Fate of Papua’s Governor Enembe – the ‘son of Koteka’ – lies in balance amid allegations

Fate of Papua’s Governor Enembe – the ‘son of Koteka’ – lies in balance amid allegations

By APR editor –  September 24, 2022


Alleged corruption involving Governor Lukas Enembe has dominated both Papuan and Indonesian media outlets and social media groups over the past two weeks.

The Indonesian media is rife with allegations and accusations against the governor who is  suspected of spending of billions in rupiahs.

These media storms are sparked by allegations against him of receiving gratification worth Rp 1 million (NZ$112,000).

Governor Enembe was named a suspect by the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) last week and summoned on Monday, September 19, by Police Mobile Brigade Corps (BRIMOB) headquarters in Kota Raja, Jayapura Papua.

Due to illness, the governor was unable to attend the summons. Only his lawyers and Papuan protesters attended, who then condemned KPK of being unprofessional in handling the case.

Papuans (governor’s supporters) take this case as another attempt by the state to “criminalise” their leader motivated by other political agendas, while Jakarta continues to push the narrative of the case, being a serious crime with legal implications.

According to Dr Roy Rening, a member of governor’s legal team, the governor’s designation as a suspect was prematurely determined. This is due to the lack of two crucial pieces of evidence necessary to establish the legitimacy of the charge within the existing framework of Indonesia’s legal procedural code.

Unaware he was a suspect
Dr Rening also argued that the KPK’s behaviour in executing their warrant turned on a dime. The Governor was unaware that he was a suspect, and he was already under investigation by the KPK when he was summoned to appear.

In his letter, Dr Rening explained that Governor Enembe had never been invited to clarify and/or appear as a witness pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code. The KPK instead declared the Governor a suspect based on the warrant letters, which had also changed dates and intent.

The manner in which the KPK and the state are handling the case involving Papua’s number one man in Indonesia’s settler colonial province has sparked a mass demonstration with the slogan “Save Lukas Enembe” from criminalisation.

The Governor’s case has generated a flurry of news stories with all kinds of new allegations by the nation’s most prominent figures.

Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin, commonly known as Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, accused Governor Enembe of corruption, amounting to billions of rupiahs during a public media conference held at the Coordinating Ministry Office, Jakarta, on Monday.

His allegations have sparked a backlash from the Governor and his lawyers, as well as from the Papuan people.

Governor’s lawyer Dr Rening said Mahfud MD should not be included in the technical part of the investigation, particularly when in relation to those financial figures. Dr Rening said any confidential information was already protected by the constitution and it was inappropriate for Mahfud MD to make such announcement.

He asked which case the minister Mahfud MD was referring to in his allegation because the actual case involving the KPK investigation only related to a gratuity of 1 billion Rp.

‘Massive campaign to undermine Governor Enembe’
Dr Rening asked how Mahfud MD could explain the other charges that were not included in the dispute of this case, adding that “we are still of the opinion, as I have mentioned in my articles, that ‘This is what we call a systematic, structured, and massive campaign to undermine the honour and reputation of Papuan leader Lukas Enembe’.

“Governor Enembe himself has also rejected the allegations involving the spending of billions of rupiah, accusing Mahfud MD of making false allegations against him.”

Reverend Dr Sofyan Yoman, president of the Papuan Baptist Church Alliance, stated on the same day as Mahfud MD’s press conference that it would be remembered as the day the KPK lost its integrity and legitimacy as an independent institution for the protection of the nation’s morale.

He said it would be recorded that 19 September 2022 was the day of the “death” of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

“Therefore, I express my condolences for the passing of the KPK. So, the history of the KPK is over,” reported Tabloid Jubi.

At the press conference, Mahfud MD was accompanied by Alexander Marwata (KPK), Ivan Yustiavandana, director of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK), and other representatives from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), National Police, and the Armed Forces were also present.

By engaging in this collaboration, the KPK lacked an independent voice, and its integrity and legitimacy were shattered by state intervention.

Jakarta’s ‘state of panic’
Reverend Yoman’s “condolence” statement about the KPK was the result of the state intervention in suffocating KPK’s ability to stand independently.

Reverend Yoman added: “Jakarta is in a state of panic right now because gross human rights violations in the land of Papua are already being recognised by international institutions such as the UN, European Union, Pacific Island forums (PIF) and Africa Caribbean Pacific nation states (ACP).

“Governor Lukas Enembe’s case is not the real issue,” he said.

In reality, this was “merely a façade designed by Jakarta” to distract the public from paying attention to the real issue, which was the state’s crimes against West Papuans, reported Papua.tribunnews.com.

Natalius Pigai, a prominent Indigenous Papuan figure in Indonesia and former human rights commissioner, wrote on Twitter: “There is no single law that authorises Mahfud MD to lead a state auxiliary body. The coordinating minister can only lead police and prosecutors as part of the cabinet, he cannot act as Head of State. It was a silly intervention that weakened the KPK, and strengthened accusations of political motivations toward Lukas Enembe.”

Despite this condemnation and rejection from the governor’s camp, Governor Lukas Enembe remains a suspect waiting to be investigated by the KPK. The KPK’s Deputy Chair, Alexander Marwata said KPK examined a number of witnesses before establishing Enembe as a suspect.

“Several witnesses have clarified, and documents have been obtained that give us reason to believe there is enough evidence to establish a suspect” reported Kompas.com.

Papuans protect residence
Meanwhile, the Governor’s private residence in Papua is being protected by Papuans, triggering more security personnel being deployed in a region that is already one of the most highly militarised in the Asia Pacific.

Papua’s people have been shaken by the news of this corruption allegation against their Governor.

According to Paskalis Kosay, Papua is worried about the loss of Lukas Enembe, a unifying figure among the Papuan people.

He added: “Papua’s political situation has become increasingly unhealthy since Mahfud MD’s statement. The internet — particularly social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp — are full of both positive and false information. Also, its contents may be used to slander, humiliate, or discredit the good name, honour, or dignity of a certain person, figure, or group.

“We should be vigilant when paying attention to the different information spread on social media and other mass lines. It is imperative that Papuans filter all news content very carefully. You must then respond wisely, intelligently, and proportionally so as not to be accused of being a member of a group of disseminators of misleading information”.

Meanwhile, as Governor Enembe awaits the outcome of the case against him, he has already missed his medical appointments in Singapore. This could unleash unprecedented protests throughout West Papua if or when his health fails him due to him being blocked by Jakarta from leaving the country.

A failure to protect the Governor while he is caught up in the limbo of the Indonesian legal system, would have catastrophic consequences for Jakarta. Papuans have already warned Jakarta “don’t try [to detain him] during the protests.”

As of today, the Governor’s and his family’s bank accounts remain blocked, a decision made by the state without their knowledge a few months ago, that has led to the current crisis.

Who is Governor Lukas Enembe?
Governor Lukas Enembe is a symbol of pride and an icon for the sons and daughters of the Koteka people of the highlands of Papua. He is often referred to as “Anak Koteka” (son of Koteka).

Koteka as a horim, or penis gourd or sheath, traditionally worn by males in Papua’s Highlands, where Governor Enembe comes from.

When he is called “Anak Koteka” it means that he is a son of cultural groups that wear this traditional attire. Knowing this is critical to understanding how and why this man became such a central figure in West Papua.

Before he became Governor of Papua in 2013, the Koteka people of the Highlands faced many kinds of racial prejudice and discrimination. Wearing the koteka was seen as a symbol of primitiveness, backwardness, and stupidity.

Lukas Enembe turned the symbol of the koteka into hope, pride, courage, leadership, and power when he became governor for two consecutive terms. He broke barriers no one else had crossed, exposed cultural taboos, and used his ancestral wisdom to unite people from every walk of life.

As the Highland’s first Papua Governor (2013 -2023), he upended stereotypes associated with his cultural heritage.

Governor Enembe was born in Timo Ramo Village, Kembu District, Tolikara Regency of Papua’s Highlands on 27 July 1967. His biography A Statesman from Honai, by Sendius Wonda, states that Lukas grew up in a simple family.

He attended elementary school in Mamit (1974-1980) and junior high school in Sentani (1980-1983). He then attended senior high school in Sentani from 1983-86.

Sacred building for sharing wisdom
In Highlands Papua, honai is a traditional hut, but it is more than just a hut; it is a sacred building where ancient teachings and wisdoms are discussed and preserved.

Honai shaped him into the person he is today. In the 1980s, he was one of only a handful of Papuan Highlands village children to study in urbanised coastal regions.

His determination to continue his studies was already noted by his peers. In 1986, he took the selection examination for admission to Indonesia’s State Universities and was accepted as a student at Sam Ratulangi University (Unsrat) Manado Indonesia.

As a fourth-semester student at the FKIP Campus, Enembe majored in political science at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences in Manado. After completing his studies in Manado in 1995, Lukas returned to Papua.

As he waited for acceptance of his Civil Service Candidates (CPNS) he lived in Doyo Sabron, Jayapura Regency with his wife, Yulce Wenda, and his family. The following year, he was accepted as a civil servant (PNS).

He aspired to become a lecturer at Cenderawasih University, Jayapura, where he earned 22 citations for local government lectures. The promise of being a lecturer ran aground during the pre-service announcement, and Enembe was assigned a position as a civil servant at the Merauke Regency Socio-Political Affair’s Office instead.

During 1998-2001, Enembe was sent by a missionary agency to continue his studies for two years at the Cornerstone Christian college in Australia (Dubbo, NSW). Upon returning from Australia in 2001, he participated in the Puncak Jaya regional election, but his dream of becoming a regent was dashed.

‘Papua rising’
From 2001-2006, he served as Deputy Regent of Puncak Jaya alongside Elieser Renmaur. In 2006, Enembe was elected chair of the DPD of the Papua Province Democratic Party. In that year he also attempted to run for Governor of Papua by collaborating with a Muslim couple, Ahmad Arobi Aituarauw.

He lost the vote, however, and Bas Suebu-Alex Hasegem won. Last but not least, he participated in the 2007 Puncak Jaya regional election and was elected Regent of Puncak Jaya along with Henock Ibo.

In 2013, Enembe and Klemen Tinal ran as candidates for Governor of Papua in the 2013 Papuan Gubernatorial Election.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) appointed Lukas Enembe and Klemen Tinal to lead Papua between 2013 and 2018. In 2018, he was re-elected along with Klemen Tinal to serve as Governor of Papua for the period 2018-2023.

“Papua rising, independent, and prosperous” was Lukas’s vision for leading Papua through the landslide victory.

As Governor he gave 80 percent of the special autonomy funds to regional and city areas, and 20 percent to the provinces. In his view, 80 percent of the special autonomy funds are managed by districts or cities which is where most people in Papua live.

Papua has undergone a lot of development during Enembe’s governorship, including the construction of a world-class sports stadium that has been named after him, as well as other major projects like the iconic Youtefa Bridge in Jayapura city.

Papuans ‘need to live’
Many Papuans opposing Jakarta’s activities in West Papua consider him to be a father figure. When asked about the conditions his people face on national television, Governor Enembe responded by saying “Papuans do not need development, they need to live.”

Such bold statements, along with others he made directly challenge Indonesia’s mainstream narrative, since Jakarta and Indonesians at large regard “development” as a panacea for West Papua’s problem.

Jakarta is also suspicious about the hundreds of Papuan students sent abroad under the scholarship scheme he designed using Special Autonomy Funds.

His boldness, style of leadership and deeds indicate that there is a deep longing in his heart for justice and for better treatment of his fellow humans. His accomplishments distinguish him as a pioneer, a dreamer, a fighter, a survivor, and a practical man with deep compassion for others.

It is this spirit that keeps him alive and strong despite the physical and psychological intimidation, threats, as well as clinical sickness he has endured for years.

The rest of his term (2022-2023) is one of the most critical times for him. After more than 20 years as Indonesia’s top public servant, the strong man of the people is facing his greatest challenge as he enters his final year in his career.

How that final chapter of his career ends will be determined by the outcome of this corruption allegations case, which could have significant consequences for Papua and Indonesia as well as for Governor Enembe.

Jakarta must think carefully in how they handle the governor, son of Koteka.

Yamin Kogoya is a West Papuan academic who has a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University and who contributes to Asia Pacific Report. From the Lani tribe in the Papuan Highlands, he is currently living in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Priest, activist back anti-graft purge in Indonesia’s Papua

Papua is known as a breeding ground for corrupt practices that victimize the native people, priest says

 By UCA News reporter Published: September 16, 2022 11:00 AM GMT

Rights activists including a Catholic priest have supported a crackdown against officials accused of corruption in Indonesia’s Christian-majority Papua province while critics termed the purge politically motivated.

Over the past week, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) of Indonesia has arrested three high-ranking government officials including a governor in the easternmost province.

In the latest case, Papua governor Lukas Enembe was detained on Sept. 14. Enembe, who served the post since 2013, is accused of receiving bribes and gratuities in the procurement of goods and services sourced from the Papua province budget.

On Sept. 8, the commission named two district heads – Eltinus Omaleng of Mimika and Ham Pagawak of Central Mamberamo – as suspects in corruption and bribery cases.

“I fully support the commission’s steps, considering that so far Papua has often been mentioned as a breeding ground for corrupt practices, but this is the first time the government has shown a firm stance,” said Father Bernard Baru, chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Augustinian Order in Papua.

Father Baru said that the KPK should not just finish its duties by naming the corrupt officials.

“They certainly don’t move on their own. I suspect that there are parties who conspire with them, from the local level to the central government in Jakarta. I also hope that they can speak openly when they go to trial regarding other parties involved,” he told UCA News.

Emanuel Gobay, a Catholic and chairman of the Papua Legal Aid Institute, said that the three cases do not necessarily describe the overall corruption scenario in Papua.

Therefore, he called for “investigations of corruption cases to be carried out in all regencies and cities in Papua.”

Meanwhile, some residents in Papua alleged the anti-corruption crackdown was a politically charged move, linking it to pro-independence aspirations in the eastern tip of the region.

Local media reported that Enembe’s supporters staged protests in the provincial capital of Jayapura against his arrest, calling it a case of political vendetta.

However, Father Baru said, while the alleged corruption had preliminary evidence, the KPK’s move “should have been supported.”

“These officials are indigenous Papuans and their actions certainly have an impact on their fellow Papuans. It is the Papuan people themselves who are victims of their alleged crimes,” he said.

Activist Gobay said that in order to reduce suspicion from Papuans, the KPK needed to provide a full explanation regarding the reasons for the detention of the suspects.

At a press conference in Jakarta, Alexander Marwata, KPK’s deputy chairman emphasized that they had not yet criminalized Enembe and other officials.

“We carry out law enforcement, of course, based on the adequacy of evidence, through the clarification of witnesses and also documents, so that we believe that a criminal process has taken place,” he said.

He also asked for the support of the Papuan people in the legal process against the suspects in Papua and mentioned that trillions of rupiah from the central government have been channeled into Special Autonomy funds for the welfare of the Papuan people.

“If the corrupt practice continues, we are worried that the government’s efforts to improve the welfare of the Papuan people will not materialize,” he said.

Since the implementation of the special autonomy policy for the provinces of Papua and West Papua in 2002, the government has disbursed funds worth 138.65 trillion rupiah until last year.

However, according to the Integrity Assessment Survey by the KPK last year on government performance, the two provinces in Papua had the lowest index and were categorized as very vulnerable to corruption, which was 64, below the national average of 72.

Papua governor Lukas Enembe is the latest government official accused of corruption in Indonesia’s Christian-majority province. (Photo: Papua Province official website)

The Human Development Index in Papua is also the lowest nationally, where for Papua Province it is 60.62, below the national average of 72.29.

Indonesia was ranked 96th out of a total of 180 countries in the global Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 by anti-graft watchdog Transparency International. —————

Papuan protesters warn Jakarta – ‘don’t criminalise’ Governor Enembe

By APR editor –  September 16, 2022

Papuan supporters of Governor Lukas Enembe protest against efforts by Indonesian authorities to “criminalise” him on spurious grounds. Image: APR

COMMENTARY: By Yamin Kogoya

Papuan protesters from seven customary regions this week stormed the Mako Brimob police headquarters in Kota Raja, Jayapura, accusing the KPK and police of “criminalising” local Governor Lukas Enembe.

The protest on Monday was organised in response to the Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK) Corruption Eradication Commission’s attempt to investigate corruption allegations against Governor Lukas Enembe.

This time, Enembe is suspected of receiving gratification of Rp 1 miliar (NZ$112,000).

These accusations are not the first time that the KPK has attempted to criminalise Lukas Enembe, the Governor of Papua. The KPK has tried this before.



The representative of the Papuan people at the rally stated that KPK failed to follow the correct legal procedures in executing this investigation.

KPK should avoid inflaming the Papuan conflict, as the Papuan people have so far followed Jakarta’s controversial decisions — decisions that are contrary to the wishes of the Papuan people, a representative stated at the rally.

For instance, Jakarta’s insistence on the creation of new provinces from the existing two (Papua and West Papua) has been strongly rejected by most Papuans.

Remained silent
The spokespeople for the protesters warned KPK that they had remained silent because Governor Enembe was able to maintain a calm among the community. However, if the governor continues to be criminalised, Papuans from all seven customary regions will revolt.

The KPK has named Governor Enembe as a suspect in the corruption of his personal funds.

“This is ‘funny’,” protesters said. “One billion rupiahs [NZ$112,000] of his own money used for medical treatment were alleged to be corrupt. This is strange. We will raise that amount, from the streets and give it to KPK.

“Remember that,” speakers said.

Stefanus Roy Renning, the coordinator of Governor Enembe’s Legal Council Team, said the case the governor was accused of (1 billion Rupiah) is actually, the governor’s personal funds sent to his account for medical treatment in May 2020.

Therefore, if you refer to this [KPK’s behaviour] as criminalisation, then yes, it is criminalisation.

This is due to the fact that the suspect’s status was premature and not in line with the criminal code, and that the governor himself has not been questioned as a witness in the alleged case.

Questioned as witness
Renning said that for a suspect to be determined, there must be two pieces of evidence and he or she must be questioned as a witness.

Benyamin Gurik, chair of the Indonesian Youth National Committee (KNPI), expressed apprehension about the allegations, saying it amounted to the criminalisation of Papuan public figures, which may contribute to conflict and division in the region.

“Jakarta should reward him for all of the good things he’s done for the province and country, not criminalise him,” said Gurik.

Otniel Deda, chair of the Tabi Indigenous group, urged the KPK to act more professionally.

He suspects that the KPK’s actions were sponsored by “certain parties” intent on shattering the reputation of the Papuan leader.

The governor himself has his own suspicions as to who is behind the corruption accusations against him.

He suspects KPK and the police force are among the highest institutions in the country being used to serve political games that are being played behind his back.

Purely a political move
According to Dr Sofyan Yoman, president of the Fellowship of West Papuan Baptist Churches (PGBWP), the attempted criminalisation of Governor Enembe is a purely political move geared toward dictating the 2024 election outcome, not a matter of law.

Dr Yoman explained that other parties in Indonesia are uncomfortable and lack confidence in entering the Papua provincial political process in 2024.

There have been those who have seen, observed, and felt that the existence of Lukas Enembe is a threat and an obstacle for other political parties seeking the position of number one in Papua.

To break the stronghold of Governor Enembe, who is also the chair of the Democratic Party of the Papuan province, there is no other way than to use KPK to criminalise him.

In a statement to Dr Yoman on Wednesday, Governor Enembe said:



Account blocked
Dr Yoman met the governor and his wife at Governor Enembe’s Koya residence, where he was informed of the following by Yulce W. Enembe:


The governor himself gave an account of how he used the Rp 1 billion:


“The KPK is just anybody,” the governor stated. “The KPK’s actions were purely political, not legal. KPK has become a medium for PDIP political parties. Considering that the Head of BIN, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the KPK descend from one institution — the police — these kinds of actions are not surprising to me.

“I am being politically criminalised”, said the governor. “Part of a pattern of psychological and physical threats and intimidation I have faced for some time”

“I am not a criminal or a thief,” the governor said.

Singapore health travel
The governor’s overseas travels for medical treatment in Singapore have been halted [barred] by the Directorate General of Immigration based on a prevention request from the KPK.

This appears to be a punitive measure taken by the country’s highest office to further punish the governor, preventing him from receiving regular medical care in Singapore.

Media outlets in Indonesia and Papua have been dominated by stories about the governor’s name linked to the word “corruption”, creating a space for hidden forces to assert their narratives to determine the fate of not only the governor, but West Papua, and Indonesia.

West Papua is a region in which whoever controls the information distributed to the rest of the world, controls the narrative. It is a region where the Indonesian government and the Papuan people have fought for years over the flawed manner in which West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in the 1960s.

When news of a criminalised Papuan public figure such as Governor Enembe comes to the surface, it is often conveniently used as a means of demoralising popular Papuan leaders who are trusted and loved by their people.

It has been proven again and again over the past decade that Jakarta would have to deal with the revolt of hundreds of thousands of Papuans if they sought to disturb or displace Governor Enembe.

Ultimately, these kinds of nuanced incidents are often created and used to distract Papuans from focusing on the real issue. The issue of Papuan sovereignty is what matters most — the state of Papua, as Jakarta is forcing Papuans to surrender to Indonesian powers that seek to transform Papua and West Papua into Indonesia’s dream.

Papuan dream turned nightmare
Tragically, the Indonesian dream for West Papua have turned into nightmares for the people of Papua, recently claiming the lives of four Indigenous Papuans from the Mimika region, whose bodies were mutilated by Indonesian soldiers.

In recent weeks, this tragic story has been featured in international headlines, something that Jakarta wishes to keep out of the global spotlight.

The UN acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif raised West Papua in her statement during the 51st session of the Human Rights Council on Monday — the day that Governor Enembe was summoned to police in Kota Raja.

Despite Jakarta’s attempts to spin news about West Papua as domestic Indonesian sovereignty issues, the West Papua story will persist as an unresolved international issue.

Governor Enembe (known as Chief Nataka) his family, and many Papuan figures like them have fallen victim to this protracted war between two sovereign states — Papua and Indonesia.

Some of the prominent figures in the past were not only caught in Jakarta’s traps but lost their lives too. In the period between 2020 and 2021, 16 Papuan leaders who served the Indonesian government are estimated to have died, ranging in their 40s through to their 60s.

Papuans have lost the following leaders in 2021 alone:

Klemen Tinal, Vice-Governor of Papua province under Governor Enembe, who died on May 21.

Pieter Kalakmabin, Vice-Regent of the Star Mountain regency, died on October 28.

Abock Busup, Regent of Yahukimo regency (age 44), was found dead in his hotel room in Jakarta on October 3.

Demianus Ijie, a member of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, died on July 23.

Alex Hesegem, who served as Vice-Governor of Papua from 2006-2011, died on June 20.

Demas P. Mandacan, a 45-year-old Regent from the Manokwari regency, died on April 20.

The Timika regency (home of the famous Freeport mine) lost a member of local Parliament Robby Omaleng, on April 22.

In 2020, Papuans lost the following prominent figures: Herman Hasaribab; Letnan Jendral,a high-ranking Indigenous Papuan serving in the Indonesian Armed Forces, who died on December 14; Arkelaus Asso, a member of Parliament from Papua, died on October 15; another young Regent from Boven Digoel regency, Benediktus Tambonop (age 44), died on January 13; Habel Melkias Suwae, who served twice as Regent of Jayapura, the capital of Papua, died on September 3; Paskalis Kocu, Regent of Maybrat, died on August 25; on February 10, Sendius Wonda, the head of the Biro of the secretary of the Papua provincial government, died; on September 9, Demas Tokoro, a member of the Papuan People’s Assembly for the protection of Papuan customary rights, died; and on November 15, Yairus Gwijangge, the brave and courageous Regent of the Nduga regency (the area where most locals were displaced by the ongoing war between the West National Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces), died in Jakarta.

These Indigenous Papuan leaders’ deaths cannot be determined, due to the fact that the institutions responsible for investigating these tragic deaths, such as the legal and justice systems and the police forces, are either perpetrators or accomplices in these tragedies themselves.

Dwindling survival for Papuans
This does not mean Jakarta is to blame for every single death, but its rule provides an overarching framework where the chances of Papuans surviving are dwindling.

This is a modern-day settler colonial project being undertaken under the watchful eye of international community and institutions like the UN. This type of colonisation is considered the worst of all types by scholars.

It is only their grieving families and the unknown forces behind their deaths that know what really happened to them.

The region for the past 60 years has been a crime scene, yet hardly any of these crimes have been investigated and/or prosecuted.

Given the threats, intimidation, and illness Governor Enembe has endured, it is indeed a miracle he has survived.

A big part of that miracle can be attributed to his people, the Papuans who put their lives on the line to protect him whenever Jakarta has tried to harass him.

This week, KPK tried to criminalise the governor and Papuans warned Jakarta – “don’t you try it”.Yamin Kogoya is a West Papuan academic who has a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University and who contributes to Asia Pacific Report. From the Lani tribe in the Papuan

Security approach in Papua should be reevaluated in light of latest murders: Observer

Kompas.com – September 2, 2022FacebookTwitterShare



Mutilated body parts being removed from Pigapu Village River – Undated (OposisiCerdas)


Aryo Putranto Saptohutomo, Jakarta – Military observer Al Araf believes that the case of the Army personnel who were involved in the mutilation and murder of four civilians in Mimika should be used as a consideration for the government to reevaluate the military approach in resolving the conflict in Papua.

“It is important for the government to reevaluate the security policies and military operations in Papua as an approach to settle the conflict”, said Araf when contacted by Kompas.com on Thursday September 1.

The chairperson of the Centra Initiative management board and senior investigator with Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) said that the government must focus on preparing other solutions to settle the conflict in Papua other then deploying military force.

He believes that the military approach which has been employed for years and years has still never resolved the roots of the problem.

“The government must focus on developing a new way to settle the Papua conflict by peaceful means and through peaceful dialogue”, said Araf.

Araf believes that the most objective mechanism to try the murder and mutilation case is through a public trial. This however cannot be applied because trying military personnel and civilians has to be done separately.

“Although there is the obstacle of active military personnel being subject to a military trial, this does not mean that they cannot be tried in a public trial”, said Araf.

According to National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), there have been 1,182 incidents of violence in Papua between 2020 and 2021.

Komnas HAM has stated that the parties committing the violence in Papua over this period were the TNI (Indonesian military) and the Polri (Indonesian police) along with the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) or armed criminal groups (KKB).

Out of this total, as many as 41.31 percent of cases were related to the work of the police.

According to Komnas HAM Commissioner Choirul Anam, the forms of violence against civilians in Papua include armed contacts, shootings, assault with sharp weapons, fires and damage to goods and property.

In addition to this, the acts of violence committed by the TNI/Polri and the OPM/KKB have also claimed lives. According to Anam’s records, 24 people died out of 47 people who were victims of violence in Papua in 2020-2021.

There is also concern that the recent case of the murder and mutilation of civilians by members of the Army will trigger new tensions between the security forces and local populations.

Speaking separately, Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) public defender Teo Reffelsen believes that the actions of those who committed the mutilations were general crimes so they must be prosecuted in a public trial as regulated under Article 65 Paragraph (2) of Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI.

“We emphasise that all of them must be prosecuted and tried through a judicial process which is fair, free and unbias, so that the entire process can be monitored by the public and to ensure the fulfillment of the victims’ and the families’ rights along with preventing impunity from happening”, said Reffelsen during a press conference on Wednesday August 31.

Aside from urging that the six TNI personnel to be tried in a public court, the LBH Jakarta is also urged that the involvement of independent institutions such the Komnas HAM.

“Or if necessary the government could form a joint fact finding team (TGPF) which is directly responsible to the president to ensure that the entire process is transparent and accountable”, said Reffelsen.

The Komnas HAM has also conveyed a view on the desire for openness in handling the case. Choirul Anam has praised the TNI for moving quickly to deal with the case, declaring several people as suspects and announcing this to the public.

To reinforce this however, Anam hopes that the legal process against the TNI personnel who are suspects in the mutilation case will be open and transparent.

“A good intent must be shown by our TNI friends, in what way? A legal process (which is) transparent, accountable”, Anam told Kompas.com on Tuesday August 30.

According to TNI commander General Andika Perkasa, so far the number of Army personnel who were allegedly involved in the robbery, murder and mutilation of the victims has grown to eight people.

Two other rogue members from the Army are suspected of accepting 250 million rupiah in stolen money belonging to the victims.

“From the results of the investigation which is being conducted, there are two more people who we have questioned. These two also enjoyed the proceeds of the crime”, said Perkasa on Wednesday evening.

According to Perkasa, the six TNI members who have now been declared as suspects in the case are two infantry officers, namely Infantry Major HF Infantry Captain DK, along with Master Private PR and Privates First-Class RAS, RPC and R.

The four civilian suspects meanwhile are APL alias J, DU, R and RMH, who are being dealt with by the police.

“Meanwhile their motive was money”, said Army military police central commander (Danpuspomad) Lieutenant General Chandra W Sukotjo when contacted by Kompas.com on Tuesday evening.

While the case is being developed, the six Army personnel will be detained temporarily for 20 days from August 29 to September 17. The six are being held at the Mimika XVII/C Military Police Sub-Detachment detention centre.

Sukotjo said that the six are being temporarily detained in order to facilitate questioning and the investigation, as well as to resolve the case sooner. “We are endeavoring to fully resolve this case as quickly as possible”, asserted the three-star general.

The suspects are believed to have intended to rob the victims by luring the four with the enticement of selling AK-47 assault rifles. The four victims brought money amounting to 250 million rupiah in accordance with the value of the weapons to be sold.

The victims and the perpetrators then met in New Mimika district on August 22 at around 9.50 pm local time. The perpetrators however, killed them instead of making the exchange.

The bodies of three of the victims have been identified as Arnold Lokbere, Irian Nirigi and Leman Nirigi. The forth body meanwhile, has not yet been identified. One of the victims is said to be a village head in Nduga district and a KKB sympathiser.

Following the murders, the perpetrators loaded the bodies onto the victims’ truck and took them to the Pigapu Village River in Iwaka district for disposal.

Prior to being disposed of in the river, all the bodies were mutilated and placed in sacks. The perpetrators then headed to the road leading into Galian C Kali Iwaka to burn the Toyota Calya car rented by the victims.

The next day, the perpetrators again gathered at a warehouse owned by APL and divided up the 250 million rupiah.

On the same day, police found the victims’ burnt out vehicle and on Friday August 26 local community members and police found one of the victims known by the initials AL.

One day later, on Saturday August 27, local community members found another body in the Pigapu Village River. Police then found yet another mutilated body in the river on Monday August 29.

It is now reported that all the bodies of the victims have been found and a forensic team has been brought in from Jayapura to carry out the autopsies.

— By Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Singgih Wiryono, Dian Erika Nugraheny and Jayapura contributor Dhias Suwandi]

[Translated by James Balowski. The last section of the article on the chronology of events was abridged slightly due to repetition. The original title of the article was “Kasus Mutilasi di Tengah Upaya Mencari Solusi Damai Konflik Papua”.]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/09/02/06300001/kasus-mutilasi-di-tengah-upaya-mencari-solusi-damai-konflik-papua

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Interim President: brutal killing of four West Papuans is a reminder of the reality of Indonesian colonialism 

August 30, 2022 in Statement 

It is heartbreaking to hear that four indigenous Papuan civilians have been killed and mutilated by Indonesian special forces. The names of the dead are Arnold Lokmbere, Irian Nirigi, Lemanion Nirigi, and Atis Tini. 

This brutal killing must be seen for what it is: state sponsored terrorism. My people have always rejected Jakarta’s impositions, from the ‘Act of No Choice’ in 1969 to the so-called ‘Special Autonomy’ that rules over us today. Indonesiaknows West Papuans will never accept their colonial rule. Instead, they must enforce it at the barrel of a gun.

These killings, which happened in Timika regency, in West Papua’s highlands, expose the racism at the heart of Indonesian rule. After shooting the four men, soldiers cut off their heads and legs, stuffed them in sacks, and dumped them in a village river. How can people be seen as human if they are treated in this way? Indonesia views us as primitive, as ‘monkeys’. They have always wanted to get us ‘down from the trees’.

This is not the first time our rivers have been used as our tombs. In 2020, Pastor Yeremia, Zanambani, a beloved religious leader in the Intan Jaya regency, was tortured and killed by the Indonesian military. Following this, soldiers killed two of Pastor Zanambani’s family members, burning their bodies and throwing the ashes into a river to hide the evidence. Since 2019, we have seen more and more examples of Indonesia’s systematic brutality in West Papua. We have seen Papuan students murdered by Indonesian death squads, babies shot and killed, civilians in Nduga executed in military-style operations. The history of Indonesian rule in West Papua is written in the blood of my people.

Though Indonesian police has arrested six special forces operatives responsible for this crime, we know from the death of Theys Eluay that soldiers charged with extrajudicial killing regularly receive light sentences – and are often welcomed as heroes by their military superiors. In Indonesia, peacefully raising the Morning Star flag is a worse crime than murdering indigenous West Papuans in cold blood. 

Even if the individuals responsible for these killings are properly punished, the murder of West Papuans will not end until Indonesia’s occupation does. Indonesia must finally stop this bloodshed by withdrawing their troops from West Papua. Stop bombing villages, stop burning and occupying churches and hospitals, stop firing on us for demanding self-determination. Stop your illegal war in West Papua. Since their occupation began, 500,000 of my people have been killed. When will the world say ‘enough’?

As the Interim President of the ULMWP Provisional Government I issue the following peaceful demands, in order for justice to be done for these four men and their families:

  • Indonesia must release all political prisoners, including the eight students who have been held since December 2021 for peacefully demonstrating on our national day. 
  • Indonesia must allow journalists to operate in West Papua.
  • Indonesia must stop the delaying tactics and honour their promise to allow the UN High Commissioner to visit West Papua. Indonesia has both a moral obligation and an obligation as a UN member state to allow the High Commissioner to investigate their crimes against my people. This is not just my demand: it is the demand of over 80 states, including the members of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, and the EU Commission. 
  • Finally, Indonesia must allow us to fulfil our right to self-determination and grant West Papua an internationally-monitored Independence Referendum. This is the only true path to a peaceful resolution.

Jokowi orders military to help investigate soldiers suspected of killing 4 Papuans

Atrocities in Papua a result of phobia and stigma against Papuans: Council of Churches  

Phobia And Stigma Against Papuans – News Desk 

31 August 2022

Jayapura, Jubi – The Papua Council of Churches says the atrocities and violence that continue to occur in Papua, including the recent murder and mutilation of four Nduga residents in Mimika Regency, are caused by the stigma against Papuans that has long grown among Indonesian security forces.

Phobia of Papuans had been fostered in the minds of security forces and most Indonesians because political leaders had oftentimes made racist remarks against Papuans, said the Council of Churches in a press conference in Jayapura Regency’s capital of Sentani on Tuesday, August 20, 2022.

The council cited former president and Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDIP) leader Megawati Soekarnoputri’s racist comment at PDIP’s national working meeting on June 21, as well as retired general Hendropriyono’s statement to move two million indigenous Papuans to Manado, North Sulawesi.

Rev. Benny Giay, the moderator of the Papuan Council of Churches, said that public statements such as those made by Megawati and Hendropriyono revealed the fantasy and psychology of the majority of Indonesian people about Papua, wherein Papuans were often associated with the words monkey, koteka (traditional sheath), lazy, backward, and terrorist.

“Those statements are understood by Papuans as a desire to exterminate the black people of Papua from their own country,” he said.

On the ground, Papuan phobia gave birth to violence and cruelty of security forces against indigenous Papuans. “All Papuans are the same unworthy human beings in their eyes, be it pastors, health workers, teachers, regents, governors, the Papuan People’s Assembly, or academicians. Most recently, they mutilated four civilians from Nduga Regency in Mimika,” Giay said.

He said that stigma had made indigenous Papuans suffer from human rights violations, marginalization, discrimination, racism, murder, impoverishment, and various other violence. Papuan phobia and stigma have also led the government to make discriminative policies that do not solve the Papuan problem.

“In 2019, when Papuans protested against racist speech in Surabaya on August 16, the government responded by deploying more troops and it’s still going until now. In April 2021, armed groups were labelled terrorists. On July 15, 2021, the House passed Law No. 2 of 2021 on the Second Amendment to Papua Special Autonomy Law No. 21/2001 without involving Indigenous Papuans in the deliberation,” he said.

Papua Council of Churches member and president of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia (GIDI) Rev. Dorman Wandikmbo said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visit to Tanah Papua had no positive impact on indigenous Papuans. Jokowi came to Papua with promises but did not fulfil them.

“For example, the Bloody Paniai case in 2014 has been delayed for years. The Attorney General’s Office recently named only one suspect in the alleged gross human rights violations, a retired army who had nothing to do with the Bloody Paniai shooting incident. The real perpetrators were not brought to justice by the State,” Wandikmbo said.

Wandikmbo also criticized the Jokowi regime for forcing the division of Papua Province to form three New Autonomous Regions (DOB). “With the DOB, customary land will be a target of investment, and it will certainly deprive the indigenous peoples of their lands,” he said.

Further, Wandikmbo added the murder and mutilation of four Papuans that occurred in Settlement Unit 1, Mimika Baru District, Mimika Regency on August 22 was a state crime.

“The murder and mutilation of four Nduga residents in Timika and various other human rights violations only add to the wounds of indigenous Papuans. Government promises are nothing but lies,” he said. (*)

Writer: News DeskEditor: News Desk



Jokowi orders military to help investigate soldiers suspected of killing 4 Papuans

Victor Mambor and Pizaro Gozali Idrus 


 Jayapura, Indonesia, and Jakarta

Indonesia’s president said Wednesday that police must thoroughly investigate six soldiers who were arrested as suspects in the grisly killing of four civilians in Papua last week, but residents of the troubled region cast doubt that justice would be served.

During a working visit to Papua, Indonesian leader Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he had ordered the armed forces chief to help local police with the legal part of the case unfolding in the country’s far eastern region, where alleged abuses by government forces and armed Papuan separatist rebels are widespread.

“Once again, the legal process must be carried out so that the public’s trust in the Armed Forces does not fade. I think the most important thing is to investigate thoroughly and then proceed to the legal process,” Jokowi told local journalists.

Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said officers arrested six soldiers and three civilians who allegedly killed and mutilated the victims in an attack in Mimika regency, Papua province, on Aug. 22.

The four victims were beheaded and their legs were cut off before their bodies were placed in sacks and tossed into a river, according to authorities, who publicized the arrests on Aug. 29.

Despite the president’s statement, Papuan activists expressed doubts that the military would carry out his order.

“This was proven by the premeditated murder and mutilation of four indigenous Papuan civilians in Timika,” the Rev. Dorman Wandikbo told BenarNews.

Dorman, president of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia, criticized Jokowi for visiting Papua amid continued violence against civilians by security forces. He said such violence had degraded the dignity of indigenous Papuans.

Previously, Makilon Tabuni, 12, died on Feb. 22 after allegedly being tortured by soldiers who had accused him and his friends of stealing a firearm in Sinak, a district of Puncak regency in Papua province. The case remains unsolved.

“There is no clarity as of today. The TNI has not admitted to this day,” a representative from Makilon’s family told BenarNews on condition of anonymity because of fear of potential reprisals.

The family said the military had only paid medical expenses.

Benny Giay, a member of the Papua Church Council, criticized statements by government officials who have degraded Papuans.

He cited a statement made by Megawati Soekarnoputri, chairwoman of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP). She had referred to Papuans as black and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs John Wempi Wetipo, who is from Papua as “coffee milk” – derogatory terms referring to people with different skin tones.

Benny also referred to a statement by the former chief of the State Intelligence Agency, Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, who proposed moving 2 million Papuans to Manado and sending Manado residents to Papua to separate them from their people in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region.

“Public statements like those made by Megawati and Hendropriyono showed the fantasy and psychology of the majority of Indonesians about Papuans, which are often associated with monkeys, armpits, lazy and terrorists,” Benny told BenarNews on Wednesday. 

“Those statements were understood by Papuans as a desire to eliminate black Papuans from their own country,” he said.


Meanwhile, Papuan police said they had identified 10 suspects in this most recent mutilation case, adding that six soldiers and three civilians were in custody while the fourth civilian is considered a wanted fugitive. The soldiers were identified as two officers – a major and a captain – and four privates.

None of the suspects’ names were released.

The victims allegedly paid to purchase firearms, but were killed instead.

“The victims paid 250 million rupiah (U.S. $16,835), and the money was divided among the perpetrators,” said Kamal, the Papua police spokesman.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Army spokesman Tatang Subarna said a military team had interrogated the six soldiers who were ordered detained from Aug. 29 to Sept. 17 at the Mimika Regional Army Military Police Command.

“The detention has been carried out for examination and investigation purposes,” said Tatang in a written statement received by BenarNews.

Public trust concerns

Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia, urged authorities to investigate the case thoroughly so it does not go unsolved like similar killings involving security forces.

“The problem is not limited to how we maintain public trust in the Armed Forces, but how we should protect human lives and ensure that their deaths due to crime do not end without clarity,” Usman told BenarNews on Wednesday.

From February 2018 to July 2022, there were at least 61 cases of alleged unlawful killings of 99 people involving security forces, based on Amnesty’s records.

“Extrajudicial killings by officers are violations of the right to life, a fundamental right that is clearly protected by international human rights law and the Indonesian constitution,” Usman said.

Papua, on the western side of New Guinea island, has been the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency since the mainly Melanesian region was incorporated into Indonesia in a United Nations-administered ballot in the late 1960s.

In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded Papua – like Indonesia, a former Dutch colony – and annexed the region.

Only about 1,000 people voted in the U.N.-sponsored referendum in 1969 that locals and activists said was a sham, but the United Nations accepted the result, essentially endorsing Jakarta’s rule.

Nazarudin Latif contributed to this report from Jakarta.



Catholics want fair trial against brutal Indonesian soldiers

The six soldiers allegedly killed four Papuans, mutilated their bodies and dumped them in a river

Church officials in Indonesia’s Christian-majority Papua province have called for fail trial against six soldiers arrested for allegedly killing and mutilating four people.

Faizal Ramadhani, director of Criminal Investigation of the Papua Police said the soldiers pretended to sell weapons to lure the victims, who were allegedly affiliated with the pro-independence movement.

The soldiers then killed them and mutilated their bodies, he said on Aug. 30. The dismembered bodies of the victims were put in sacks and dumped into a river outside the city of Timika on Aug. 22, the day the crime was allegedly committed.

The remains of a fourth victim were found on August 30 after the other three were found a few days earlier.

The Papuan police have also named four civilians as suspects, who in the investigation process stated that the soldiers were directly involved in the killing.

Yuliana Langowuyo, director of the Franciscans’ Secretariat for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Papua, condemned the brutalities saying that “the perpetrators must be punished severely for a deterrent effect.”

“The legal process must also be open so that the victim’s family and the public can follow it. Without public scrutiny, the perpetrators could go free, or the sentences would be light and make incidents like this considered normal and could happen again and again,” she told UCA News on August 31.

She stated that what is also important in this case is related to “the arms trade which seems normal in Papua.”

“The weapons sold by the military in Papua don’t seem to be taken seriously. In fact, civilian casualties due to armed violence continue to increase,” she said.

“Therefore, the seriousness of the government is not only punishing the perpetrators to the fullest but also disciplining members of the military so that weapons are not freely traded,” she added.

Father Bernard Baru, chairman of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission of the Augustinian Order in Papua, warned that the case should be handled as a heinous crime, and must not be linked with politics, whether or not the victims were involved with the pro-independence movement.

“If it is related to politics, then the law will be difficult to find a way to achieve truth and justice. What must be dealt with are military crimes against them,” he told UCA News.

Pastor Benny Giay, the moderator of Papuan Church Council, an organization of Protestant churches, alleged that this violence has triggered fear and stigmatizing impacts on Papua.

“This gives birth to a derivative in the form of violence and cruelty by the security forces who are indiscriminately against indigenous Papuans,” he said.

Teguh Muji Angkasa, a senior military officer in Papua, told reporters that the army is coordinating with the police on the investigation, and they are “committed to upholding the rule of law.”

“We will impose strict sanctions if the soldiers are proven to be involved (in the crime),” Angkasa said.

Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the separatist group, the National Liberation Army for West Papua, demanded the Indonesian government execute the perpetrators.

“This is a crime against humanity by the Indonesian government through its security forces,” Sambom said in a statement and threatened to carry out a “retaliatory operation” if their demands were ignored.

Indonesia maintains a large military presence in the resource-rich but underdeveloped easternmost region of Papua, where conflict with pro-independence separatist rebels has claimed thousands of lives.

A former Dutch colony, Papua declared independence in 1961, but Indonesia annexed the territory soon. An independence referendum that followed was widely manipulated in favor of Indonesia.



Seven Morning Star raisers sentenced to 10 months in prison for treason  

Alleged Treason Trial – News Desk 31 August 2022

The trial for reading the verdict of the 7 Morning Star casters at the Jayapura District Court, Monday (29/8/2022). – Jubi/Theo Kelen


Jayapura, Jubi – The Jayapura District Court on Monday, August 29, 2022, declared the seven people who raised the Morning Star flag at Cenderawasih Sports Center guilty of treason. They were each sentenced to 10 months in prison, and required to pay Rp 5,000 in compensation for state losses.

The seven convicts are Melvin Yobe (29), Melvin Fernando Waine (25), Devio Tekege (23), Yosep Ernesto Matuan (19), Maksimus Simon Petrus You (18), Lukas Kitok Uropmabin (21) and Ambrosius Fransiskus Elopere (21).

Although Melvin Yobe and his friends raised the Morning Star flag peacefully and did not carry weapons, they were convicted of treason nonetheless.

The trial was led by chief judge RF Tampubolon, with members Mathius and Wempy W Duka. The judges stated that the defendant’s actions of raising the Morning Star flag and marching to the Papuan Legislative Council while shouting “Free Papua” and “We are not Red and White, we are the Morning Star” have fulfilled the elements of treason, or violating Article 106 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code jo. Article 55 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code.

Moreover, the act of unfurling banners with the sentence “Self Determination For West Papua, Stop West Papua Militarism” and “Indonesia Immediately Open Access for the UN Human Rights Commission Investigation Team to West Papua” was also considered to fulfil the elements of treason.

“The defendants already have the intention of separating Papua and West Papua from the territory of Indonesia. The defendants have committed the beginning of treason as stipulated in Article 87 of the Criminal Code,” Tampubolon said, reading out the verdict.

The verdict also stated that raising the Morning Star flag, marching with the Morning Star flag, chanting “Free Papua” and “We are not Red and White, we are the Morning Star” were not part of free speech.

The call for the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR) to resolve the Papuan problem, the Court said, did not have to involve raising the Morning Star flag and marching while shouting “Free Papua” and  “We are not Red and White, we are the Morning Star”.

“The judges are of the opinion that a team from the Papuan People’s Assembly, the Papuan Legislative Council, traditional leaders, student leaders, and women leaders are legit to urge the central government to immediately form a KKR,” said Tampubolon.

After the trial, the defendant’s lawyer Emanuel Gobay of the Papua Law Enforcement and Human Rights Coalition said he rejected the Court’s verdict that Melvin Yobe and his friends were proven guilty of treason. “We firmly reject this,” Gobay told Jubi.

Gobay argued that during the trial, no expert witnesses were presented to explain their perspectives on the charges. According to Gobay, the conclusions drawn by the panel of judges seemed subjective because there was no information from expert witnesses.

“We question the basis on which the panel of judges concluded the treason. It is as if the panel of judges acted as experts, interpreting and concluding themselves without relying on expert testimony,” he said.

Gobay was adamant that Melvin Yobe and his friends’ action was to commemorate a historic birthday for Papuans, and a call to the reconstruction of Papua’s history by establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as mandated by Papua Special Autonomy Law. He was sure their actions were part of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the 1945 Constitution.

“The testimony of the witnesses has shown that the defendants were exercising freedom of expression. And the witnesses said that the actions did not necessarily free Papua from Indonesia. But the panel of judges did not consider this,” he said.

Furthermore, Gobay objected that the panel of judges used consideration of previous decisions on the treason case of raising the flag of the South Maluku Republic (RMS) in Ambon. According to Gobay, the Ambon and Papua cases are different because Papua has the Papua Special Autonomy Law.

“Again, it only proves that the judges were biased and trying to find reasons to justify the treason article. Therefore, we reject the verdict against Melvin Yobe and his friends,” he said.

Gobay considered that the verdict did not fulfil the sense of justice. However, Gobay left the decision to appeal or accept the verdict to Melvin Yobe and his friends. “We will coordinate with the defendants. They have the right to decide whether to appeal or not. We have seven days to state our position,” said Gobay. (*)

Papuan governor supports advocacy group’s call for NZ scholarship

By Laurens Ikinia in Auckland

Governor Lukas Enembe of Indonesia’s Melanesian province of Papua has expressed support for a call from the Papuan Student Association Oceania (PSAO) for a New Zealand-Papuan scholarship.

The statement has been made after a relentless campaign by the Papuan advocacy group, which is made up of the PSAO and other NGOs in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The group has been advocating in response to the loss of Papuan students’ scholarships since January.

Governor Enembe expressed his appreciation to the New Zealand government for the opportunity given to Papuan students to pursue their education at New Zealand education providers after Indonesian scholarships were curtailed for about 40 students.

He also thanked the guardian parents in New Zealand who generously hosted the students in their homes, churches, and communities.

The Papuan students are sent to study in New Zealand at different levels — from high school to tertiary level studies. The students are spread across the country.

The warm message expressed by Governor Enembe through his spokesperson Rifai Darus is a follow-up to a recent official visit made by the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta to the Papuan provincial government in Jayapura.

The delegation was led by the embassy’s Second Secretary (political affairs) Patrick Fitzgibbon.

NZ, Papuan cooperation
Antara news agency reports that the visit was to discuss cooperation between New Zealand and the Papuan government, including education.

They also talked about potential cooperation in the future.

The governor, through spokesperson Darus, said he had expressed his gratitude to the New Zealand government.

“Governor Enembe positively welcomes an increase in the New Zealand Government Scholarship,” said Darus.

Governor Lukas Enembe
Governor Lukas Enembe … good news for Papuan students. Image: West Papua Today

Governor Enembe hopes that the offer from the New Zealand government would help about two dozen existing students who are currently still studying in New Zealand.

The governor said that the New Zealand scholarship would also help the Papuan government in addressing the funding cut issue.

“With the intention and plan of the New Zealand government to also assist in the granting of scholarships to Papuan students, it becomes good news for Papuan students. Now they can continue their education and pursue their dreams,” Enembe said through spokersperson Darus.

Meeting the ambassador
Darus said Governor Lukas was due to meet the New Zealand Ambassador to Indonesia in Jakarta soon. The meeting would discuss education and scholarships for Papuan students in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Governor Enembe offered a message to all Papuan students to focus on their studies.

He also said he was proud of the students who were studying hard, and studying in a foreign country was not easy.

“The governor also expressed his pride in all Papuan students scattered in many countries, and hopes that later on all the knowledge and skills obtained can be applied to realising the vision of Papua Rising, independent and prosperous with justice,” said Darus.

In May, out of the affected students whose scholarships had been terminated, the Human Resource Department of Papua Province (HRD) said there were 59 students currently studying in New Zealand, ranging from vocational studies to bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees.

The 59 students are still sponsored by the Papuan provincial government.

On 17 December 2021, the Papuan HRD issued a termination letter of scholarship for 40 students in Aotearoa New Zealand. The order to pack up and return home was given without any initial notification.

The government claimed that this action was taken due to poor academic performance.


Underlying reason
However, the PSAO has demonstrated that the claim had no foundation. A source from the HRD of Papua province said the underling reason for the termination of the scholarship was the revocation by the central Jakarta government of the governor’s authority to manage the education funds.

Asia Pacific Report says that out of 40 affected students, 12 students had returned to Indonesia and Papua for various reasons. The remaining 28 students are still in New Zealand and have been receiving support from New Zealanders and groups across the country.

Stuff reports that 8 of 28 affected students are now working for V-Pro Construction in Manawatū. The fate of the remaining affected students has been taken up by the students’ association.

The PSAO, the Oceania branch of the International Alliance of Papuan Students Associations Overseas, expressed thanks to every university, NGO, church and stakeholders who have extended support.

The PSAO also thanked the New Zealand government, particularly Immigration New Zealand, for granting visas to affected students.

Laurens Ikinia is communications spokesperson of the Papuan Students Association Oceania (PSAO).

Some of the Papuan students in Aotearoa New Zealand pictured with Papua provincial Governor Lukas Enembe
Some West Papuan students in Aotearoa New Zealand pictured with Papua Provincial Governor Lukas Enembe (rear centre in purple shirt) during his visit in 2019. Image: APR

Carving up Indonesia’s Papua province

Widodo says move from two to five provinces is to aid development, skeptics see blow at indigenous people’s power


The five administrative divisions of Indonesian Papua. Central Papua is aqua. Highland Papua is blue. South Papua is forest green. Papua province (what’s left of the giant province from which those three were separated) is lavender. West Papua, unchanged territorially, is pea green. Map: Wikipedia

The Indonesian Government’s decision to carve up the sprawling province of Papua into four has been widely seen by its detractors as a strategic move to divide and conquer the rebellious indigenous population living mostly along the central mountain chain.

But the leading proponent of the move, President Joko Widodo, who has probably paid more attention to Papua than any previous leader, has always insisted it is aimed at speeding up development, delivering better public services to a vast region where poverty is commonplace.

Despite a last-minute intervention by the Papuan People’s Council (MRP), which threatened widespread demonstrations, the three new provinces – South Papua, Central Papua and Highland Papua – were finally declared on June 30.

MRP chairman Timotius Murib claimed the move was made without proper consultation and would bring more non-indigenous Papuans into local government posts, already a festering sore point among highland community leaders.

The three new provinces have 20 districts in total – four of them in South Papua, where Merauke is the administrative center, and eight each in Central Papua and Highland Papua. The rump Papua province retains nine districts spread out along the northern coast.

The fifth province of Indonesian Papua is the pre-existing West Papua, which remains territorially intact. It contains 1.1 million people and draws economic benefits from British petroleum company BP’s Tangguh liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in the so-called Bird’s Head region.

Controversial changes to Papua’s 2001 Special Autonomy Law last year cleared the way for the recent division, which appears to cut across the seven tribal Papuan areas that Widodo formally recognized in a 2020 presidential instruction.

At 323,370 square kilometers, Papua province was by far Indonesia’s largest, roughly the size of Norway and with a populace of barely 4.3 million. About half those people are migrants from other islands who have settled mostly in lowland areas.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, the pre-division Papua province’s income last year was 14.7 trillion rupiah, or US$991.5 million, placing it fifth behind Jakarta (Rp72.18 trillion), West Java (Rp41.47 trillion), East Java (Rp31.2 trillion) and Central Java (Rp26.7 trillion).

Revenues are boosted by the presence of Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg copper and gold mine in Central Papua, a new province stretching from the city of Nabire 200 kms across the Central Highlands to Freeport’s logistics center of Timika (pop: 142,000) on the south coast.

Although the best estimates suggest Freeport’s contribution may be as high as Rp12-13 trillion, there appears to be little to show for it – or for the $$8 billion the province has received in additional special autonomy allocations from the central government since 2002.

Critics blame that on corruption and the result of a concentration of power in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians in Jayapura, the capital and largest city (pop:363,000) located in the far northeast corner of the province bordering Papua New Guinea.

As a land bridge linking the north and south coasts, Central Papua stands to be the economic engine of the region, home not only to Freeport but also to the promising Wabu gold deposit and a long-planned hydro-electric project on the Urumuka River flowing out of Lake Enaratoli. 

Construction workers still have to finish a 23km stretch of the road linking Timika and the new province capital of Nabire (pop: 170,000), sitting on the 4,325km Trans-Papua Highway connecting Sorong in the west to Merauke in the southeast.

Another of Widodo’s pet infrastructure projects, which will open up the highlands for the first time, the final 183 kms of the pioneering highway are expected to be completed by 2024, although not all of it will have been paved by then.

Why the government chose Nabire as the capital has been the subject of conjecture. In any case the choice angered local Amungme and Kamoro tribal leaders. Freeport reportedly lobbied against the tribals’ choice, Timika, worried it would have to deal with the daily demands of a more powerful local government.

There were more compelling political reasons as well, mostly stemming from the past dominance of ailing provincial governor Lukas Enembe, 55, a loyalist of ex-president and Democrat Party leader Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono whose term ends later this year.

Enembe, the first highlander elected to the post, shunned Widodo’s early visits to Papua, but appears to have been brought into line in 2018 by corruption allegations involving Papuan student scholarships, in addition to charges that he interfered in district elections.  

Analysts say the ruling Indonesian Democrat Party for Struggle (PDI-P) and the second-ranked Golkar Party pushed hard for Nabire as part of an overall effort to end the Democrat Party’s hold on the province ahead of the 2024 legislative elections.

Breaking up the province into three power centers will have the effect of diluting the domination of Enembe’s majority Dani tribe and weakening the authority of Timika-based Mimika district chief Eltinus Omaleng, who steps down in late 2023. 

An Amungme, Omaleng has his eyes on the governorship of Central Papua, but political sources say Jakarta favors former Papua police chief Paulus Waterpauw, 58, now apparently learning the ropes as temporary governor of West Papua.

The trusted 58-year-old intelligence officer served as provincial police commander from 2014 to 2015, then was brought back in 2019-2021 to deal with the fallout from riots that engulfed the province after a racial incident in the East Java city of Surabaya. 

A hardline Golkar loyalist, Waterpauw is a Christian member of the small Kamoro tribe from West Papua’s Fak-Fak district, more than half of whose inhabitants are Muslim. That’s unusual for Indonesian Papua. About 62% of the West Papua population is Christian and the figure in pre-division Papua province was 70%. 

———Article is from Asia times.com/2208————————

Dialogue a dignified solution to the Papuan conflict

Peacebuilding in PapuaNews Desk

15 August 2022

Illustration of Nduga children living in refugee camps in Muliama District, Jayawijaya due to armed conflict in the central highlands of Papua. – Jubi/Yuliana Lantipo

Jayapura, Jubi – Researcher from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) Cahyo Pamungkas said that in order to resolve with dignity the prolonged conflict in Papua, the solution was no other than through dialogue, not even the regional expansion into new provinces.

This was conveyed by Cahyo as a speaker in the Indonesia Leaders Talk online discussion “Let’s Love Papua” organized by the Prosperous Justice Party on Friday, August 12, 2022.

Even though the central government carried out Papua expansion with the argument to improve development and equal distribution of public services for the Papuan people, Cahyo said Papuan human resources were not ready for it. Study shows that the average length of

Papuans going to school was up until grade 2 to grade 5 of elementary school.

“If we look at conflict areas, such as in Nduga, Intan Jaya, the average length of schooling is only up to grade 3 of elementary school. How do we want the expansion of a province when the level of education is like that?” he said.

According to him, the number of new provinces in Papua did not guarantee that the conflict in Papua would end. Conflicts can only be resolved through peaceful dialogue between the central government in Jakarta and Papua.

“Dialogue doesn’t kill anyone. Conflicts can only be resolved through dialogue,” he said.;

Papuan human rights activist Frederika Korain added in the forum the importance of evaluating the 20-year implementation of Law No. 21/2001 on Papua’s Special Autonomy (Otsus). According to Korain, through a dialogue forum, all problems that occur in Papua can be discussed openly between the central government and the Papuan people.

“Otsus in Papua has been running for 20 years but why is the human development index of Papua) is still low? Why are Papuans increasingly marginalized? Why is militarism on the rise in Papua? We, the Papuan people, hope that there will be an open forum, where both parties sit down and evaluate the process that has taken place before, and then formulate together how Papua will go forward,” said Korain.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of Lokataru Haris Azhar said Papua did not need regional expansion, as there was no guarantee that it would resolve the conflict in Papua. So far, Haris said, Papua was oftentimes only seen as a living space for oligarchs to massively exploit Papua’s natural resources.

Haris said that currently, Papua needed leaders who were emotionally and culturally understanding and able to move people to resolve conflicts in Papua. (*)