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3 of 3: ICG: Papua: The Dangers of Shutting Down Dialogue  Tapol
 Mar 24, 2006 08:01 PST 


-3 of 3-

International Crisis Group Asia [Jakarta/Brussels]
23 March 2006
Briefing N°47
Papua: The Dangers of Shutting Down Dialogue
continues...

C. MRP Proposal and The Snap Election in IJB

The MRP passed the results of its consultation to the
Papuan parliament and gave it time to assess the data
before meeting again with the central government.
Chairman Agus Alue Alua sent a fax to the vice
president's office on 14 February stating that no
representative would attend the Jakarta meeting the
following day but outlining the MRP's basic position,
which had softened in a few subtle but significant
ways: "no" to pemekaran, including in IJB, had become
"not yet", and the seven preconditions were expressed
as recommendations for when pemekaran was implemented.
The main points in the fax were as follows:

* it was not the right time to carry out pemekaran in
West Irian Jaya;

* any pemekaran in Papua should be conducted in
accordance with Article 76 of the Special Autonomy
Law;

* the gubernatorial elections in Papua should include
voters throughout Papua (including West Irian Jaya),
as intended in article 1(a) of the Special Autonomy
law;

* the MRP, on behalf of the Papuan people, requested a
comprehensive dialogue on these issues;

* any pemekaran the government implements should
ensure Papua's cultural and economic unity as per the
seven preconditions;

* the government should establish a mechanism to
oversee and coordinate governance of Papua as a single
economic and cultural unit; and

* the seven conditions suggested by the MRP should be
codified in a legal instrument such as a government
regulation (peraturan pemerintah) or perpu.

On 15 February, Vice President Kalla and Ministers
Ma'ruf and Widodo met with Jimmy Ijie, Acting West
Irian Jaya Governor Timbul and a group of IJB district
heads in Jakarta to explain the central government's
approach to resolving the dispute. They made clear
that it would be resolved in accordance with the
Special Autonomy law, and that the gubernatorial
election in West Irian Jaya must not be conducted
until after the 10 March elections in Papua.

On 17 February the MRP presented the complete results
of the public consultation to Papua's acting governor
and Vice President Kalla, along with a statement
arguing, on the basis of the consultation, that it was
not the time to carry out pemekaran in West Irian Jaya
and reiterating the seven points in the 14 February
fax. This was reinforced by a supporting letter from
the Papuan parliament, sent on the same day, which
threatened that if the central government went ahead
with pemekaran in IJB outside the mechanism in Article
76 of the Special Autonomy law, it would hold a
special session to return the Special Autonomy law.

Leaders of the MRP and Papuan parliament met with Vice
President Kalla in Jakarta on 20 February. Kalla made
clear that residents of IJB would not participate in
the Papuan gubernatorial election but that the
government was still assessing the MRP's other
recommendations and would decide how to proceed with
West Irian Jaya's legalisation after Papua voted for a
governor in March.

West Irian Jaya politicians continued to push for the
gubernatorial election to be held simultaneously,
despite the earlier refusal of Vice President Kalla.
IJB's provincial electoral commission sent a letter to
the home minister announcing its intention to hold the
vote on 10 March. Then in consultations that
completely excluded the MRP, the central government
remarkably agreed with the West Irian Jaya government
and electoral commission that it could hold the vote a
day later, on 11 March.

Four of IJB's nine district heads and the local
representative of the Dewan Adat, Yoab Syatfle,
rejected the poll and threatened a mass boycott,
arguing the negotiations with the MRP on the
province's legal status should be completed first. The
MRP and Papuan parliament called for it to be delayed
until a compromise could be reached and tried
unsuccessfully to meet directly with the president to
negotiate a brief delay. But the vote went ahead on 11
March, the day after the Papuan gubernatorial
election.

The threatened boycott did not materialise. Voter
turnout was over 70 per cent, which is higher than the
national average for provincial governor elections.
There were some reports of military intimidation to
prevent the planned boycott in Manokwari and Sorong
districts but such a high turnout across the province
implies significant local support. The MRP and the
Papuan parliament continue to reject the election, and
Yorrys Rayewai, the unsuccessful Golkar party
candidate, plans to mount a legal challenge, but Home
Minister Ma'ruf has confirmed its validity.

The bigger issue the gubernatorial election in West
Irian Jaya raises, however, is its implications for
the future legal status of the province. Its sudden
authorisation, outside the framework of Special
Autonomy and opposed by the MRP, undermines the
process of reconciling the province with the Papuan
autonomy law. Bram Atururi, the founding father of
West Irian Jaya, is the clear victor, and his
commitment to Special Autonomy for the province is
less than solid.

V. The Freeport Protests

Negotiations over IJB's status were already up in the
air after the elections, but the explosion of tensions
in Timika and Jayapura over the Freeport mine wiped
them off the public agenda altogether.

Freeport is the company that everybody loves to hate.
Controversial since it first began exploration in
1967, before Papua had been incorporated into
Indonesia, it has come under criticism at the local,
national and international level for everything from
alleged corruption to producing environmental
degradation, to accusations of fuelling military
abuses against locals. Each of these issues has
resurfaced in one form or another in the last few
months. A 6,000-word exposé on the front page of The
New York Times in late December 2005 provided much of
the impetus. Few of its allegations were new, but it
helped draw national and international attention to
the issues.

Freeport openly pays the Indonesian military to
provide security for its mine, but the Times reported
separate large payments to individual commanders,
prompting investigations both in Jakarta and
Washington.

Indonesian politicians jumped on the bandwagon,
calling for an investigation into the well-known
environmental problems and a review of Freeport's
contract to extract more tax. Many played the
nationalist card by questioning foreign exploitation
of a vital national asset.

A few weeks after the Times report, on 11 January
2006, the prime suspect and several others reportedly
involved in the killing of an Indonesian and two
American Freeport employees in August 2003 were
arrested, focusing new attention on that case. Free
Papua Movement guerrillas took part in that ambush,
but allegations of local military involvement linger
on.

Freeport is Indonesia's single largest tax payer

$1.2 billion in 2005 alone. Whenever the company comes
under attack, it is almost always a mixture of genuine
and manufactured grievances, and criticism on any one
issue usually acts as a lightening rod for a host of
others. It was in this context that a series of local
protests escalated into a riot that claimed five lives
in Abepura on 16 March and tested the MRP yet again.

A clash between local illegal gold panners and
Freeport security guards on 21 February sparked weeks
of protests, several of which turned violent, at the
mine site, in the Papuan capital of Jayapura, and
beyond. The initial clash on 21 February appeared to
stem from a dispute between local prospectors and
soldiers who facilitated the illicit mining of
Freeport tailings but quickly became linked to
generalised anger over uneven distribution of the
province's mineral riches. Locals feel they benefit
very little from the 1.46 billion pounds of copper and
2.8 million ounces of gold extracted every year by the
American mining giant and complain of environmental
degradation and human rights abuses by the Indonesian
soldiers guarding the mine.

Protestors in Timika, Jayapura, Jakarta and Makassar
demanded closure of the Freeport mine and withdrawal
of Indonesian soldiers guarding it. Many of the
demonstrations had long been planned by student groups
linked to the independence movement but the Freeport
protests also reflected broader frustration and anger
over the role of the military in Papua, lack of
justice for past abuses and the failure of Special
Autonomy to improve the welfare of indigenous Papuans.

The MRP and the Papuan parliament sent a joint
fact-finding mission to Timika on 12 March to
investigate the clashes at the mine. It met with
leaders of seven local tribes as well as Freeport
employees. On the morning of 14 March, it was due to
visit the mine site, accompanied by Freeport staff and
representatives of local communities. On the evening
of the 13 March, a group of eight student activists
from Jayapura asked to join the delegation's visit,
but were refused. That group, led by local Front
Pepera activist Jefri Pagawak, therefore decided to
blockade the entrance road at Mile 28, and convinced
the local community leaders to join the protest. When
the delegation drove to the site the following
morning, over 50 locals were blockading the entrance,
armed with rocks, machetes and spears, shouting at the
MRP and parliamentarians to keep out of the problem

After fruitlessly trying to negotiate with the crowd,
the delegation returned to its hotel. Several hours
later, the protestors followed and attacked the hotel,
throwing rocks and burning cars. Immediately after the
violence the team was evacuated. Police arrested
fifteen people and are searching for five who fled.
Jefri Pagawak is among the five, having been
implicated in the Sheraton attack by witnesses and
other suspects in detention, but he denies any
involvement.

The day after the violence in Timika, more protests
broke out in Jayapura. On 15 March, student activists
blockaded the road between Jayapura and Sentani,
demanding closure of the Freeport mine. Traffic was
completely paralysed from mid-day until just after
6:00 p.m., when the protesters dispersed. The
following day, at 6:00 a.m., students from the
Jayapura branch of the Front Pepera again erected a
blockade near the Cenderawasih University campus in
Abepura, on the Jayapura-Sentani road but by 8:00 the
police had surrounded them and were trying to convince
them to disperse.

Meanwhile, though, hundreds of people (assumed not to
be students) streamed down from the hills behind the
campus to join the demonstration. At 10:00 a.m., the
speaker of the Papuan parliament, Komarudin Watubun,
came to negotiate with the protestors, offering
several compromises, but they insisted they would not
leave until he guaranteed the Timika Freeport mine
would be closed, the military and police withdrawn
from the area, and seven protestors arrested in Timika
after an earlier protest released. At around noon,
police plucked the demonstration organiser and leader
of the West Papua Referendum Front, Selfius Bobii,
from the crowd and took him into detention.

Anti-riot police warned the crowd that if it did not
disperse they would use force to break the blockade.
At 12:30 p.m., riot police sprayed tear gas into the
crowd, and most protestors ran into the campus where,
from behind a fence, they threw rocks and bottles at
the police. There was a minivan full of large rocks
apparently deliberately collected for use by rioters.
Two officers who tripped and fell in the melee were
seized by a part of the crowd and bludgeoned to death.
A third officer died of stab wounds, and an air force
intelligence officer was beaten to death on the campus
by a group of students. Another nineteen police
officers were injured, one of whom died in hospital on
22 March.

Twenty-four civilians were hospitalised with injuries
inflicted by the police and the mob, including five
with gunshot wounds. Security officers fired mostly
into the air, but film footage showed at least one man
in plain clothes fire into the crowd.

In the days after the riot, police conducted sweeps of
student dormitories, reportedly beating civilians and
firing shots into the air. Stray bullets wounded two
women and a ten-year-old girl. Police took in over 70
people for questioning and have so far arrested
fifteen, but much about the Abepura riot remains
unclear. Local human rights organisations attempting
to investigate have been hampered by police
interference and intimidation. Journalists have been
denied access to hospitals to interview victims.

The armed forces commander, national police and
intelligence chiefs, and coordinating minister for
politics, law and security were all dispatched to
Jayapura the night of the riot to meet with local
security forces, politicians and community leaders.
Many MRP members, including the chairman, Agus Alue
Alua, were in different parts of the province and
unable to get back to meet the high-level delegation.

Those who did attend the meeting on the morning of 17
March, including Second Deputy Hana Hikoyabi, felt
that their suggestions were not being heeded.

The Freeport protests began as the MRP was in the
midst of crisis negotiations over West Irian Jaya, and
the fact finding team it eventually deployed was
threatened and attacked. The Abepura violence erupted
in the wake of the Papua and West Irian Jaya
gubernatorial elections, while MRP members were
scattered around Papua consulting with constituents
and attending to other matters. Chairman Agus Alue
Alua was in Timika, and Deputy I Frans Wospakrik was
in Biak; neither was able to get to Jayapura in time
for the senior ministers' lightening visit. The
ministers in turn made only perfunctory efforts to
engage the People's Council, but even given all those
limitations, the MRP's intervention on this issue has
to be judged as very ineffective.

The MRP is now preparing a report for the central
government on this issue, which will include
recommendations on traditional land and other basic
rights of the local communities. It will present this
report and seek an audience with the President on both
the Freeport and West Irian Jaya issues in late March.

VII. Conclusion

The odds have been stacked against the MRP from the
beginning. Even before negotiations on West Irian Jaya
were derailed by the election and violence broke out
in Abepura it was weak but these two blows in rapid
succession have proved nearly fatal. MRP members are
discouraged and demoralised, and many are ready to
quit. The central government has done nothing to
counter the perception that it is marginalising the
institution.

It is up to the government in Jakarta to make the
first move to salvage the relationship. It needs to
engage the MRP actively on both the Freeport and West
Irian Jaya issues.

For its part, the MRP has taken positions on both
issues that, while they might reflect popular
sentiment, have been too easy for the central
government to dismiss. On West Irian Jaya, it did
begin to make concessions, but needed to go much
further. Now, rather than focus on the objections to
the way the province was created, it needs somehow to
accommodate the reality that West Irian Jaya, like it
or not, is not going to be dismantled, and set out
practical proposals for addressing the substantive
concerns of Papuans on military build-up,

affirmative action and cultural unity.

On the Freeport issue, its response to the initial
protests was sluggish. The first clash took place on
21 February but the MRP delegation only arrived in
Timika on 12 March, after the crisis had escalated
significantly. After the Abepura violence, when MRP
representatives met with central government officials,
they offered no practical policy suggestions for the
government to adopt. Tensions have eased in Abepura
for now but the MRP played no role in that process.

Nevertheless, the institution remains important. It is
the most representative body to emerge so far and has
the support of key Papuan institutions. The MRP will
need to improve its negotiating skills and not
squander its legitimacy on battles it cannot win but
rather choose its issues very carefully. It will also
need to frame them in a way that does not immediately
alienate Jakarta. The central government needs to
realise that it is in its interest to help the MRP
succeed, because if it fails, Special Autonomy the

best hope for Papua-Jakarta relations will be badly,

if not irreparably damaged.

Jakarta/Brussels, 23 March 2006

-END 3 of 3-

------------------------------------------
Joyo Indonesia News Service
------------------------------------------



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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
tap-@gn.apc.org http://tapol.gn.apc.org


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