West Papua: Land of Mourning, Bloodshed (Peace?) and Humanitarian Intervention

Rev. Benny Giay
Diplomatic Briefing, Hotel Trefa

Jakarta, June 27, 2012

Since May 2012 until June there has been a series of shootings in Jayapura in the context of our struggle to fulfill our  “Papua land of peace” dream. The government has claimed the shooting has been carried out by separatist group. Papuans respond to such claim is as usual: Oh itu lagu lama. The authorities are playing the old song.  One way to respond to that “old song” is looking at the root of the root cause of shootings that ended with the killing of Mako Tabuni on 14 June and followed by the arrest of other members of KNPB in Papua a few days ago. In my view  this development has some to do with (a) first of all how two different actors  (Indonesia dan Papua) that belong two cultures (Malay and Melanesia) view themselves and their past.

West Papua: Land of Mourning, Bloodshed (Peace?) and Humanitarian InterventionIndonesia view that Papua has become part of Indonesia and has been in contact since 8th century with them. Therefore Papuans are brothers. Papua on the other hand believe  that it might be true that Papuans has been dealing with the ancestors of the rest Indonesians for several centuries but that contact occurred in context of domination, slave trade and oppression. The contact between the two parties was one of master – slave relations. Therefore, Papuans see their past relations with Indonesia (Tidore, Ternate and Maluku etc as history of robbery, slavery, destruction of their villages and burning of Papuan community settlements.

Secondly since 1960s when Indonesia took over Papua, Papuans were (and have been viewed until now) as primitives, backward, uncivilized people and therefore Jakarta since that time promoted itself as the guru, the teacher of new civilization to “lift up socio-economic welfare of Papuans”. Jakarta then formulated what an Indonesian scholar call: migrant biased development policy (which in brief is a policy made by central government to guarantee the interest, safety and future of Indonesian migrants in Papua, while ignoring Papuan identity, culture and their future. Papuans has no place in such a development scheme. Papuans are non humans. Second class citizens. This Indonesian neo colonial policy (if we can use that term) was from the beginning up to now has been guarded by security institutions. Papuans who resisted this undemocratic policy has been dealt with by security forces.

Thirdly, as a result Papua has become “site of mourning”, “site of collective trauma”, site oppression and mourning”. Three days of mourning that we had (June 14-16) as we gathered in Post 7 Sentani, after the killing of Mako Tabuni  was not not a new thing. We only repeat what our past generation went through since 1960s. Facing such migrant biased development (or Indon colonial policy) as shown above, we, Papuans since 1960sn are like the Javanese of Central Java 1900s who were treated as second class citizens by the Dutch (as Indonesian history books say today); or Black South Africans of 1940s who suffered under apartheid policy. In fact this “migrant biased development policy” I think is “an Indonesian version of apartheid racial policy” toward Papuans. Theologically speaking Papuans of today and in the past have  been living under modern Pharaoh or modern Goliath supported by international community and multinational companies who had come to Papua and robbed the natural resources and killing off the Papuans.

mako1Fourthly, the killing of Mako Tabuni by Indonesian Police has to be seen in the light of history of  Papuan resistance to Jakarta’s migrant development policy pointed out above. Mako Tabuni and other civilians who voiced their right and grievances have been and are stigmatized as separatist. Mako who is leading civilians group demanding referendum using peaceful means has been seen as a threat to Indonesia political interest. This strategy  to stigmatize was used by Erfi Triasunu, former Military Chief  in March 2011. He issued a confidential document saying that Papuan Christian Church (Kingmi) of which I am the Chairman of its Synod) is a religious arm of the Papuan Liberation organization (OPM). Other Church leaders of Papua in September 1966 were accused by security forces in Papua as an umbrella organization of OPM. Similarly Papuan NGOs who promote human right abuses in the past has been seen in the same light.

The question now is who is behind the shootings that started May. According to Government it is Mako of KNPB and Mako or KNPB is OPM. I see the shootings from the point of view 3 actors,  each of with  their agendas.  First party is Mako or KNPB who represent Papua demanding referendum to deal with new modern Pharaoh. Second actor is a small and insignificant group of international solidarity group with agenda for democracy and promotion Papuan human right. Third actor is Jakarta: who fear the threat of disintegration and panic; not willing to change the approach to Papua; hold on to the sacred doctrine “territorial integrity” with the support of international community”. And that it is OK to use military or Police force to kill or annihilate separatist group to maintain “the territorial integrity”. Looking at the history of civilian’s resistance the shooting since May of this year was carried out by agents of Government to weaken the civilians struggle for referendum using means of non violence. Jakarta’s fear that the international solidarity group would promote the cause of Papuan civilians at the international niveau. Jakarta is now on safer ground. He has shot dead Mako Tabuni whom he accused as OPM agent. But the dream for “Papua land of Peace” remains a dream. Police and military are still searching the members of  KNPB. Military and Police are in control. Papua is still land of mourning, land of trauma and bloodshed. Modern  Pharaoh and Goliath are in control in Papua today.  It is here that we need “third party” as it is in the case of Israelites and Pharaoh (Exodus 3:7-9). Papua need a moratorium”. Now is the time for Papua and Jakarta to formulate “new Indonesia”. But to do this we need a “humanitarian intervention”.

Toch, perpetrators of Human right violations in Papua will never be taken to court. They in fact will promoted. Paulus Waterpauw (deputy police Papua) and Bigman Lumbantobing (Papua Police Chuef) will follow the footsteps of Col. Hartomo, Kopassus commander who ordered the abduction and the killing of the late Theys Hiyo Eluay in November 2001; who was promoted last week as another High ranking militer elites in Jakarta.


Witnesses to Mako Tabuni Shooting

On June 14, 2012 at 09.30 am (West Papua time), Mako Tabuni, Secretary General of West Papua National Committee (KNPB), walked to the Government Housing Complex (Perumnas 3) in Waena in Jayapura. Mako Tabuni stopped by to buy ‘pinang’ (betel nut) from a woman trader near the Waena-Jayapura taxi pool. Mako chatted with a friend named HS, a university student.

Soon after, HS bid farewell to Mako as he headed for his campus. HS said Mako wasn’t carrying a bag. The activist was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and an army jacket he often wore in public rallies (see captioned photo) and daily activities. HS left Mako alone near Perumnas 3. He wasn’t accompanied by his KNPB friends.

Just a little over 2 minutes after he left Mako, HS heard four gun shots from the direction of the housing complex. HS, who was riding his motorbike, turned back to where he left Mako and already found him lying on the road. HS saw four men in plain clothes carrying Mako’s body and placing him into their car. The woman trader whom Mako bought ‘pinang’ from her was seen crying and running away from the site.

Another witness, YM, said Mako was shot by an armed man. The four other men who came together with the shooter had straight hair. YM said they were not Papuans. He said the men came in the same car, an Isuzu Panther with the registration number DS 1591 AE. The men also fired shots to the sky to scare the people in the location. Armed men from two other cars, a Daihatsu Taft Jeep with the registration number DS 447 AJ and a blue Toyota Avanza (or Inova) also joined the shooting. All where plain-clothed and armed. Mako Tabuni’s body was put in the Isuzu Panther van (registration number DS 1591 AE). He was brought to the Bhayangkara Police Hospital and pronounced dead an hour later.

Based on the autopsy conducted by the hospital medical team, Mako was dead due to fatal wounds to the head. The doctors also found bullet wounds in his hips and both thighs. Immediately after the Mako’s body was taken away, Tabuni’s supporters set fire to four cars and 26 motorbikes in Perumnas 3. They set fire to one motorbike in the nearby Waena Expo area also. About 18 shops were ransacked. It took a full hour for the nearby police to arrive and disperse the crowd.


Police claimed Mako Tabuni was allegedly involved in recent Jayapura shootings. KNPB and many other West Papua observers refuted the idea. Foreign journalists still find it difficult to get permission to cover the province. The Foreign Affairs Information and Media Director, P.L.E. Priatna, said foreign journalists are allowed to cover as long as they state what they want to cover in the permit application form.

“Don’t say they want to cover A, but the report is about B,” he told the press.

Furthermore, he said foreign journalists covering West Papua would be surveiled by intteligence officers so they would not exaggerate in their coverage.


West Papua Update: Mako Tabuni’s Funeral

Mako Tabuni, Secretary General of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) was shot dead by the special taskforce of the Papua Police (Reskrim Polda Papua) on June 14, 2012 near the Waena taxi pool in Jayapura. He was buried on Saturday, June 16 in the Sereh Cemetary in Sentani, Jayapura.



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Staff Blog

Videos Reveal Extent of Latest Indonesia Army Rampage In West Papua


“We didn’t burn people’s houses. It’s impossible. We’re soldiers, we don’tdo that.” Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ali Hamdan Bogra.

A series of videos uploaded to the internet reveal the path of destruction left by Indonesian soldiers on June 6, 2012. According to reports, soldiers from Indonesian Army (TNI) Battalion 756 went on a rampage after local villagers killed one soldier and severely injured another. The two soldiers had run over a 3 year-old child that was playing by the roadside, in the
village of Honelama in Wamena.

“In retaliation, two trucks of soldiers from army battalion Yonif 756/Wamena arrived at Honelama village not long after and reportedly opened fire arbitrarily on the village killing one person, Elinus Yoman. According to reliable local sources, soldiers also stabbed around a dozen people with their bayonets. In addition, soldiers reportedly burned down dozens of homes, buildings and vehicles during the attack. Many of the villagers have fled the area and are afraid to return to their homes,” says Amnesty International.

At least 9 people have died as a result of the attack, 19 more sustained serious injuries, and thousands were made homeless.

Adds West Papua Media, “Human rights workers in Wamena have identified a number of victims so far, but they report there are still many victims to be identified, with military and police personnel blockading the hospital to prevent relatives access to those who sustained injuries. This policy is causing great concern from local people that Indonesian security forces are committing further human rights abuses at the hospital in Wamena on survivors of the rampage.”

“According to fresh but separate unconfirmed reports received by West Papua Media, medical staff are being threatened by heavily armed military officers at the hospital, and soldiers and police including Australian-funded Detachment 88 counter-terror officers are directly interfering in the provision of treatment.”

In addition, West Papua Media continues, “over 20 Lani tribespeople have sustained serious injuries from gunshots and beatings during the rampage, though their condition is not yet known at time of publishing.”

More information is being posted as it becomes available,
at Additional updates can be found at