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West Papua: 15,000 Flee Military Assualt, 5,000 in Independence Demo, Hunger Strike

The last month has seen big events in West Papua and here we try to summarise some of the main incidents. We are doing this of course from the other side of the globe so we also include some direct messages from West Papua as reported by Demmak/Watch Papua on their website: West Papua News

6/12/04 SSP (Brighton)





The Indonesian military has been attacking villages in the heavily forested highland district of Puncak Jaya. Dozens have already been killed; either directly by bullets from helicopter gun ships or from starvation in the crowded makeshift camps that now adorn Pancke Jaya - the highest mountain in Australasia.

The military assault follows guerrilla attacks attributed to around 50 OPM/TPN warriors in mid October. Six Indonesian construction workers were killed when their vehicle was attacked. This was followed by the torching of government schools and administration buildings - (see SSP article on torching).

The subsequent state reaction has led to 'internal refugees' now exceeding 15,000 people from 147 villages. Some are forced to hide in caves in the mountains in the central Puncak Jaya district. People are starving. The death of 15 people, mainly children, was reported on November 27th. There are 2800 troops in several locations around Puncak Jaya, blocking off access to the Papuans who fled into the forest seeking refuge. As well as direct attacks on people the troops have been destroying village houses, wrecking food gardens, killing domestic animals etc.

Against this huge state assault the tribes have shown their instincts for both flight AND fight. In mid November after much of the population had fled into the forest a government convoy on the way to the area was ambushed. One policeman was killed and 12 officials, police and local media were injured. According to Associated Press; 'about 100 insurgents from the Free Papua Movement ambushed the group…local military commander Maj. Gen. Nurdin Zainal told El-Shinta radio. "Rebels attacked the officials with axes, swords and arrows and then ran off into the jungle."

The helicopter gunship herding of the main mass of tribes people up onto the mountain peaks probably serves three functions.

Collective Punishment: for guerrilla attacks on development projects. The military must show both the population as a whole and warriors in particular that the death of children, lovers and family is the reward for insurgency- just as the British army did in India, Borneo and Kenya!

Draining the Sea: means the fish have nothing to swim in. The Papuan people are the sea and the military may hope that by driving them up onto the peaks it can easier deal with the warriors left behind- at least for now.

Genocide: in the service of expansion and profit is the primary function of the Indonesian Army in New Guinea. Today's cold mountain top deaths are just the most recent in a massacre that has eradicated a sixth of the Papuan population.


By WPNews Dec 3, 2004, 22:44

This is brief report from Puncak Jaya, when I visited them directly where they are now.

  1. From the up helicopter TNI bomb and destroyed all that people own in some places as, Pilia village, 3 houses, many of the people lost pigs.

    Monia 12 houses, 1 school building one area of garden, uncountable of animals, as pigs, goat.

    TingginNmbut, 7 houses, one church, 1 area of garden, lost all kind of cattle.

    Tinggin Eneri, 5 houses, 1 church, more then 10 cattle lost.

    Kopalome, 7 houses, no cattle with the owner.

    Yaniruk, all gardens was burnt.

    Eri Muli (Indonesia gave named Puncak Senyum) 4 houses, 3 long house for small store. No cattle found, all owner did not bring all their own with them, everything has burnt.

    In Mulia town TNI burnt a big building belong to church which the place many refugee were settle.

  2. The civilians were gunned by TNI are:
    1. Elisa Tabuni, 40 years old, Pastor in Tingginambut village,

      His brother is Wonemban Tabuni, he was gunned too on his head, but still alive.

    2. Fotokopi Telenggen, 28 years old, Civilians. He was gunned in Tingginambut, when he looking for his family.
    3. 15 children died before but now 3 more died.
      1. Nalikwe Elaby, 40 years old, dead in refuge camp.
      2. Yumile Yikwa, 4 years old. Dead in refugee camp.
      3. Sara Elaby 2 years old. All became 18 people dead in refugee camp.
  3. 3. 15,000 more, because they are watching by TNI all the corner of road. All the civilian can't go to get food, or go to Mulia town to find any need, because TNI assumed all those people who comes from jungle is OPM. Until I send this letter they are still settle in jungle/refugee camp.
  4. Their condition is not normal, because of they thinking many thing about their Father, husband, Brother, Uncle, cattle, food, medical supply, because some of them are sick. They really need help, but no one can visit them because scare of TNI, field is too far, climb up and down mountains.
  5. There is no help. No help from church, human right group, Government. TNI stop all the way to help them, but I hope Amnesty can do help them. I went there because I use my foundation name, so I did not got trouble. They asked me to visit them again, but I can't go there because I don't hold any help to give them.

Thank you, I'll try to find scanner to scan all these pictures. With glad I will send it to you. Please pray for me, to find that kind of thing so I can work easily to help our people. Love from Papua jungles,

The most recent news from the camps comes from a message received by FPCN on 6/12/04.

Dear friends, I just got news from Puncak Jaya by phone call that they said, many of refugee have no more food, no medical supply, so I am siting and thinking how they are now, because I have seen them directlly how the condition there. Please tell some people who can help them to bring them out from this situation. places I went to visited refugee are too far from their villages so this is very hard for me to think how can I help them. Thank you brother, I will wait for any hope..... Your brother from Jungle,

While the Highlands have been resistive and summarily repressed, in the city there have been demos and a hunger strike. December 1st is celebrated/mourned as West Papuan Independence day. Since the fall of Suharto Papuan towns have hosted illegal but overt, mass pro-independence flag raising rituals - which inevitably have led to bloody and lethal army attacks. This year was no exception. 5000 raised the Papuan 'Morning Star' flag for one hour.

Papuan activists shot during demonstration

By SMH Dec 2, 2004,

Violence has flared in the capital of Indonesia's troubled province of West Papua as security forces moved to break up a flag-raising ceremony by independence supporters, a Sydney-based human rights monitor said yesterday.

Five people were shot and wounded and at least 18 people arrested as 100 police dispersed the gathering at Trikora soccer field in Adepura, a suburb of Jayapura, just before 4pm (AEST) yesterday, John Rumbiak, international spokesman for the Papuan human rights group Elsham, said.

December 1 commemorates the first West Papuan national congress in 1961, organised by the then ruling Dutch as a preparation for independence.

Two of the event organisers had been beaten by police as they were taken away on a police truck for interrogation in the city centre, Mr Rumbiak said, quoting a report by phone from his colleagues in Jayapura.

Another 16 people were being questioned at the local Adepura police station.

Among the five people wounded were 20-year-old Marselina Gobay, who was shot in the leg, and 24-year-old Yermia Kayame, shot in the head.

As was said back in 2000 when a similar incident occurred:

'Opinion on the flag issue is divided within the OPM; some see the defence of the flag as an important symbol of aspiration, others as a senseless waste of Papuan lives', (West Papua AU No.2)

Either way the event has resulted in further arrests - prisoners who now need outside support. Two of the twenty two prisoners arrested on 1/12/04 are on hunger strike - Philip Karma (47) and Yusak Pakage(26). They have refused to eat and talk to the police and whoever comes to visit them.



Incidents like what is happening in Pancuk Jaya are inevitable in a struggle for survival like that the Papuans face. What is not inevitable is their total lack of medicines and basic supplies. To deal with similar (smaller) incidents SSP has transferred funds over to West Papua for basic necessities like food and blankets etc and we have also delivered medical aid to Papuan Refugees direct. We are continuing to raise funds and plan direct aid.


We will be holding a 'phone a jailer and hassle an embassy' day later on this week and next. More details will follow in the next e-mail with phone numbers etc.