Chief Theys Eluay
Chief Theys Eluay - an assassinated West Papuan leader.


Present situation of the West Papuan people

By Rev Socratez Sofyan Yoman
Chairman of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in West Papua

West Papua, 5 May 2006

TNI/POLRI  in control of West Papua

The TNI/Polri (armed forces and police) are in complete control of the situation in West Papua. Their presence constitutes a great danger to the freedom and survival of the people of West Papua.  Members of the two forces are spread throughout the territory of West Papua, some in uniform and some in civilian clothing. Most of them are from the intelligence who roam the streets as ocek drivers and are to be seen on every corner in
towns all over West Papua.

The presence of TNI/POLRI severely restricts the freedom of movement of Papuans. People feel afraid and insecure which is clearly evident on the faces of Papuans.

Relations between TNI/POLRI and immigrants

The TNI/POLRI are doing everything to protect newcomers (people with straight hair) who have the freedom to go everywhere and work wherever they like, without fear. But these same forces are playing a major role in oppressing and murdering Papuans.

The following are examples:

Case 1: In Jayapura, Keerom and especially in the district of Abe Gunung, it is very difficult for Papuans to go out and tend their gardens or hunt because of the presence of TNI/POLRI in civilian clothes. At the same time, immigrants are free to tend their fields, even including land that belongs to Papuans but which in now in the hands of the immigrants.

Case 2: TNI/POLRI personnel keep a close check on Papuans along the road from Jayapura to Keerom (Arso) and from Arso to Jayapura. Papuans travelling along these roads must have a travel permit from the TNI/POLRI but immigrants are not checked and are free to travel and they enjoy the protection of the TNI/POLRI.

Case 3: Wembi, Senggi, Wambes, Keerom, Arso are supervised by the TNI in order to protect the transmigrants who are in control of Arso, Keerom.  But native Papuans are subjected to checking almost every day and do not have the freedom to tend their gardens or to travel beyond their homes.

Special Autonomy, Law No. 21, 2001

Special Autonomy was a political bargain reached between Papuans and Indonesians to resolve the problem of West Papua comprehensively and with dignity. It was offered as the final solution to the people of West Papua. Special Autonomy was also supported by the international community, which backed it with funds, ideas and proposals. It was said at the time that Special Autonomy would help the West Papuan people to develop.

But according to the experience and evaluation of Papuans, Special Autonomy Law No 21, 2001 has been a total FAILURE because of the actions of the Indonesian government. Special Autonomy has been disrupted by the Indonesian government by means of a range of policies such as:

  • The creation of the Province of Irian Jaya Barat despite its rejection by all Papuans, the DPRP and the MRP. It was forced on the people by the Indonesian government.
  • The dispatch of a very large number of troops, some in uniform and some wearing civvies, who are spread through the land of West Papua.
  • The dispatch of a large number of migrants who arrive every week on six white ships.
    Education:  Special Autonomy has not led to any improvement in the education system; on the contrary, all there has been for West Papuans is destruction and uncertainty.
    Health: Special Autonomy has not provided services to improve the standard of health of the Papuan people. On the contrary, doctors have set up pharmacies everywhere in Papua where they sell medicines at exorbitant
    prices far beyond the purchasing power of the general public.
    The Economy:  Special Autonomy has provided the immigrants with excellent opportunities to take control of the economy. The local people have not been helped to compete with the newcomers in economic activities.

Papuan People's Assembly (MRP)

The MRP is an important component of the Special Autonomy Law, and has the power under Indonesian law to fight for the basic rights and the survival of the native people of Papua.  However, the Indonesians never heed the views of the MRP. A clear example is the MRP Decision No. 04/MRP/2006 and
the MRP Recommendation of 14 February 2006 on the results of its public hearings on the creation of the Province of Irian Jaya Barat  to which there has been no response to this day. The MRP is still waiting for a reply from Jakarta.   According to Vice President Haji Yusuf Kalla, "the MRP is not a super body or any such thing".

TNI/POLRI businesses or illegal mining in Degeuo, Nabire,  West Papua

Members of TNI/POLRI are heavily involved in business ventures in West Papua. One example is the panning of gold in Degeuwo, Nabire, Papua.

Immigrants and the TNI/POLRI in West Papua

Immigrants, the majority of whom are Muslim, are free to come and go and live without fear in West Papua. and the TNI/POLRI  personnel do everything possible to protect them. On the other hand, native Papuans are hunted down, arrested, jailed, tortured, terrorised and intimidated everywhere, at all times and for any reason.

The immigrants are fully in control of the land of Papua, the Papuan economy, education and the political situation in Papua. Native  Papuans are being marginalised and are facing the danger of genocide.

West Papua, a Land of Peace

Since 2002, all church leaders and leaders of all other religions, people in government and the traditional councils, and the entire population have declared West Papua to be a Land of Peace. In particular, the churches and human rights NGOs have campaigned consistently at many levels, local, national and international, to preserve West Papua as a Land of Peace, with
the aim and hope of struggling for basic human rights, human dignity, justice, peace and equality.


The people of West Papua need:

1) International humanitarian intervention;

2) Peaceful dialogue between West Papuans and Indonesia, mediated by the international community.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 8HW, UK.
tel +44 (0)20 8771 2904 fax +44 (0)20 8653 0322


John Wing

John Wing has been involved with human rights issues in Indonesia for twenty years.

A History graduate, in 1991 he traveled to East Timor only months before the Santa Cruz massacre, and in the same year, to West Papua. John became convinced the threats to Papuan survival were serious enough for him to devote much of the following years to research and awareness-raising.

In the mid-1990s John edited the “West Papua Information Kit” for the Australia West Papua Association. A comprehensive collection of threats posed by Indonesian “development”, the kit was based on John’s 1994 MA thesis in Anthropology/Development Studies.

In 2003 John was appointed Co-ordinator of the West Papua Project at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. In 2005 he conducted in-country research into the current human rights, environmental, political and social situation in Papua. His findings became the basis for the report “Genocide in West Papua? The Role of the Indonesian State Apparatus and a Current Needs Assessment of the Papuan People”.

The report, launched in August 2005, was widely reported in the international media. It became a reference point for governments around the world including the Dutch, Canadian, UK and Australian parliaments and the US Congress. The terms “Genocide” and “Papua”, while vigorously denied in Jakarta, were increasingly synonymous.

Footage of John’s Papuan experiences has been widely used by Australian media.

His long-term passion is to deliver alternative sources of electricity, such as solar and micro hydro power, to remote areas of Papua, and hopes one day to provide cheap, simple lighting to homes and refrigeration to clinics.