||On September 22, 2010, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Rep. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS), held a hearing entitled “Crimes Against Humanity: When Will Indonesia’s Military Be Held Accountable for Deliberate and Systematic Abuses in West Papua?” This was the first hearing ever held in the U.S. Congress on the issue of West Papua.
Indonesia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Dino Patti Djalal, said he was “not concerned by the hearing because it was only attended by three Congress people, and that the U.S. government should not change its stance.”
“Ambassador Djalal is new to the U.S. and has failed to realize the importance of Wednesday’s hearing,” Faleomavaega said. “Little does Ambassador Djalal know but as a result of the attention this hearing was given, Papuan leaders met with officials at the National Security Council, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, and other Members of Congress whose schedules did not permit them to attend the hearing.”
“Regrettably, Ambassador Djalal’s attitude is typical of Indonesian indifference to the serious concerns raised at the hearing. More than 50 Members of the U.S. Congress are so concerned by Indonesia’s failure to implement Special Autonomy that they joined with Chairman Donald Payne of the Subcommittee on Africa and myself to urge President Obama to make the issue of West Papua one of his highest priorities when he visits Indonesia.”
“The Members of Congress who signed this letter are mostly Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Ambassador Djalal’s remarks are really an affront to every person of conscience and color who is committed to ending the abuse and resolving the conflict in West Papua.”
“The people of West Papua have suffered long enough at the hands of Indonesia’s brutal military and police forces, and many experts suggest that West Papuans have been subjected to genocide. Whether or not genocide has taken place, one thing is clear. Indonesia’s military has committed indisputable crimes against humanity through the murder, torture and rape of more than 100,000 West Papuans.”
“While President SBY inherited a very difficult situation, I am disappointed that he has not been able to get his military under control and prevent further abuses in West Papua. I am also disappointed that he has not implemented Special Autonomy as promised. While Ambassador Djalal implies that the UN has already determined the status of West Papua, nothing could be further from the truth.”
“This is no issue of territorial integrity. West Papua was a former Dutch colony for some 100 years just as East Timor was a former Portuguese colony just as Indonesia was a former colony of the Netherlands. Because of its status as a former colony, East Timor achieved its independence from Indonesia in 2002 through a referendum sanctioned by the United Nations (UN), despite Indonesia’s serious objections over East Timor’s right to self-determination.”
“In contrast, in 1962 the United States pressured the Dutch to turn over control of West Papua to the United Nations. Under the U.S.-brokered deal, Indonesia was to ‘make arrangements with the assistance and participation of the United Nations’ to give Papuans an opportunity to determine whether they wished to become part of Indonesia or not.”
“In what became known as the Act of No Choice carried out in 1969, 1025 West Papua elders under heavy military surveillance were selected to vote on behalf of 809,327 West Papuans regarding the territory’s political status. In spite of serious violations of the UN Charter and no broad-based referendum, West Papua was forced to become a part of Indonesia by the barrel of a gun.”
“According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), ‘declassified documents released in July 2004 indicate that the United States supported Indonesia’s take-over of Papua in the lead up to the 1969 Act of Free Choice even as it was understood that such a move was likely unpopular with Papuans. The documents reportedly indicate that the United States estimated that between 85% and 90% of Papuans were opposed to Indonesian rule and that as a result the Indonesians were incapable of winning an open referendum at the time of Papua’s transition from Dutch colonial rule. Such steps were evidently considered necessary to maintain the support of Suharto’s Indonesia during the Cold War.’”
“Today, the U.S. provides millions of dollars in aid to Indonesia and its military but Indonesia will not allow Members of the U.S. Congress to visit Jayapura in West Papua. This is wrong and should not be tolerated by the U.S.”
“Indonesia should get serious about West Papua, and I will do everything I can to keep this issue in the spotlight, especially given that many Samoans served as missionaries to West Papua and brought Christianity to the islands. Some of my Samoan relatives are buried in West Papua and their service and sacrifice compels me to do what I can for the people they loved.”
“According to CRS, ‘migration by non-Melanesian Indonesians from elsewhere in the nation appears to be a critical part of the mounting tensions. By some accounts Melanesian Papuans will be in the minority in their homeland by 2015.’”
“We cannot allow this to happen. While there is so much more I want to say about the commercial exploitation of West Papua’s renowned mineral wealth which includes vast reserves of gold, copper, nickel, oil and gas and Freeport USA’s own shameful role in this exploitation, for now I want to commend the West Papuans who testified at last week’s hearing.”
“Mr. Octovianus Mote, Founder of the West Papua Action Network and President of the Papua Resource Center; Mr. Henkie Rumbewas, International Advocate of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA); Mr. Salamon Maurits Yumame, Head of FORDEM (The Democratic Forum); S. Eben Kirksey, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of The Graduate Center, The City University of New York testified in support of and on behalf of the people of West Papua, making it plain to the U.S. Congress that Indonesia has failed to implement the Special Autonomy law which was passed in 2001. Consequently, they urged that a new dialogue should take place to determine a way forward.”
“Sophie Richardson, Ph.D., Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch addressed the issue of ongoing human rights abuses. Pieter Drooglever, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Institute of Netherlands History, provided an historical background of events which have led to division and discord.”
“Mr. Nicholas Simeone Messet, a West Papuan who has lived in Sweden for the past 38 years or so, said that West Papuans are ‘lazy’ and should accept some of the blame for the failure of Special Autonomy. In my opinion is it is wrong to blame the oppressed.”
“In his statement before the UN against Apartheid, Nelson Mandela said, ‘It will forever remain an accusation and challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took so long as it has before all of us stood up to say enough is enough.’ This is how I feel about West Papua. Others feel the same, despite Ambassador Djalal’s objectionable remarks which implied that no one really cares since Indonesia has more friends than critics in the U.S. Congress.”
“For the Ambassador’s information, 50 Members of the U.S. Congress as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan and more than 174 parliamentarians and 80 nongovernmental agencies from around the world have joined together to call upon Indonesia to end the violence and resolve the problems in West Papua. Simply put, this issue is not going away until Indonesia is held accountable, and I have every confidence that President Obama will, in fact, seek dialogue.”
“Until then, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of West Papua who only want what we all want – the right to live in peace and pursue happiness. In response to the hearing, I have received word that the families of some of our West Papuan witnesses have been visited by Indonesia police forces. I hope this is not the case but, for precautionary purposes, I am asking our U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to look into this disturbing report.”
“As a matter of record, I am also including the full text of my remarks which provide a detailed accounting of the purpose of this hearing,” Faleomavaega concluded.
THE HONORABLE ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA
BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTE
“Crimes Against Humanity: When Will Indonesia’s Military Be Held Accountable for Deliberate and Systematic Abuses in West Papua?”
September 22, 2010
To my knowledge, today’s hearing is historic. This hearing is the first hearing ever held in the U.S. Congress that gives voice to the people of West Papua.
Since 1969, the people of West Papua have been deliberately and systematically subjected to slow-motion genocide by Indonesian military forces yet Indonesia declares that the issue is an internal matter while the U.S. Department of State “recognizes and respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia.” The truth is, this is no issue of territorial integrity or an internal matter, and the record is clear on this point.
West Papua was a former Dutch colony for some 100 years just as East Timor was a former Portuguese colony just as Indonesia was a former colony of the Netherlands. Because of its status as a former colony, East Timor achieved its independence from Indonesia in 2002 through a referendum sanctioned by the United Nations (UN), despite Indonesia’s serious objections over East Timor’s right to self-determination.
In contrast, in 1962 the United States pressured the Dutch to turn over control of West Papua to the United Nations. Under the U.S.-brokered deal, Indonesia was to “make arrangements with the assistance and participation of the United Nations” to give Papuans an opportunity to determine whether they wished to become part of Indonesia or not.
In what became known as the Act of No Choice carried out in 1969, 1025 West Papua elders under heavy military surveillance were selected to vote on behalf of 809,327 West Papuans regarding the territory’s political status. In spite of serious violations of the UN Charter and no broad-based referendum, West Papua was forced to become a part of Indonesia by the barrel of a gun.
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), “declassified documents released in July 2004 indicate that the United States supported Indonesia’s take-over of Papua in the lead up to the 1969 Act of Free Choice even as it was understood that such a move was likely unpopular with Papuans. The documents reportedly indicate that the United States estimated that between 85% and 90% of Papuans were opposed to Indonesian rule and that as a result the Indonesians were incapable of winning an open referendum at the time of Papua’s transition from Dutch colonial rule. Such steps were evidently considered necessary to maintain the support of Suharto’s Indonesia during the Cold War.”
Bluntly put, in exchange for Suharto’s anti-communist stance, the United States expended the hopes and dreams and lives of some 100,000 Papuans who consequently died as a result of Indonesian military rule. Although some challenge this estimate it is an indisputable fact that Indonesia has deliberately and systematically committed crimes against humanity and has yet to be held accountable.
While I have expressed my concern that there is strong indication that the Indonesian government has committed genocide against the Papuans, I am disappointed that the U.S. Department of State requested that I omit the word ‘genocide’ in the initial title I put forward for this hearing. The State Department requested a change in title based on the assertion that ‘genocide’ is a legal term.
Article 2 of the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
This definition of genocide under international law accurately describes the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Indonesia’s military, whether the U.S. State Department agrees or not. But given U.S. complicity, it is little wonder that every Administration wishes to distance itself from this ugliness.
As Joseph Conrad wrote in his book The Heart of Darkness, “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.”
When you look into it too much, nothing about Indonesia’s ruthless brutality or U.S. complicity is a pretty thing. In 2007, I led a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Indonesia on the personal promise of President SBY and Vice President Kalla that I would be granted 5 days to visit Biak, Manokwari, and, most importantly, Jayapura, in support of efforts to implement special autonomy that was approved by the government of Indonesia since 2001.
However, while enroute to Jakarta, I received word that the Indonesian government would only grant 3 days for my visit. Upon my arrival on November 25, 2007, I was informed that I would be granted only 1 day and that I would not be allowed to visit Jayapura. As it played out, I was granted 2 hours in Biak and 10 minutes in Manokwari.
In Biak, I met with Governor Suebu, and other traditional, religious and local leaders hand-selected by the government. Other Papuans, like Chief Tom Beanal and Mr. Willie Mandowen were detained by the military until my office interceded. U.S. Ambassador Cameron Hume and I also had to make our way through a military barricade because Indonesia military forces (TNI) had blocked Papuans from meeting with me. For the record, I am submitting photos showing the excessive presence of military force.
In Manokwari, the military presence was even worse. Prior to my arrival in Manokwari, I was told that I would be meeting with the Governor only to learn upon my arrival that he was in China and had been there for the past 5 days. Ten minutes later, I was put on a plane while the TNI, in full riot gear, forcefully kept the Papuans from meaningful dialogue. At this time, I would like to share with my colleagues some video tape of my visit in 2007.
After this experience and upon my return to Washington, I wrote to President SBY expressing my disappointment but Jakarta never responded to my letter of December 12, 2007. On March 5, 2008, Chairman Donald Payne of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa joined with me in sending another letter to President SBY which expressed our deep concern about Indonesia’s misuse of military force. We included photographs and a DVD of my experience while in Biak and Manokwari. Again, Jakarta did not bother to reply.
On March 5, 2008, Chairman Payne and I also wrote to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and included a copy of our letter to President SBY as well as the DVD and photographs. Despite the serious concerns we raised about Indonesia’s failure to live up to its promises to allow Members of Congress access to Jayapura and our request to restrict funding to train Indonesia’s military forces, his reply of April 2, 2008 was trite and indifferent, as if West Papua is of no consequence. He concluded his letter by erroneously stating, “TNI performance on human rights has improved dramatically.” Copies of these letters as well as the photographs and DVD are included for the record.
Copies of our materials which we sent on March 6, 2008 to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State and Foreign Operations, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and the Congressional Black Caucus are also included.
In March 2005, Chairman Payne and I wrote to Secretary General Kofi Annan asking for a review of the United Nations’ conduct in West Papua. 35 other Members of Congress from the Congressional Black Caucus signed the joint letter and I am also submitting this letter for the record.
This year, Chairman Payne and I once more spearheaded an effort calling upon President Obama to deal fairly with the people of West Papua and to meet with the Team of 100 indigenous Papuan leaders during his upcoming visit to Indonesia. Although our letter of June 9, 2010 was signed by 50 Members of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of State could not be bothered to send us a thoughtful reply. Instead, we received a dismissive letter of August 11, 2010 signed by the Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs rather than the U.S. Secretary of State which sends a clear signal that this Administration may not be any different than any other in its response to addressing our grave concerns about West Papua. As a matter of record, I am including these letters.
Also, I am including a video that due to its sensitive subject matter I cannot and will not show. The video depicts the violent murder of a Papuan who was killed and gutted by the Indonesian Special Police Corp, or Brigade Mobil (BRIMOB), while the victim was still alive and pleading for someone to kill him in order to put him out of his misery. This isn’t the only murder. The late Papuan leader Theys Hiyo Eluay was also savagely murdered, and the list of lost lives goes on and on.
As Chairman of this Subcommittee, I have been very, very patient. Yes, I realize the importance of the U.S.-Indonesia relationship. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world and the U.S. has a strong interest in reaching out to the Islamic world. But our own struggle against Islamist militancy should not come at the expense of the pain and killing and suffering of the people of West Papua. This is not the America I know.
We can and must do better. In his statement before the UN against Apartheid, Nelson Mandela said, “It will forever remain an accusation and challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took so long as it has before all of us stood up to say enough is enough.” This is how I feel about West Papua.
It is my sincere hope that today’s hearing will help us find a way forward. So far, Indonesia has failed miserably to implement Special Autonomy and, as a result, there is a sense of growing frustration among the Papuans, and rightfully so. According to CRS, “migration by non-Melanesian Indonesians from elsewhere in the nation appears to be a critical part of the mounting tensions. By some accounts Melanesian Papuans will be in the minority in their homeland by 2015.”
While there is so much more I want to say about the commercial exploitation of West Papua’s renowned mineral wealth which includes vast reserves of gold, copper, nickel, oil and gas and Freeport USA’s own shameful role in this exploitation, I will address these issues in my questioning of our witnesses.
In conclusion, I want to thank Edmund McWilliams, a retired U.S. Senior Foreign Service Officer, who has been a long-time advocate for the people of West Papua. Mr. McWilliams was unable to be with us today but he has submitted testimony for the record which will be included.
I also want to welcome our Papuan leaders who have flown at considerable expense to testify before this Subcommittee. I presume none flew at the expense of the Indonesian government but we will find out during these proceedings. Most of the Papuan leaders who are with us today have lived the struggle. Others have only recently returned after living in Sweden for some 38 years. They have since returned home and reclaimed Indonesian citizenship but I am unclear as to their role in a struggle they have given up or never fully lived. I hope we will be provided an explanation.
For now, I recognize my good friend, the Ranking Member, for any opening statement he may wish to make.