and people in Papua who commit mass violence are categorized as terrorists,’ and that this is in line with the 2018 Counterterrorism Law.
On April 30, PT Telkom Indonesia confirmed that internet services to Jayapura, the capital of Indonesia’s Papua province, have been cut. They said that this was due to the disconnection of the Sulawesi Maluka Papua Cable System at the Biak-Sarmi line. Additionally, Puncak reported mobile and internet services having been cut as the armed conflict is flaring.
On May 6, an army spokesman announced that Indonesia has deployed 400 more soldiers – the 351/Garuda Battalion – in Papua’s easternmost region. Papua’s interim president Benny Wenda warned that Papua appears to be facing the largest military operations since the 1970s. The 315/Garuda Battalion took part in East Timor and Aceh’s bloody conflicts, and have earned the nickname ‘Satan troops.’
On May 9, Satgas Nemangkawi, Indonesia’s special police unit, arrested WP National Committee spokesman Victor Yeimo in Japayapura. He was arrested on grounds of treason for a 2019 statement that called for a referendum on independence.
On May 15, Indonesia’s ambassador to Papua New Guinea Andriana Supandy called on Papua New Guinea authorities to act over the threat of East Sepik, an illegal group claiming to form an army unit to help West Papuan pro-independence rebels fight Indonesian forces. The video features a group dressed in military fatigues and armed with automatic rifles, voicing support for the West Papuan rebels. The Indonesian embassy has been informed that Papua New Guinea’s government officials are investigating the video.
Following the West Papua government, national anti-corruption agency KPK, and NGO EcoNusa’s review of administrative and legal violations, the West Papuan government rescinded the permits for 12 concessions in 5 districts. These spanned 661,889 acres altogether
On 6 June, the Jayawijaya District police confirmed the death of an indigenous Papuan following a brawl with a military member, showing clear evidence. Military officials were reported to have even convinced the victims’ relatives to settle the case outside the law, and even offered a bribery of IDR 100 million for their silence.
The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (JPIC Kingmi Papua) reported that Nemangkawi joint security forces killed three civilians in a security force operation against the West Papua National Liberation Army. Their names are Patianus Kogoya and his wife Paitena Murib, and Erialek Kogoya. In addition to these casualties, three other civilians were wounded.
On 11 June, fully-armed Indonesian police members came to the book launch of ‘Papuans prosecuted for demanding dignity,’ written by human rights defender and former church worker at the Centre for Empowerment and Development of Women in Jayapura. This has caused an interruption, but after the police left the premises, several plain cloth police officers came to continue monitoring the event and justified it as a routine patrol.
On 15 June, the West Papua Council of Churches’ open letter condemned President Widodo’s designation of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) as a terrorist organization, and argued that Indonesian actions in West Papua are ‘colored by a colonial gaze.’ They also denounce the successive Indonesian governments for treating Papuans ‘like monkeys.’ In light of Indonesia’s rejection of the RP2 resolution at last week’s UN General Assembly, the letter also condemned Indonesia’s gross hypocrisy of speaking out about the ongoing Palestinian and Rohingya genocide. ‘Indonesia is desperately trying to cover up its own crimes against humanity in West Papua,’ stated President Benny Wenda.
On 15th July 2021, the Indonesian House of Representatives passed a Revision of the Special Autonomy Law. There have been protests against the bill which have been cancelled by police to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The revision aims to improve Papuan participation in all levels of government and frees up more funds to use towards development in the region. However, Papuan leaders and other features of civil society were not consulted in the design and implementation of this bill, becoming another example of Jakarta ignoring the self-determination of the Papuan people. Additionally, the bill does not address other major grievances like increasing militarisation, degradation of autonomy, and the release of political prisoners, nor does it enshrine mechanisms to prevent corruption which plagued the initial implementation of the Special Autonomy Law in 2001.
On 21st July 2021, Benny Wenda called on Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the US to provide covid vaccines directly to West Papua as the delta variant surges into the region. Wenda highlights that Jakarta has fundamentally failed to develop effective health infrastructure in its Papuan provinces. This is compounded by internal displacement caused by recent Indonesian military operations, that has resulted many Papuans’ moving into temporary camps – which will become hotspots of disease. Reuters reporting highlights that West Papua has the lowest rates of vaccination across the Indonesian archipelago and hospitals are already reaching capacity. This can be partially attributed to distrust of the central government in the region.
On 31st July 2021, following a dreadful assault by two Indonesian military policemen who stomped on the head of 18-yeard old Steven Yadohaman, a disabled indigenous Papuan, the ULMWP called on Indonesia to be suspended from the UN Council of Human Rights. Spokespeople from the organisation likened this latest crime to the murder of George Floyd in the United States. Describing the incident yet another example of the systemic racism and abuse experienced by Papuans from the Indonesian state. Representatives from the Indonesian Air Force have stated that the two officers will be tried in a military court.
On 13th August 2021, it became known to international audiences on the deteriorating health of Victor Yeimo, the leader of West Papua National Committee (KNBP). KNBP is the largest non-violent advocacy organisation for West Papuan independence. Initially arrested in May, for his alleged role in widespread anti-racism protests that took place in 2019, Yeimo has been kept in isolation without visitation from family or legal advisors. Furthermore, he has several pre-existing health conditions that make him vulnerable to COVID-19, and current vaccine supply constraints prevent Yeimo from getting vaccinated. Other reports indicate Yeimo is being fed nutritionally poor foods that could lead to stomach ulcers, this treatment could be classified as torture.
On 1st September 2021, the Organisation for African, Caribbean, and Pacific States released a statement calling for UNHRC investigation into the West Papua. In the release OACPS acknowledges the work and leadership shown by the Pacific Island Forum on this issue and asserts that the organisation recognises that Indonesia “exercises full sovereignty” over the region.
On 2nd September 2021, four Indonesian soldiers were killed in a midnight ambush at Kisor military outpost by an unidentified group. This attack is the latest escalation in conflict between Indonesian armed forces and various militant independence groups in West Papua.
On 3rd September 2021, three palm oil producers had their licenses revoked due various administrative and legal deficiencies, locking them out of a collective 90,000 hectares. This swathe of land is traditionally held and corporate intrusion into those spaces is playing an active role in alienating indigenous peoples from their land.
On 9th September 2021 on the eve of an Australia-Indonesia 2+2 meeting where the foreign minister and defence minister of each country discuss upcoming challenges and opportunities for cooperation, the Australian West Papua Association advocated for the human rights abuses in West Papua to be put onto the agenda. Australia has a major role in the training of Indonesian counterterrorism and anti-human smuggling personnel, and the provision of materiel for Indonesian security services. The transcript of the 2+2 conference makes a brief reference to human rights and the work of the PIF, without specific mention of West Papua.
On 12th September 2021, reports indicate that thousands of people have fled their villages fearing military raids as the TNI searches for more members of the West Papua Liberation Army, who claimed responsibility for the attack, after making two arrests already. There are calls by the TNI for the villagers to return home, their reluctance to do so highlights the estrangement and fear the average Papuan holds regarding Indonesian security forces.
On September 16th, the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation attacked a medical outpost in remote Kiwirok. 22-year-old healthcare worker, Gabriela Meilan was killed in the attack, and other medical staff were beaten. The clinic, bank, and school buildings were also burned down as part of this violence.
On September 21, Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, has called on Indonesia to give Victor Yeimo, who is currently in custody, urgent medical attention to prevent his death. According to her statements, in congruence with other reporting on the issue, Yeimo has been denied medical attention for months – treatment that is tantamount to torture.
On September 24, residents of Kiwirok have been evacuated from their village after important facilities were burned, and the conflict between the TNI and rebel groups intensify. The conflict represents yet more internal displacement of Papuans and Indonesians alike, severely disrupting their everyday life.
On September 29, during the 76th UN General Assembly the Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in separate statements. Both Melanesian leaders stated that the slow progress regarding UN investigation into human rights in West Papua is lamentable, particularly with the energy the Pacific Island Forum has campaigned to put this issue on the international agenda.
On October 2, 17 pro-Papuan independence activists were arrested in front of the American embassy in Jakarta. This protest was organised to mark the 1962 signing of the Rome Agreement, the legislation that marked the transition of West Papuan from the Netherlands to Indonesia. The police claimed that the arrests were enforcing health regulations to contain the spread of covid-19.
On October 7, a man was arrested inside a sports arena for wearing the Morning Star, the flag of West Papua, on his shirt. Brother Frater Anton Syufi was arrested at 4am Sunday morning and then released the same day at 7pm. The apparent criminalisation of the symbol of Papuan autonomy is a sure sign of the palpable tensions between Jakarta and West Papua.
On October 22, Green Peace Indonesia published a report highlighting the damaging effects of illegal palm oil plantations in West Papua. This issue is at a critical intersection of climate change and indigenous land rights. The deforestation of traditionally held Papuan lands contributes to the eradication of their culture, and marks Indonesia out in the wider fight against climate change. Read the report here
On October 27, Indigenous Papuans won a major lawsuit against palm oil firm, preventing it from expanding its operations further. Despite this important legal win, these remote communities do not hold land titles to pre-emptively prevent any future attempts at commercial cultivation of traditional lands.
On October 28, the continued violence in the highlands of West Papua has seen displaced peoples cross the border into Papua New Guinea. These border crossings commonplace because of the mountainous terrain, and it poses a major health problem for Papua New Guinea. West Papua has the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccination in all of Indonesia, and PNG’s health system is being pushed to its breaking point due to the disease.
On November 5, Benny Wenda, the leader of the ULMP government in exile, has launched the ‘Green State Vision’. The plan is a response the expansive Jakarta led development of West Papua, that is being pursed at the cost of the environment. Deforestation to pursue mining and create palm oil plantations are being described as an ecocide of Papuan traditional lands and the world’s third largest rainforest.
On December 15, the West Papuan Council of Churches called for an end to the military occupation of West Papua. The statement from the Council of Churches was unambiguous in its denouncement of the violence wielded by the state as a force that is actively eroding communities and culture, and it is doing so to exploit the vast natural resources of the region. The Council called for Indonesia to allow foreign journalists and the UNHCR to access the region.
On December 15, Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, spoke out against the harassment of Veronica Korman and her family. Korman is an Indonesian human rights lawyer who has disseminated important information regarding the violation of human rights in West Papua committed by the government in Jakarta in 2019. She faces a six year prison sentence in Indonesia for doing so and has gone into a self-imposed exile in Australia. Her family still in Indonesia has been harassed, threatened, and intimidated.
On December 18, Papuan families have resolved to seek aid from the UN and the UNCHR to launch an investigation into the Paniai Massacre. In December 2014, Indonesian soldiers fired on Papuan high school students killing five and injuring seventeen. Shortly after this incident, then newly elected, President Joko Widodo pledged to resolve the case – this investigation has failed to produce any results.
On January 7, the civil organisation Papuan People’s Petition called for the release of Victor Yeimo, an activist who was unlawfully arrested in August 2021 and whose maltreatment post-arrest garnered international attention due to his declining health. In November 2021, the 2001 law granting Special Autonomy status to Papua and West Papua was set to expire, and its extension was pushed through the Indonesian government in July 2021 without consulting the provincial government and other interested stakeholders.
On January 11, United Liberation Movement for West Papua announced plans to open multiple offices as the government-in-waiting, headquartered in West Papua. Diplomatic missions are being opened in the UK and Port Vila, and a government branch in Port Moresby. As part of the New Year Message, Interim President Benny Wenda reiterated the desire for an independence referendum, the release of political prisoners including Victor Yeimo and the Abepura Eight and allowing international journalists and the UNCHRs into West Papua.
On January 27, a TNI post in the Puncak District of Papua was ambushed by Free West Papua (OPM) fighters, seeing three Indonesian soldiers killed in the fighting. Following this attack the Vice President, Ma’ruf Amin, publicly called for better coordination within the security apparatus employed in West Papua. To that end, it was reported that, the Vice President personally met with General Andika Perkasa, head of the TNI, and with representatives from the provincial government of West Papua in separate meetings. In an interview with OPM representative Sebby Sambom insisted that the Indonesian military and police only existed to harass and terrorize Papuans. Furthermore, he said that under Papuan custom the Indonesian security forces were considered thieves because of their unjust taking of Papuan land – and this grounds for continued violence.
On February 8, TNI General Andika Perkasa announced plans to changes the military’s strategy in Papua and West Papua. He aims to employ a softer approach by deescalating the use of force by the military and working more with local police to resolve issues. Experts have noted that while this is a positive development, it is a strategy that keeps the TNI and police central to the solution and these are the two arms of government that Papuans trust the least.
On February 21, the EU Parliament called for Indonesia to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights into West Papua in response to a question put to it by International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) Vice Chair Carles Puigdemont. As part of this answer the EU Parliament also stated from 2001 it had sent a total of 4.7 million euro to fund sustainable development initiatives, like democratisation, civil society development, and peace processes to the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Additionally, it had funded 112 million euro in multiple sectors including climate change and human rights across Indonesia, which includes West Papua.
Interim President of the Provisional ULMWP Government Benny Wenda, supported the call for the involvement of the UN. Wenda also highlighted that the international funding the EU had sent to Indonesia that was intended to be used for facilitating development goals and the peace process had, in his view, been wasted. Consequently, Wenda suggests that the EU curtail its economic relations with Indonesia, particularly ventures that involve West Papua.
On February 22, Victor Yeimo has formally been indicted on charges of treason. Court appearances have been delayed following his arrest in May of 2021 due to his ailing health, exacerbated by the poor condition of his detention facilities. Yeimo soundly rejects this charge because he was taking actions against the perpetuation of racism in Indonesia – and he believes this racism is the reason for his arrest.
Local activists in New Zealand have lobbied their government to press Indonesia to release Yeimo.
On March 1 2022, UN experts have released a joint statement on allegations of human rights abuses the Indonesian government is responsible for in West Papua. The experts have received word that as of 2018 there was between 60,000 – 100,000 internally displaced peoples in the province and humanitarian aid have been prevented from entering affected communities. Internally displaced peoples also suffer disproportionately from malnutrition and lack accessible health services, which further compounds their mistreatment.
The UN also referenced an incident where fighting between military and the West Papua National Liberation Army caused the death of a two-year old boy caught in the crossfire. As such, the UN called on the Indonesian government to launch an independent investigation into these allegations, and crucially take steps to prevent future human rights violations.
On March 3, eight civilian technicians were killed by the West Papua National Liberation Army. The technicians had been sent by a state-backed telecom company, Telkomsel, to repair a damaged telecommunications tower. The group had previously warned civilians to evacuate the area, designating it a warzone.
On March 8 protests have emerged across West Papua in response to Jakarta’s plan to create three new provinces in West Papua by dividing up the existing two. These protests have persisted throughout March 2022. By creating smaller administrative units, Jakarta aims to improve the effectiveness of governance in the region. However, the infrastructure that needs to be put in place to demarcate the new borders of these provinces – particularly military outposts – will create more distrust between Papuan communities and Indonesia. Thousands of Papuans have taken to the streets to demand political autonomy and self-governance. In response, Indonesian Police have forcefully dispersed protestors causing injuries and making arrests.
On April 12 2022, the draft law to create three new Papuan provinces by dividing the existing provinces of Papua and West Papua was approved. Law makers aim to pass the law in June, despite the mass protests that have occurred. Other objections to the erection of new internal borders highlight that this decision was made without adequate consultations and is further protracting any possibility of peace between Papua and Indonesia.
As a consequence of food supply insecurity brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Jakarta has sought to revive the Food Estate on 29 April 2022. Food Estate is a large scale plot of land developed for intense agricultural output, with 3.2 million hectares of Papuan land earmarked by Jakarta to be used for this large-scale agricultural development. A recent report published by TAPOL in partnership with AwasMIFEE, has highlighted that Food Estates represent a major threat to indigenous communities. The loss of traditionally held lands to these mega-projects underpinned by the need of national interest present a multifaceted dilemma the invokes the crises of climate change, systemic corruption, and the persistent disenfranchisement of Papuans in Indonesia.
Indonesian authorities have used a water cannon
against protesters in the province of Papua after
thousands marched against the government’s decision
to divide the two West Papuan provinces into five.
While Indonesia claims this would make the region
easier to develop and government, it would also result
in a larger military presence, which is a concern to local
Papuan leader, Victor Yeimo, has been arrested by
Indonesian authorities on suspicion of treason.
Authorities claim that Mr Yeimo broadcast reports or
statements that could result in public unrest. Mr
Yeimo is the latest of a number of Papuans to have
been arrested over alleged treason following the
protests in the region.
A West Papuan protester has been injured during
clashes with Indonesian police in Jayapura. The Papua
Legal Aid Foundation has claimed that the protester
was critically injured by a rubber bullet fired by police.
This comes as protesters continue to march against the
proposed carve up of the existing two provinces of
Activists have condemned an arson attack on the
Papuan Legal Aid Foundation and have called on police
to investigate. Activists claim that a motorbike was set
alight in the garage of the organisation, which is
located in Jayapura.
Indonesian authorities have claimed that the West
Papuan separatist group the KKB have fired on a cargo
plane in the region. This report is difficult to confirm
and was published only through Indonesian state
The Indonesia government has claimed that the
Papuan Peoples Forum supports its controversial plan
to divide the two existing provinces of West Papua
into five. This came after talks between the
government and the forum. However, it must be noted
that the Forum is a government institution and does
not necessarily represent the views of West Papuans.
The Governor of Papua has stated that the Indonesian
government’s plan to divide West Papua’s two
provinces into six is not viable. The Governor said that
the local population of region had not been consulted.
The move from the government is controversial as
additional provinces will likely result in an increased
military presence, increasing the chances of further
clashes with West Papuans.
Floods have hit three provinces in the Wondana Bay
District leading to the flooding of hundreds of homes.
No deaths have been reported as yet.
2,500 mortar shells purchased by Indonesia’s spy
agency were used in attacks on eight Papuan villages.
This was reported by the arms monitoring group
Conflict Armament Research said that these arms were
converted to be dropped from helicopters.
Thousands of protesters participated in marches in
protest to the Indonesian government’s plan to create
more provinces in West Papua. Protests occurred in
Jayapura, Wamena, Paniai, Sorong, Rimika, Yahukimo,
Lanny Jaya, Nabire and Merauke. This represents a
noticeable pushback from the indigenous population
you reject the government’s plan.
Indonesian police have been accused of beating
peaceful protesters with rattan sticks, injuring 20
people and seizing the ‘morning star’ flag used by
protesters. Protesters were blocked by police in West
Papua as they were marching towards the provincial
capital of Jayapura.
Clashes have taken place between West Papuan
protesters in Makassar and the Indonesian Muslim
Brigade. It has been reported that the West Papuan
protesters were marching peacefully towards a local
monument before being blocked by the brigade.
Several people were injured.
The Indonesian National Human Rights Commission has discussed the plan to hold dialogue to resolve issues of violence and conflict in West Papua during its visit to the United Nations in Geneva. This offers hope of a de escalation after West Papuan independence advocates have been publicly unhappy with moves to divide West Papuan provinces.
The Indonesian parliament has discussed the bill to expand West Papua’s three provinces into five. The move is unpopular with West Papuan independence advocates who fear that the increase of provinces will decrease autonomy for indigenous people and see an increase in the presence of Indonesian authorities.
An Indonesian army deserter has reportedly joined an
armed group and conducted attacks on Papuan civilians, killing ten people. The Papuan Police Commissioner confirmed the information at a press conference on July 16.
Indonesian media has reported that Socratez Yoman, a West Papuan advocate, has public stated that moves to create three new provinces will create ‘puppet provinces. This criticism is similar to other West Papuan independence groups who fear that this will
remove any autonomy the region has already gained from Indonesia.
A gun battle has taken place in Papua between an armed group and Indonesian authorities. The fight occurred in the Gome military district. There were no reported casualties.
The Indonesian parliament has passed legislation to create three additional provinces in West Papua. Critics claim that the move will undermine the standing of the local population and threaten the
autonomy powers the region already has. The region will now be split into five provinces, with the addition of South Papua, Central Papua and Highland Papua.
The Indonesian Government plans to immediately move to legislate to form a regional government to regulate the number of parliamentary seats in West Papua’s three new regions. This comes as the Indonesian Government recently passed a bill to divide West Papua from two provinces into five.
Indonesian authorities have sized weapons at a border checkpoint in the Jair District in West Papua. Police are still investigating the origin and ownership of the weapons and raises concerns over increased instability and violence in West Papua.
An ammunition supplier has been arrested for supplying the KKB, an armed West Papuan independence group. The arrest was made in the Papua province by Indonesian authorities.
Nine people have reportedly been shot dead in West Papua claimed to have been perpetrated by armed separatists. While this claim is difficult to verify, local police in Jayapura announced the shootings, which are the deadliest in some years.
West Papuan armed group, the Bantu KKB Papua, has attached and killed ten people and wounded two in an attack in the Nduga district. Indonesian police claim that attacks were launched on four sits in the region. This attack is another example of instability in the reason after the decision to divide West Papua into five provinces.
Indonesian police are searching for nine suspects who allegedly killed ten people in Nduga in West Papua. Police have blamed the killings on the Bantu KKB Papua, an armed group that is part of the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation.
Indonesian police have seized rounds of ammunition and sharp weapons during a raid in Wamena in Papua Province. This comes are unrest has grown after the passing of legislation that expanded West Papua’s two presents to five.
The Kramat Jati Police Criminal Investigation Unit is pursuing two suspects of the shooting murder of Papuan journalist, Firdaus Parlindungan. A third suspect was previously arrested.
The shooting of a person in the Prafi District in West Papua has been transferred to a military court for trial. The accused is the unnamed brother-in-law of the victim.
Floods have struck the West Papuan city of Sorong, killing two people. This raises questions about environmental mitigation efforts from the Indonesian government, which have been lacking in the face of environmental degradation and climate change.
Indonesian troops have allegedly killed and mutilated four west Papuans. The bodies of the victims were found in the village of Mimika, in Iwaka by local residents. Indonesian authorities have since arrested six members of the military in response to the killings.
Seven people have been found guilty by the Jayapura District Court of raising the banned ‘Morning Star’ flag in the Melanesian region of Indonesia. All seven were jailed for 10 months. The flag is considered a symbol of West Papuan independence and the banning of the flag by Indonesian authorities is an attack of the human rights of West Papuans.
An Indonesian intelligence observer, Stanislaus Riyanta, has said that foreign NGO’s who support West Papuan independence should be monitored by the government. It is claimed that these organisations help assist protests and ‘illegal’ funding for these groups. This is a serious concern and another attack on the human rights of West Papuans, who have a right to peacefully protest.
Indonesian media has reported that the KKB has carried out an attack on a road construction camp in the Bintang Mountains. It is claimed that 34 employees are now in hospital and that a number of heavy vehicles have been burnt.
West Papuan protesters have stormed the police headquarters in Kota Raja in Jayapura after accusing the Indonesian authorities of ‘criminalising’ local Governor Lukas Enembe. Enembe has recently been investigated by the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission. Enembe has denied the allegations and has been targeted by the authorities on a number of occasions.
Indonesian media has reported that protests over the investigation of Governor Luka Enembe have ‘ended peacefully’ after they left Jayapura city. This was in response to a large police presence and it is unclear whether any arrests were made.
Three leaders of the West Papua Committee (KNPB) have been arrested by Indonesian authorities. All three have been accused of either being members of the KKB or supplying weapons and ammunition to the separatist group.
Four people have allegedly been shot and killed by the West Papua National Liberation Army, a rebel independence group in West Papua. It is believed that the people killed were Indonesian intelligence personnel disguised as road construction workers.
Indonesian police have arrested 11 alleged perpetrators of the shooting deaths of construction workers on the Bintuni-Maybrat trans road in Majnik village.
The Indonesian parliament have agreed on the proposed bill on the formation of the North Papua province. This is the next legislative step after the parliament initially approved the creation of five new provinces for West Papua.
West Papuan students in Australia have appealed to the Indonesian government to respect the rights of Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, who was been imprisoned on suspicion of receiving bribes. Enembe has claimed to be ill but the government has refused him to seek medical treatment abroad.
Indonesian media reports that 11 KKB members have attacked construction workers on the trans-West Papua road. There have been no reports of casualties and police claim to have identified the perpetrators.
The Indonesian Government has sent 450 soldiers into West Papua to strengthen security. This comes after a string of fire fights between government forces and West Papuan independence fighters in the region.
The Indonesian Minister of Home Affairs, Tito Karnavian, has stated publicly that three of the new provinces in West Papua will be inaugurated by the end of October. This comes as the Indonesian parliament previously legislated the creation of additional provinces in West Papua.
Indonesian police claim to have arrested 10 of the 21 alleged perpetrators of the attack on the Kisor Rayon Military Command Post in West Papua. The alleged perpetrators have been sentenced to court and now await proceedings.
Indonesian police have arrested three people suspected of having ties to the Federal Republic of West Papua (NRFRB), a separatist movement for West Papuan independence.
A West Papuan independence activist who had earlier raised the banned Morning Star flag in a protest has died. Family have said that there was no foul play and that this was due to illness.
Activist Filep Karma has been found dead on the shoreline in Jayapura, Papua, after diving and allegedly being swept away by the current. Filep was one of many West Papuan independence figures, with thousands of West Papuans expected to attend his funeral.
The chair of the Papua Customary Council has said that the council will undertake an investigation into the death of Papuan independence leader Filep Karma. Karma was found dead near Jayapura after entering the water to dive.
Indonesian police have reportedly begun an investigation into rioting in the Dogiyai Regency. It is believed that the rioting began after a child was killed in a road accident days earlier.
Indonesia’s Past And Present Human Rights Violations
Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s recent acknowledgement that his government regrets past human rights violations is an important step in national healing. However, this will mean
Trial In Indonesian Human Rights Court Brings Hope Of Justice For West Papuans
An Indonesian human rights court has begun a trial to determine whether a former army commander is guilty of crimes against humanity in West Papua.
A Far Way From Paradise: State Violence and Insurgency in West Papua
On April 27th, Union of Catholic Asian News reported that separatists affiliated with the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, O.P.M.) in the Indonesian province
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