Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific

Indonesia News Digest No 5 - Feb 1-7, 2006

, by ASAP

News digest on the continuing fight for democracy
in Indonesia and the struggle for self-determination in Aceh and West Papua. Compiled by the Australian solidarity organisation ASAP “www.asia-pacfic-action.org” and distributed free via e-mail.

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

NEWS & ISSUES

* Police bid to sweep smut off the streets
* Rich and poor end up paying for their supply
* Don’t target Chinese, SBY tells officials
* Militant mastermind hiding in Indonesia - police
* Students protest possible power hike
* Government pushes ahead with broadcasting rules
* Military chief apologizes over ’improper act’

ACEH

* Opposition to amended draft Aceh law growing
* Government warned of destroying trust in Aceh
* Kalla opposes independents
* Aceh law may spur fresh demands but no serious threat
* Aceh draft law set for parliament test
* Acehnese may have chance to field independents
* Basic health and sanitation needs not met in Aceh
* Student demo in Aceh almost ends in clash with
police
* Komnas HAM asked to follow up grave findings in
Aceh
* Indonesia dismisses tsunami rights abuse report
* Students protest omissions in Aceh draft law
* Student oppose removal of articles in draft law
* Activists decry illegal fees for Aceh-bound
timber

WEST PAPUA

* Foreign media ban in Papua to be maintained: Juwono
* Defense minister admits some rights abuses in Papua
* West Papuans ’must escape killing’
* Ball in Australia’s court in asylum case
* Indonesia pressures government on boat people
* Indonesia ups ante on Papuans
* Indonesian Ambassador dismisses claims by Papuans
* Papua students demand justice over Wagete
shooting
* Indonesian refugees were tortured
* Dozens reported dead in Papua dysentery outbreak
* Most locals reject Papua split: MRP
* Concern for West Papuans’ safety
* West Papua: Genocide continues
* Who are the asylum seekers?
* Protests: Let the West Papuan refugees stay!

MILITARY TIES

* Training ’won’t endanger’ Papuans
* End military ties with Indonesia

HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

* Women activists yell no to antiporn bill
* Truth is, SBY ’too busy’ for meeting
* Kontras: TNI does not support Muchdi
* House told to pursue Munir murder case
* New probe into Munir murder sought

CORRUPTION/COLLUSION/NEPOTISM

* Antigraft, antimonopoly bodies join forces
* 200 BUMN officials probed over graft
* Few securities firms report suspicious transactions

REGIONAL/COMMUNAL CONFLICTS

* Ambon refugees still waiting 7 years on
* Police, soldiers ’fanned’ Poso sectarian war

ENVIRONMENT

* Logging provokes nature’s wrath: Activists
* Outrage over plans for palam oil plantation in rain forest
* Scientists find ’lost world’ in Indonesia
* Indonesian says waste from mine tainted fish

ISLAM/RELIGION

* Protests spread in major cities over caricature
* Muslims rally in four cities over cartoons
* Government told to take action over Ahmadiyah
attack
* Art on trial as obscenity furor heats up
* Muslims storm Danish embassy building
* Muhammadiyah leaning toward more conservative
bent
* NU, Muhammadiyah against unlawful use of sharia
* Government told to act on religious violations

ARMED FORCES/DEFENSE

* Ryacudu: There is a global plot to weaken the TNI
* TNI is being ruined: Ryacudu
* Military must have a presence in the regions
* Suyanto vows to reform TNI
* Draft regulation bans company payment for troops
* Airforce chief to head military

BUSINESS & INVESTMENT

* Debt irks lawmakers
* Trade figures reveal problems faced by local
exporters
* Inflationary pressures still strong: BI
* High inflation set to persist this year
* Local auto sector braces for lower duties

OPINION & ANALYSIS

* In pursuit of a humane Acehnese society
* Labor and Coalition must act for West Papua

 NEWS & ISSUES

Police bid to sweep smut off the streets

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2006

Jakarta — Police officers involved in the
crackdown on obscene materials in the capital are
not second guessing themselves on whether covers
of local adult magazines and tabloids qualify as
smut or art. It only takes the showing of skin for
a publication to fall foul of the law.

A total of 105 books, 37,000 tabloids and 350
magazines were confiscated recently from
newsstands in the five municipalities of Jakarta
as well as Depok municipality.

Among such provocatively titled soft-core porn
magazines as Lipstik, Girls Wild, Expose and
Exotica were mainstream publications of Indonesian
versions of Rolling Stone, Male Emporium and For
Him Magazine, as well as local men’s magazines
Matra and Popular.

They were put on display for officials and the
media at Jakarta Police Headquarters on Monday,
along with 1,874 pirated DVDs and 500 VCDs with
pornographic content.

"We’ve conducted the raids over the past three
days, starting Friday, after the National Police
chief instructed all city police forces in
Indonesia to eradicate pornography," Jakarta
Police chief Insp. Gen. Firman Gani said.

They have also arrested 15 alleged manufacturers
of the pirated VCDs and DVDs, and questioned 105
people suspected of engaging in the distribution
and trade of the adult materials.

The crackdown comes amid the ongoing controversy
over the bill on pornography, which is currently
before the House of Representatives.

The police said they consulted criminologists, the
Press Council and the Indonesian Ulema Council
(MUI) on the legal basis for the raids. "The House
has not yet passed the pornography law, but if
Jakartans are disturbed by the existing
pornographic media, then we have the authority to
take action," Firman said.

In the joint press conference, State Minister for
Information and Communication Sofyan A. Djalil
said the government was concerned by the growing
presence of pornography. "However, the government
still hesitates to arrest the perpetrators because
there is no regulation stipulating (punishment) on
the issue," he said.

The Criminal Code authorizes the police to arrest
a person who shows, disseminates and displays
pornographic pictures or writing in public, an
offense which may lead to a maximum jail sentence
of two years and eight months. "But the article
just punishes a person but not the porn
producers," Sofyan said.

In lieu of the new law, the government will use
the 1999 Press Law, which bars media from showing
pornography, to stop its production, he added. He
added a regulation should restrict the
distribution of adult materials. "In the United
States, porn magazines or that kind of material is
legal. But the distribution is restricted to
adults only."

The police will also act against phone sex
services, models and photographers involved in
producing pornographic materials or pornographic
broadcasts. "But we will discuss the issue with
experts first before taking any action," Firman
said.

**********

Rich and poor end up paying for their supply

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2006

Abdul Khalik, Jakarta — Water is the great
equalizer for Jakartans, whether they live in a
swank neighborhood of the city or a crowded
kampong only a stone’s throw away. For everybody
has to pay extra to get a drop that is fit to
drink.

Mother-of-two Inneke is not too bothered when it
comes to meeting her family’s daily water needs.
Like most middle to upper-income consumers, she
has a system in place for her clean water supply
and the money to pay for it.

"We always buy bottled water to drink, while for
bathing, washing and cooking we use tap water. It
would be great if we could use water from the
faucet for drinking, but right now we drink
bottled water for reasons of practicality," said
the resident of an upmarket neighborhood in
Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.

Water is a much more difficult commodity to come
by for most Jakarta families, especially low-
income residents, for whom a 19-liter gallon of
mineral water at Rp 10,000 (about US$1) or a Rp
3,500 1.5 liter bottle are too expensive.

They must boil piped water or groundwater to rid
it of impurities and make it safe to drink. It’s
become an even more expensive commodity since last
year’s rise in price of the liquid natural gas and
kerosene used to boil the water.

There are two water supply operators — PT Thames
Pam Jaya (TPJ) and PT Pam Lyonaisse Jaya (Palyja)
— who were appointed by the city administration
to take care of water supply and distribution.
Both serve 700,000 households. Palyja serves
customers in western Jakarta, while TPJ supplies
water to the city’s east.

TPJ water production manager Sri W. Kaderi
acknowledged that water supplied to customers’
houses was still far from potable quality although
the company strived to make it as clean as
possible.

"Many things happen on the way to customers’
houses. We can directly drink water here at the
production center but because of aging rusty pipes
and, in many cases, holes in several pipes, water
at the customers’ houses must be boiled," he said.

Palyja’s senior commissioner Bernard Lafrogne said
most pipes used to distribute water to customers
were installed during the Dutch administration —
meaning they are about 200 years old — and it
would take time for the companies to upgrade them.

Of the total of 4,300 kilometers of the old tap
water networks, Palyja has managed to replace 690
kilometers, while TPJ has repaired 159 kilometers
since its operations in the capital began in 1998.
Their contracts require them to repair or change
the pipes until 2020.

Despite the aging pipes, both Sri and Lafrogne
said there were regular checks of the system,
jointly carried out by the companies, PAM Jaya and
the Jakarta Health Agency.

**********

Don’t target Chinese, SBY tells officials

Jakarta Post - February 5, 2006

Tony Hotland, Jakarta — President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono reassured the public Saturday that
Chinese-Indonesians were legally recognized and
their constitutional rights guaranteed by the
state, therefore, any acts of discrimination
against them must be stopped.

Speaking before some 5,000 Confucians in a
gathering to celebrate Chinese New Year in
Jakarta, he called on them to work together to
integrate and to close the existing gap with other
members of society.

In the same event, Indonesian Confucian High
Council chairman Budi S. Tanuwibowo said
Confucians were still deprived of their basic
rights, such as to have their marriages
recognized, to have access to lessons in
Confucianism at school for their children and to
have their religion printed on their identity
cards.

"We hope President Susilo’s administration will
make this real since the government’s commitment
to say “No” to discrimination still has to be
demonstrated," he said.

Yudhoyono acknowledged the complaints over
discriminatory acts against Chinese-Indonesians
with regards citizenship, nationality, religious
rituals and marriages.

Despite the state recognition of Chinese-
Indonesians, officials at the lower bureaucratic
levels and common people were still adjusting to
the changes, he said.

"This is a sociological phase that requires time
and hard work on the part of the government and
collective goodwill," the President said. He
promised that the government, based on Law No.
22/2003, would facilitate access to Confucianist
lessons at schools in the near future.

Yudhoyono asserted that marriages conducted in the
Confucianist tradition were legally recognized,
therefore, there was no reason for government
officials not to record them in the Civil Registry
Office.

"The law acknowledges Confucianism as one of the
religions in Indonesia, and in principle the state
guarantees the freedom of their followers to
practice their religious duties. There’s no need
to fear and no reason to say you’re being
discriminated against," he said.

The President also told the Chinese-Indonesians to
continue sharing with less fortunate members of
the public, including victims of natural
disasters. "This surely will help the integration
process, which in turn will create the glory of
this nation," Yudhoyono said.

This year’s celebration of Chinese New Year known
as Imlek, which fell on Jan. 29, was the seventh
after former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid
rescinded Presidential Instruction No. 14/1967 in
2000 that banned such an event from being openly
celebrated. Abdurrahman’s successor Megawati
Soekarnoputri followed suit by declaring the
Chinese New Year a national holiday.

State officials attending Saturday’s ceremony at
the Jakarta Convention Center included Religious
Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni, Home Affairs
Minister M. Ma’ruf, Tourism Minister Jero Wacik,
Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare
Aburizal Bakrie, House of Representatives Speaker
Agung Laksono, Constitutional Court chief Jimly
Asshiddiqie and Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso.

Also in attendance were Gus Dur, who is also a
former Nahdlatul Ulama leader, Muhammadiyah
chairman Din Syamsuddin, Indonesian Hindu Dharma
Council chairman I.N. Suwandha, Indonesian
Communion of Churches chairman A.A. Yewangoe and
Indonesian Bishops Conference chairman Cardinal
Julius Darmaatmadja.

**********

Militant mastermind hiding in Indonesia - police

Reuters - February 3, 2006

Jakarta — One of Southeast Asia’s most wanted
militants is hiding in Indonesia’s Central Java
province, police said on Friday as they declared
more suspects in attacks on the holiday island of
Bali last October.

Deputy national police spokesman Brigadier-General
Anton Bahrul Alam said police had arrested 12
suspects for their involvement in last year’s
October 1 suicide bombings on restaurants in Bali,
which killed 20 people.

Alam said four people who had been arrested in
Bali were directly linked to the bombings, while
the others, detained in Central Java province,
were named as suspects for helping hide accused
militant mastermind Noordin M. Top. Asked whether
Malaysian-born Top was still in Central Java
province, Alam said: "Of course. Where else would
he run?"

Top is blamed for helping mastermind a series of
bombings in Indonesia in recent years, including
the 2005 Bali attacks carried out by three suicide
bombers with backpacks, and attacks in Bali three
years earlier that left 202 people dead.

Police said last week that Top, already identified
as a senior player in Southeast Asian militant
network Jemaah Islamiah, had more recently
proclaimed himself leader of a group called Tanzim
Qaedat al-Jihad, or Organisation for the Basis of
Jihad. Jemaah Islamiah is considered a regional
arm of al Qaeda, and police said the new group
might have an al Qaeda link as well.

Top worked closely in Indonesia with fellow
Malaysian Azahari bin Husin, who was killed in a
police raid on his East Java hideout in November.

On Friday, Alam said documents seized late last
year after the October Bali bombings laid out
plans for terror attacks on densely populated Java
island, but he gave no further details.

Police say Top is an expert in recruiting young
suicide bombers among Indonesia’s impoverished
masses.

**********

Students protest possible power hike

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Bandung — Emotions ran high during a protest
Wednesday outside the provincial council building
and governor’s office here against a proposal by
state power firm PT PLN to raise electricity
rates.

The protesters, from Bandung Institute of
Technology and the Association of Islamic Students
(HMI), burned several tires outside the gates of
the building. When police used fire extinguishers
to put out the blaze, the wind blew the spray from
the extinguishers toward the protesters. Soon,
several students were involved in a physical clash
with officers, though no one was seriously
injured.

A member of HMI, Vino, criticized the proposal to
raise power rates, accusing the government of
ignoring the poor. He also called for an
investigation into the finances of PLN. "(The
planned hike) spells death for the poor, who are
already suffering due to the fuel price
increases," he said.

**********

Government pushes ahead with broadcasting rules

Jakarta Post - February 1, 2006

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta — Defying
opposition from lawmakers and media groups, the
government says it will enforce a new regulation
that bans local broadcasters from directly
relaying news from foreign TV and radio stations.

"The government regulation will be enforced on
Feb. 5 to avoid lawlessness in the broadcasting
industry," State Minister of Communications and
Information Sofyan Djalil said Monday during a
meeting with the House of Representatives.

Sofyan said there were more than 1,000 companies
waiting for broadcasting licenses, which could not
be approved until the regulation was implemented.

Legislators and broadcasting organizations have
demanded that the information ministry delay
implementing the regulation, pending talks with
the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) to
discuss possible revisions.

Sofyan said the government was willing to talk to
the KPI to revise several articles in the
regulation that were deemed controversial.

The regulation will take effect two months after
the government first agreed to postpone its
implementation, following a meeting with
legislators last month.

KPI deputy chairman S. Sinansari Ecip has
threatened to file a judicial review with the
Supreme Court to stop the regulation becoming
policy.

The government ruling is based on the 2002
Broadcasting Law. That law is expected to be
revised after protests from the KPI and other
critics, who said it was unclear and could have
multiple interpretations.

Contentious issues in the regulation include
stopping local electronic media from directly
relaying news provided by foreign agencies, and an
article reviving the information ministry’s power
to issue broadcasting licenses.

Many radio and TV stations in the country
broadcast news and current affairs programs from a
range of international sources, including the BBC,
Voice of America, Radio Australia, Deutsche Welle
of Germany and Radio Hilversum of the Netherlands.

Shortwave programming by BBC and VOA stations will
not be affected by the ban, nor will it affect
foreign content on satellite news and cable
channels or the Internet.

Several legislators and broadcasting associations
have criticized the regulation as “repressive”,
saying it could be misused to curb press freedom
in Indonesia. They say the independent KPI, not
the information ministry, should be granted the
authority to issue broadcasting licenses.

Dedi Djamaluddin, a legislator from the National
Mandate Party, likened the current information
ministry to “the past Deppen”, the repressive New
Order ministry, which often revoked broadcasters
and publishers’ licenses when they criticized the
government.

"Why doesn’t (the minister) talk with the KPI
first and finish (the revisions) a month before
implementing the controversial regulation? This
would be reasonable," he said.

Sofyan, however, said he planned to issue another
ministerial decree to allow radio and TV stations
to edit foreign programs before they were
broadcast.

Officials at Sofyan’s office said the KPI should
not be given the power to license broadcasters
because they didn’t want the independent
commission “to become the next”Deppen".

**********

Military chief apologizes over ’improper act’

Jakarta Post - February 1, 2006

Jongker Rumteh, Manado — Wirabuana Military
Commander Maj. Gen. Arief Budi Sampurno apologized
Monday to the press for the actions of one of his
soldiers who struck a reporter covering a weekend
clash between members of the local combat
detachment and Manado Police.

"I apologize to the press over the improper
behavior during the news coverage," Sampurno said
when receiving a group of people, including
reporters, who staged a protest over the incident
in front of the Army barracks in Manado.

One soldier was killed and six police officers
seriously injured when a police truck rammed into
a crowd of people during a dispute between
military troops and police officers in Manado in
the early hours of Sunday.

During the incident another soldier seized a
camera and struck Wennsy Pantouw, a cameraman at
Indosiar TV station, who later sought medical
treatment for his injuries.

Sampurno, who oversees security in Sulawesi, said
he supported the protesters’ demand to halt
violence against the press. "The role of the media
is very important because through the media all
information can be disseminated. I fully support
freedom of the press," Sampurno said as quoted by
Antara.

He promised to take stern action against the
soldier. "We have to abide by the law... whether
the decision will lead to his discharge or not...
everything will be processed in accordance with
current regulations and will be done as
transparently as possible," he said.

He also said he would cover all medical expenses
and other losses incurred during the incident.

Sampurno said an investigation into the clash
between the soldiers and police officers would be
conducted jointly by the Indonesian Military and
the National Police.

"That’s why I have come to Manado, to cooperate
with the North Sulawesi Police regarding the
investigation of the incident," he said, declining
to provide a chronology of the incident.

Sampurno’s spokesman, Maj. Rustam Effendi, earlier
said the dispute started after a group of
policemen riding motorcycles accidentally hit Army
soldier Second Sgt. Husni Daud.

This sparked a response from Husni’s comrades.
Another soldier, Julius, demanded an explanation
from the police but was not satisfied with the
response, according to Rustam. A policeman then
fired a shot into the air, drawing the attention
of local residents, Rustam said.

Minutes later, a police truck appeared and smashed
into a crowd of people at the scene, killing
Second Sgt. Ferly Ahmad and seriously injuring six
policemen.

Sampurno said his military command had questioned
seven witnesses — three soldiers and four
civilians.

 ACEH

Opposition to amended draft Aceh law growing

Aceh Kita - February 7, 2006

M Isma & Saiful Bahri, Banda Aceh —
Demonstrations “opposing” the Home Affairs
Department’s revisions to the Draft Law on a
Government for Aceh (RUU-PA) are continuing and
spreading. This time it was the turn of Student
Solidarity for the People (SMUR) and the Bireuen
Civil Society Alliance (AGSB) to protest the draft
law that they say fails to accommodate the
aspirations of the Acehnese people.

The action on Monday February 6 was the third
recorded in Aceh since the Department of Home
Affairs submitted the draft law to the House of
Representatives (DPR). Protests have sprung up
because demonstrators believe the government has
ignored the aspirations contained in the Acehnese
people’s version of the RUU-PA.

During the action, SMUR secretary general Rahmat
Djailani urged that the RUU-PA become the basis
for the welfare and justice for the Acehnese
people. According to Djailani, the omission of 37
articles by the government indicates a blocking of
the development of a people’s democracy and the
nationalisation of mineral, energy and other
natural resources.

Djailani accused the national political elite of
being unwilling for Aceh’s natural resources to be
enjoyed and managed by the Acehnese people. "What
is in their minds is how Aceh’s natural resources
can continue to be taken away leaving the Acehnese
people to remain in poverty", he said.

In relation to this issue, SMUR is calling for the
RUU-PA to be able to guarantee the welfare of the
Acehnese people. This can be fulfilled if the
government includes all of the articles that had
already been discussed by Acehnese society
beforehand.

SMUR’s position he told journalists after giving a
speech is to reject the version of the RUU-PA that
does not included the articles on independent
candidates and the nationalisation of mineral,
energy and other natural resources in Aceh. "These
two points or these articles are a prerequisite
for the welfare of the people", he said.

SMUR he said is calling on the Acehnese people not
to no longer trust the old political elite, the
remnants of the New Order regime that have
transformed themselves into various new forms. It
is for this reason that they are calling on the
Acehnese people to prepare themselves to confront
future efforts to impoverish them.

Bireuen

In Bireuen meanwhile, it was reported that
hundreds of demonstrators from AGSB also protested
the central government’s actions in trimming away
the aspirations of the Acehnese people.

In a statement the Alliance strongly rejected the
cutting down of the RUU-PA so that it no longer
contains the substantial demands of the Acehnese
people such as independent candidates and the
authority of an Acehnese government. They also
condemned the arrogant attitude of the political
elite in the government and the DPR who do not
wish for the Acehnese to be safe, affluent and
dignified.

The Alliance appealed to the Acehnese people not
to use their right to vote in the elections of the
next Acehnese governor later this year if the
substance of the people’s aspirations are not
accommodated in the RUU-PA. Nevertheless, the
Alliance called on the people to monitor the
discussions of the RUU-PA and to safeguard the
peace that has been created in Aceh. In addition
to this the Alliance is urging the Aceh Monitoring
Mission (AMM) to actively participate in
monitoring the discussion phase of the draft law
as mandated by Point 5.2e in the Memorandum of
Understanding between the Free Aceh Movement and
the Indonesian Government.

The demonstration by AGSB started in Peusangan.
They then went to the AMM representative offices
in Bireuen and then to the Regional House of
Representatives (DPRD) by bus. On arriving at the
parliament they were confronted by a blockade of
police officers. In front of the DPRD they held
speeches and called on the members of the DPRD to
meet with them.

"If we cannot all fit into the air-conditioned
chamber, then we ask the members of the DPRD to
come down and hear our statement, that will later
be faxed to the president of Indonesia, the
Minister of Home Affairs, the DPR and the Acehnese
DPRD", shouted Fuadi though a microphone.

A number of assembly members then met with the
demonstrators. "We have already spoken with the
leaders [of the demonstration], and we have
submitted their statement to the secretariat to be
faxed to the parties they requested", explained
Murdani Yusuf, the head of the Bireuen DPRD’s
Commission A. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

Government warned of destroying trust in Aceh

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2006

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta — The House of
Representatives has yet to start deliberating the
bill on Aceh’s future governance but opposition
and criticism of its contents have already been
voiced.

The objections mainly revolve around the
government’s decision to drop a number of articles
proposed by the Aceh legislative council from the
bill the government submitted to the House for
deliberation late last month.

Apart from the controversial issue of independent
candidates, the criticism has also been focused on
lack of clarity over the definition of Aceh’s
territory.

While the Aceh council’s version of the bill
stipulates that Aceh’s territory is as defined on
July 1, 1956, and in accordance with the truce
signed by the government and the Free Aceh
Movement (GAM) last August in Finland, the Home
Affairs Ministry’s bill allows for the possible
splitting of Aceh into several provinces.

The government-drafted bill also allows for the
creation of new regencies in Aceh. "It (the
partition) will likely shatter the process of
trust-building process between the government and
GAM," said Agung Wijaya, a member of the Aceh
Democracy Network.

He said the move also showed that the central
government wanted to maintain its control over the
resource-rich province. "The evidence on this
issue is very clear," he said over the weekend.

The partition of Aceh is accommodated in Article 5
of the bill, which states, "the establishment,
abolition and the merger of
regencies/municipalities, districts and villages
shall be carried out in accordance with law".

Agung said that this allowed the central
government to carve new provinces out of Aceh’s
territory without seeking the approval of the Aceh
legislative council.

Indra J. Piliang, a researcher with the Centre for
Strategic and International Studies (CSIS),
expressed a similar view, saying that allowing the
partition of Aceh would destroy trust building the
government and the former GAM insurgents. "Don’t
let this bill give rise to new conflict in Aceh,"
he said.

Demands for the establishment of two new provinces
in Aceh resurfaced last year after the signing of
the truce that ended three decades of separatist
fighting.

While the proponents of the creation of an Aceh
Leuser Antara (ALA) province started their
campaign in 2000, those supporting the
establishment of a Southwest Aceh (ABS) province
only announced their plan last year.

If formed, ALA would comprise Central Aceh,
Southeast Aceh, Aceh Singkil, Gayo Lues and Bener
Meriah regencies, while Southwest Aceh would
consist of South Aceh, Northwest Aceh, Aceh Jaya,
Semuelue and Nagan Raya regencies. Currently, Aceh
is divided into 20 regencies and municipalities.

Last week, supporters of ALA and ABS visited the
House and met with a number of legislators. They
appear to be determined to engineer the partition
of Aceh, although many at the grassroots level are
not interested in the issue.

Agung said people in both areas, who are still
struggling to survive after the tsunami that
devastated Aceh late in 2004, are more interested
in questions like better welfare, more justice and
peace-building. "The (partition) issue has been
concocted by local political elites seeking
power," he said.

Home Affairs Minister M. Ma’ruf refused to comment
on the possible partition of Aceh, saying that he
would not make any statement pending the bill’s
deliberation.

**********

Kalla opposes independents

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2006

Banda Aceh — Vice President Jusuf Kalla says he
opposes the inclusion of a clause in the bill on
governance in Aceh that would allow independent
candidates to run for public posts.

Kalla insisted Sunday the issue of independent
political candidates was not specifically dealt
with in the peace deal the Indonesian government
and the Free Aceh Movement signed in Helsinki last
year.

"The peace agreement allows the Acehnese extensive
political participation, but there is no specific
clause that guarantees independent candidates the
right to contest direct elections," Kalla said
during a meeting with senior Acehnese leaders.

Independent candidates was proposed by the Aceh
provincial legislative council. The bill on
governance in Aceh has been submitted by the
government to the House of Representatives in
Jakarta for deliberation.

"People in Aceh do not need to worry the future
law (on governance in Aceh) will deviate from the
Helsinki agreement," Kalla said as quoted by
Antara news agency.

**********

Aceh law may spur fresh demands but no serious threat

Agence France Presse - February 5, 2006

Bhimanto Suwastoyo, Jakarta — Indonesia’s
parliament is set to scrutinize a draft law
granting war-torn Aceh unprecedented autonomy,
which may spur demands from other regions for
similar deals but poses no serious threat,
analysts say.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000
islands that are home to people speaking hundreds
of languages, has battled separatist grumblings in
its far-flung corners since it proclaimed
independence from the Dutch in 1945.

The contentious Aceh law, the next stage of a
peace process hurried along by the 2004 tsunami
tragedy which killed some 165,000 Acehnese, sees
Indonesia make the greatest concessions yet in
order to preserve its borders peacefully.

After nearly three decades of bloody separatist
conflict, Indonesia signed a peace pact with the
Free Aceh Movement (GAM) last August guaranteeing
the staunchly-Muslim province at the tip of
Sumatra island sweeping autonomy.

GAM agreed to drop its demand for independence in
return for, among other concessions, the right to
form local political parties — something that is
banned elsewhere in the archipelago to discourage
separatism.

But not everyone was pleased with the deal, to be
codified in the draft law. Parliament is due to
form a commission to discuss it on Tuesday.

Opposition has been fierce among some lawmakers,
whose feathers were already ruffled by the
government’s failure to consult them over the
August pact. They say Jakarta may have gone too
far in its compromises.

In particular they fear that provinces such as
resource-rich Papua, at the opposite end of
Indonesia thousands of kilometres away, could try
to use the pact as a model for themselves.

"It’s very possible. (The law) could have effects
on other regions," Sidharto Danusubroto, a member
of the nationalist opposition Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle, told AFP.

He said his party, led by former president
Megawati Sukarnoputri, was "meticulously studying
the draft law to make sure it will not go against
our national laws and constitution."

Amir Santoso, from the University of Indonesia,
agreed that the passage of the law, not yet fully
revealed to the public, could "see other regions
queuing to make similar demands."

Papua was only incorporated into Indonesia in the
1960s. Pro-independence sentiment, fueled by
rights abuses and annoyance over funds from
resources flowing to Jakarta, mean it remains a
potential flashpoint. "Our nation is still
politically immature and this is where the problem
may lay," Santoso warned.

Nationalists are still smarting from the 1999 loss
of East Timor, which voted for independence in the
tumultuous aftermath of the resignation of ex-
president Suharto, who ruled with an iron fist for
more than three decades.

Syamsuddin Harris, a political researcher at the
Indonesian Institute for Sciences, said that while
other regions may be encouraged to make demands,
none have as strong a case to make as Aceh for
special concessions.

Besides a history of resistance stretching back
centuries — including nearly 40 years of battling
the Dutch — the province was granted special
territory status in the early 1960s. It proved to
be a paper concession.

And, Harris said, the Aceh pact involved the
mediation of foreigners and has the support of the
international community.

"And this makes honoring the pact a national
obligation," he said, adding that a 2002 autonomy
law, which decentralises much of Jakarta’s power
to local administrations, should be enough to
address grievances elsewhere.

Azyumardi Azra, chancellor of the Higher State
Institute for Islamic Sciences, said this 2002 law
covers most points disputed in the Aceh bill. One
exception is the article on local political
parties.

Under Indonesian law, parties must be based in
Jakarta and have branches in more than half the
country’s 33 provinces but Aceh will be exempted
from this.

"What everyone should remember is that, if there
are separatist aspirations, they will clearly not
be because of the existence of the local political
parties, but rather to injustice and inequalities
in policies," Azra said.

The University of Indonesia’s Santoso added that
with or without Aceh, greater autonomy needs to be
granted to the regions under the law in any case.

"For a country as large as ours, I don’t think
greater autonomy for the regions will break up our
unity. On the contrary," he said, noting that
areas where separatist sentiment could flare now
enjoyed autonomy — at least in laws on paper.
“Just implement them to the letter,” he added.

**********

Aceh draft law set for parliament test

Reuters - February 4, 2006

Achmad Sukarsono, Jakarta — A draft law aimed at
cementing a peace deal between Indonesia and
rebels in Aceh province will be debated for the
first time in parliament this week, with
legislators facing a tight deadline to pass it.

Under the August 15 pact, Indonesia must approve
laws by March 31 that give Aceh control of most of
its affairs and former rebels of the Free Aceh
Movement (GAM) the chance to form a local
political party to compete in direct elections.

Creating the law is the next biggest step after
GAM disarmed in December and Indonesia pulled tens
of thousands of troop and police reinforcements
from Aceh.

But analysts say political challenges lie ahead
for the draft, which could strain a landmark peace
deal that ended three decades of war which killed
15,000 people.

The draft has gone through numerous deliberations
in Aceh and Jakarta. The version submitted to
parliament and obtained by Reuters, has watered
down some of GAM’s proposals, including one that
would have allowing Aceh to join the United
Nations.

If passed — and nationalist opposition to the
peace deal was high in parliament — the draft
document will hand Aceh more powers than any
province in Indonesia.

According to the peace deal, Aceh’s first direct
elections should take place in April 2006, to
elect a governor.

The draft stipulates local political parties can
be set up as long as they have branches in half of
Aceh’s districts and towns. But the draft says
setting up these parties needs time, with further
regulations to be drawn up before February 2007.

This is in line with the Finnish-mediated peace
deal that says the Indonesian government has 18
months from the signing to create an environment
for local parties to function.

Analysts say the government does not want GAM
members running for office before that time, which
means only existing parties can put forward
candidates for the governor’s job.

"The government clearly does not want GAM to lead
the region. They want to see a local rival to GAM
(have time to form) first," said analyst Indra
Jaya Piliang from the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Jakarta.

No Aceh-based group is as ready as GAM to run for
Aceh’s top office, which will only be up for grabs
again in 2011.
Contentious issue

Allowing local parties is sensitive because it
contravenes an existing law requiring all
political parties to have branches in more than
half of Indonesia’s 33 provinces.

Analysts say while the government supports local
parties for Aceh — which would include ones that
would challenge GAM — it wants to avoid a fight
in parliament that could jeopardize efforts to
pass the bill by March 31.

GAM in turn has said the draft ignored one of its
key proposals — letting independent candidates
run in April — which would have allowed former
GAM members to run for governor.

"Why should they block this proposal? There are
many in Aceh who do not want to funnel their
aspirations through the existing political
parties," said Teungku Kamaruzzaman, a former GAM
negotiator who was freed from prison after the
peace deal.

He argued that an article in the truce saying "the
people of Aceh will have the right to nominate
candidates" for all elected offices meant
independent candidates must be allowed.

GAM is not alone as Acehnese students, academics
and pressure groups want fresh faces to be able to
run as independents in the devout Muslim province
on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

However, some political parties in Indonesia’s
fractious parliament that will debate the draft
are the same ones which have blocked public
demands to let independent candidates run in any
Indonesian election.

"These parties are afraid of losing their grip in
the regions if independent candidates are allowed.
In Aceh, GAM or independent candidates mean
suicide for existing parties," said analyst
Muhammad Qodari of the Indonesian Survey
Institute.

GAM and Indonesia’s government signed the peace
deal after months of negotiations spurred by the
December 2004 tsunami that smashed into Indian
Ocean coastlines. That disaster left around
170,000 Acehnese dead or missing.

**********

Acehnese may have chance to field independents

Jakarta Post - February 4, 2006

Tony Hotland and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta
— The government and the House of Representatives
may allow independent candidates to contest local
elections in Aceh, although the issue is not in
the draft bill on Aceh governance.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who initiated the
peace talks between the government and the Free
Aceh Movement (GAM), said legislators would
explore the possibility of allowing independent
candidates, when they started to debate the bill
this month.

Kalla was responding to GAM’s concerns that the
bill drafted by the government did not include
clauses on independent candidates. The bill does
allow former GAM members to create independent
political parties to contest elections.

"It’s still a draft. The Helsinki peace accord
doesn’t specifically say anything about
independent candidates, although the clause 1.2.2
could lead in that direction," he said.

Clause 1.2.2 of the Memorandum of Understanding
signed by GAM and the government in August last
year, states that "upon the signature of this MOU,
the people of Aceh will have the right to nominate
candidates for the positions of all elected
officials to contest the elections in Aceh in
April 2006 and thereafter“.”We put in the bill only things that are
explicitly described in the MOU, and independent
candidates are not," Kalla said.

A lawmaker said Kalla had been in favor of
including independent candidates in the bill
before it was submitted to the House, but Home
Affairs Minister M. Ma’ruf disagreed.

Nasir Djamil of the Prosperous Justice Party, said
he had been informed that home affairs ministry
officials, who drafted the bill, failed to explain
it properly to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
prompting him to decide to drop the independent
candidacy clause but maintain the local party
clause.

Nasir gave his support Friday to the possibility
of independent candidates in Aceh elections, which
he said would give former GAM rebels more
opportunities to be involved in the political
process. "We will officially propose the clause
during the debate of the Aceh governing bill," he
said.

Golkar legislator Ferry Mursyidan Baldan said
central government should open the door to
independent candidates in local elections because
it would increase confidence in the peace deal.
"There is nothing to be afraid of. The move will
likely support the trust-building between the
government and GAM after the signing of the MOU,"
he said.

Indra J. Piliang of the Centre for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS) agreed. He said the
situation on the ground in Aceh along with the
likely time constraints meant it would be
difficult if not impossible for GAM to set up a
local political party to contest this year’s
regional elections.

However, the years of strife in the region meant
it was equally unlikely former GAM members would
want to join national-based political parties,
most of which had supported the government’s war
against GAM.

Currently, there are more than 18 vacant political
positions in Aceh, including the post of the
governor. The MOU stipulates that regional and
provincial elections in the province should be
held in April. However, the government has said
this date may have to be moved back to June or
July give the House more time to debate the bill.
Lawmakers have a March deadline to pass the
legislation.

GAM members have already made some preparations
for the regional elections, including selecting
likely candidates.

**********

Basic health and sanitation needs not met in Aceh

Associated Press - February 4, 2006

Margie Mason — More than a year after the tsunami
swallowed thousands of lives and homes in
Indonesia, many survivors still lack of basic
health and sanitation needs despite billions of
dollars in disaster aid, a new study found.

Children and those living on the remote island of
Simeulue — located closest to the epicenter of
the Dec. 26, 2004 earthquake — remained most
vulnerable, while access to clean drinking water
and proper sanitation continued to be poor in some
areas, according to the study published Friday by
the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey was conducted last July and August in
three districts of Aceh province. It found that 40
percent of the stored drinking water sampled was
contaminated and half of the children under 5
years old were anemic, while about 75 percent of
school-age children surveyed on Simeulue island
and in Aceh Besar district were infected with
intestinal parasites.

Dr. Endang Widyastuti, who overseas aid group CARE
International’s medical programs in Indonesia and
participated in the joint study with the CDC, said
many of the findings were not surprising, and that
awareness and intervention campaigns are in the
works.

“For the worm infection, it is no wonder,” she
said, referring to the many who remain homeless.
"These cases in Banda Aceh and Simeulue, it’s no
wonder because of the (poor) access to toilets and
the environment."

Access to toilets was lacking on Simeulue, with
more than 50 percent of households without
facilities, the survey found.

Widyastuti said a de-worming campaign is planned
and that mothers in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar
districts are being encouraged to breast feed to
help lessen anemia. A measles vaccination campaign
will also be conducted after the findings showed
poor coverage from an earlier push.

On Simeulue, where malnutrition was highest,
Widyastuti said logistics likely played a role.
More than 90 percent of the households surveyed
received some type of food aid, and more than half
also received nutritional supplements.

But she said distribution that came in the first
months following the tsunami trailed off because
aid workers’ efforts were diverted elsewhere.
Simeulue lost only a handful of its 75,000 people
to the waves, largely because most residents ran
to the hills after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake
because of stories passed down about a tsunami
that occurred there a century ago.

The bulk of the more than 131,000 people who died
in Indonesia were in the provincial capital, Banda
Aceh, but Simeulue lost the most homes — more
than 80 percent were partially or completely
destroyed by the tsunami or by the earthquake that
rocked neighboring Nias island last March.

**********

Student demo in Aceh almost ends in clash with police

Aceh Kita - February 3, 2006

Nasir Gabra, Lhokseumawe — A demonstration
launched by hundreds of Malikussaleh Lhokseumawe
University (Unimal) students almost ended in a
clash with police when they pushed and shoved each
other as students tried to break through the gates
of the North Aceh Regional House of
Representatives (DPRD) on Thursday February 2.

Earlier, the students had sat quietly presenting
speeches in front of the gate. The were demanding
that the DPRD’s special committee looking into
corruption at the Unimal Rectorate immediately
announce the results of the public.

"Several times the special committee has promised
it would announce [its] corruption findings at
Unimal, but to this day they have not fulfilled
this", asserted Idris, one of the students.

In the end he said, the special committed promised
it would hold a hearing on January 31 to announce
its findings. Because there was no hearing, on
January 1 [should read February 1 - JB] student
representatives again went to see the special
committee. "Nothing came out of the meeting, so
today we brought the students to demonstrate",
said Sofyan, a former secretary of the Unimal
Student Executive Council.

The students are now even accusing a member of the
North Aceh DPRD of also benefiting from corruption
at Unimal. It is because of this they say, that
the investigation by the special committee has
dragged on and the impression is that they are
reluctant to explain their findings to the public.

"We are truly deplore this, [they are] the people
that should control corruption, collusion and
nepotism, but they still have the mentality of
rats", shouted a student activist though a
megaphone.

Initially he said, the special committee had found
indications of financial irregularities at Unimal.
This included a greening project on the new
Reuleut campus valued at 330 million rupiah, a
bridge construction project and a campus ring road
costing 571 million rupiah, as well as indications
of the embezzlement of scholarship funds for 5,000
students budgeted at 500,000 rupiah per student.

"Not only that, there are still many indications
of the corruption of other funds at Unimal that
must be explained by the special committee. But
the special committee remains silent", he said.

In a statement the students called on the National
Education Minister not to issue an instruction for
the inauguration of the newly elected Unimal
rector until the various corruption cases are
dealt with legally.

The coordinator of the DPRD’s special team, Ridwan
Yunus, explained to the students that they have
hold a plenary session before being able to
announce the team’s findings to the public. In
order to do this there are specific procedures
that have to be followed and this requires time.
He asked the students therefore to be patient.
[dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

Komnas HAM asked to follow up grave findings in Aceh

Detik.com - February 2, 2006

Nur Raihan, Jakarta — The Commission for Missing
Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Aceh has
asked the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas
HAM) to follow up the finding of graves of victims
of the conflict in Aceh. Twenty-two graves have
been recorded containing 37 skeletons that have
been found since the Helsinki agreement was signed
in August.

This was related to journalists by the coordinator
of Kontras Aceh’s working body, Asiah, at the
Kontras offices in Aceh on Wednesday February 2.
Kontras has asked police to follow up the findings
and that they be involved in the process of
unearthing the graves.

"Our assumption is that the human rights
violations that occurred during the period of
martial law in Aceh are related to the finding of
these graves of victims of the Aceh conflict",
said Asiah.

The question is said Asiah, that in a number of
cases, the graves were found at former security
posts that had been occupied by non-organic TNI
(Indonesian military) troops and in a number of
other cases, the victims had been arrested or
abducted when the state of martial law was in
force.

"The condition of the skeletons that were found
generally indicate that there had been acts of
violence or torture. Of those who have been
identified they are usually reburied properly by
their families, but if not then hospital staff
bury them", he added.

Police have been asked to immediately secure grave
locations after receiving reports from local
people. "Moreover during the period of martial
law, Komnas HAM had already obtained reports of a
number of cases of abductions and arrests", added
Asiah.

This time the skeletons have been found spread
across various parts of Aceh such as Greater Aceh,
North Aceh, East Aceh, Aceh Tamiang, Bireun and
Central Aceh. (wiq)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

Indonesia dismisses tsunami rights abuse report

Reuters - February 2, 2006

Achmad Sukarsono, Jakarta — Indonesia, which
suffered the most from the Indian Ocean tsunami,
dismissed on Thursday a report that accused
several governments of failing to meet human
rights standards in relief efforts.

ActionAid International, the Habitat International
Coalition and the People’s Movement for Human
Rights Learning charged on Wednesday that while
the tsunami aid campaign had many successes, it
failed to ensure the rights of many of those
affected to food, clean water and a secure home
and livelihood.

Aburizal Bakrie, chief social welfare minister in
Indonesia, said the “the report sounds weird” to
anyone who had seen the scale of the devastation.

Killer waves triggered by a magnitude 9.15
earthquake off Indonesia’s Sumatra island slammed
into 13 Asian and African countries on December
26, 2004, flattening thousands of villages and
killing around 230,000 people.

In Indonesia’s Aceh province alone, the tsunami
left some 170,000 people dead or missing. The
report acknowledged the severity of the tragedy
but insisted failure to comply with human rights
standards would deepen the suffering of those who
survived the onslaught.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of Indonesia’s
reconstruction agency in Aceh, said human rights
had always been upheld. "I know we have holes here
and there. I know some houses don’t have
sanitation or electricity. I know that some of the
displaced have not received their daily stipends,“he said.”But I live in Aceh and I know there is
no human rights violation against the displaced."

Women ignored?

Indonesia was particularly unhappy by accusations
it had ignored women’s rights in relocation
efforts. "In an emergency situation there is no
immediate plan or script to give women different
treatment. If women must stay with male survivors
together in tents, that’s how it is," said Bakrie.

Womens groups in Aceh have said female survivors
who lost male relatives had been subject to sexual
harassment in temporary wooden barracks.

"Rights abuses on women are not seen as offences
in Aceh," said Mia Emsa, head of the Aceh Gender
Transformation Working Group, referring to the
traditionally higher status accorded to men and
the devout nature of Islam in the province.

"When we try to seek our rights we are seen as
troublesome." Her group wanted a clear allocation
for female needs in the reconstruction budget, she
added. Kuntoro said the building of female-only
bathrooms and rest areas for the displaced was
high on his agenda.

Nearly $14 billion has been pledged by donors to
rebuild the affected regions since the disaster,
which drove 2 million people from their homes,
deprived 1.5 million of their livelihoods and
destroyed some 400,000 houses worldwide.

But hundreds of thousands of survivors are still
living in substandard shelters without adequate
health care, said the report, based on visits to
more than 50,000 people in Indonesia, Thailand,
Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India in November
2005.

Besides Indonesia’s case on women rights, the
report highlighted discrimination in aid
distribution, government-backed land grabs and
arbitrary arrests in the four other countries.

In Sri Lanka, where the tsunami hit communities
already affected by the island’s two-decade long
civil war, aid workers say aid distribution
sometimes deepened existing divisions between
minority Tamils and Muslims and the majority
Sinhalese.

"In some villages, you see someone who has been
affected by the tsunami and they’re getting lots
of aid while in the same village you get someone
who is war affected, who has spent 20 years
without a house, gets nothing," one aid worker
said. Chris Lom from the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) in Bangkok said
it was obvious many people would suffer long-term
privations as a result of such a massive disaster
— but that governments were not exclusively to
blame.

"The horrible situation is that, yes, there are
still a lot of people living in tents. But it was
a jolt to everybody how unprepared they were —
not just the governments," he said.

[Additional reporting by Telly Nathalia in
Jakarta, Ed Cropley in Bangkok and Peter Apps in
Colombo.]

**********

Students protest omissions in Aceh draft law

Detik.com - February 1, 2006

Nur Raihan, Banda Aceh — The Acehnese Alliance of
Private College Student Executive Councils (BEM
PTS) believes that the Draft Law on a Government
for Aceh that was submitted to the to the House of
Representatives by the Home Affairs Department has
disappointed the Acehnese people.

How is it that a number of extremely important
points have been omitted such as the removal of
the opportunity for independent candidates to
participate in the coming election of regional
heads.

In order to protest this, the alliance even
organised a demonstration. The action was held in
front of the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the
Simpang Lima area and at the offices of the Aceh
Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on
Wednesday February 1. Demonstrators called on the
central government not to destroy and emasculate
the rights and aspirations of the Acehnese people.

The other article they say has been tinkered with
by the Home Affairs Department is the one that
specifies the demarcation of Aceh’s boarders in
accordance with the July 1, 1956 agreement. In
addition to this they are urging that the sharing
of economic benefits also refer to the Helsinki
Memorandum of Understanding and that Aceh’s entire
regional revenue be managed by the Acehnese
government.

The deputy speaker of the DPRD, Raihan Iskandar —
who met with students in the grounds of the DPRD
building — said that there are indeed several
issues that need to be straightened out in the
draft law. "For example on the demarcation of
boarders, after it was checked with the central
government, there is no state gazette that refers
to this matter. We have also looked in the Syiah
Kuala University Faculty of Law [archives], it’s
also not there. But what is important, is that
Aceh essentially remains as it is now. We will
continue the struggle", he said.

Meanwhile the head of the special commission that
drafted the law, Azhari Basar, explained that they
would continue to struggle so that the law is in
accordance with the hopes of the Acehnese people
that we still see as tied to sectoral laws. But we
will struggle for the draft law [not to be
amended]", he said.

Basar along with other members of the DPRD will
also be meeting with a number of leaders of
political parities and public figures. "So that
that they support the draft that we submitted",
explained Basar — who is also the head of the
Golkar Party fraction in the DPRD — when speaking
to journalists after meeting with the students.

Basar explained that in his meeting with the vice
president not long ago, independent candidates
were to be accommodated in the draft law however
they will only be given one chance to participate
in the election of regional heads. "We do not want
our rights to be predicated by the central
[government] whereas there had already been prior
discussion [on the matter]. Don’t let the peace
process be destroyed again by the central
government", he asserted. (nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

Student oppose removal of articles in draft law

Aceh Kita - February 1, 2006

Adi W and Radzie, Banda Aceh — Hundreds of
students from the Acehnese Alliance of Private
Collage Student Executive Councils (Aliansi BEM
PTS Aceh) held a demonstration on Wednesday
February 1 protesting the central government’s
removal of a number of crucial articles in the
Draft Law on a Government for Aceh (RUU-PA).

The students from eight private colleges had been
gathering at the City Park in front of the
Baiturrahman Great Mosque since 9am. After the
demonstrators had all arrived, the students
marched off in the direction of the Simpang Lima
roundabout guarded by personnel from the Banda
Aceh municipal police.

The demonstrators brought a number of banners that
protested the Department of Home Affairs
distortion of around 37 articles from the draft
law that was submitted by the Aceh Regional House
of Representatives (DPRD), the provincial
government, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and
Acehnese society. One large banner read "Central
government don’t emasculate the aspirations of the
Acehnese people in the RUU-PA".

After giving speeches at the Simpang Lima
roundabout, demonstrators then moved off to the
Aceh DPRD located on Jalan Teungku Muhammad Daud
Beureu-eh. There they were greeted by Azhari Basar
and Raihan Iskandar from the Special Committee
XVIII that formulated the draft law after
conducting a test of its worthiness and
accommodating the aspirations of GAM and Acehnese
society.

Riswan Haris, the president of the Acehnese
Muhammadiyah University Student Government, said
that the desires of the Acehnese people that were
recorded in the draft law and submitted by the
Acehnese legislator to Jakarta must be included
without distortion. "All of the articles that were
removed must be reinserted, because these
represent the aspirations of Acehnese society as a
whole", he said in a speech.

A similar sentiment was conveyed by Aliansi BEM
PTS coordinator Zirhan. According to Zirhan, the
students reject the unilateral revisions carried
out by the central government to the draft law.
"[If] not all of it is applied, it will be in
serious contradiction with the aspirations of the
Acehnese people", he said.

Zirhan said that Acehnese students are determined
to monitor all of the stages of the discussion on
the draft law that is currently at the national
House of Representatives (DPR). If the government
does not immediately reinsert the articles that
were removed, the students will put pressure on
the government. “We will continue monitoring”, he
said adding that this demonstration is the first
action held to oversee the discussions on the
draft law in parliament.

Basar meanwhile said that the draft that they
submitted to Jakarta represents a commitment by
Acehnese society as a whole and is in accordance
with the points agreed to by GAM and the
Indonesian government in the Helsinki memorandum
of understanding. “We will continue the struggle”,
he said. "Such as independent candidates, we will
continue defend this for the sake of the peace
process in Aceh".

He promised to try to straighten out these
problems with the central government. Members of
the Aceh council are currently discussing the
removal of the articles from the draft law and
will later depart for Jakarta and meet with
Acehnese members of the DPR. "We will continued to
endeavor that the draft law is not ruined by the
central [government]", said Iskandar before the
assembled students.

As reported by Aceh Kita, Teuku Kamaruzzaman, one
of the members of the team that formulated the
draft law from GAM, has admitted his surprise
after finding out that many articles in the draft
law submitted by the DPRD, GAM and Acehnese civil
society were trimmed down by the central
government. "Now, after we had evaluated the draft
that was then submitted [to the government] why
has it suddenly been trimmed down like this", said
Kamaruzzaman at a press conference in Banda Aceh
on the afternoon of Monday February 1. "We object
to this".

There are 37 articles in the draft law submitted
to the DPR that that are considered crucial and
were scratched out by the government. Other
changes that have been protested by GAM are those
to Article 144 on the authority of the Acehnese
government to calculate and determine the central
government and the Acehnese government’s share of
state revenue that comes from natural resources,
oil and gas and other sources. According to Ampon
Man, the removal of this article indicates that
the distribution and calculation of natural
resource revenue will still be regulated by the
central government.

In addition to this, the draft law submitted by
the government to the DPR states that the national
general allocation funds (DAU) to be provided by
the government over a period of ten years would
only be one percent. Whereas in the draft law that
was submitted by Aceh it referred to a permanent
DAU of as much as five percent. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

Activists decry illegal fees for Aceh-bound timber

Jakarta Post - February 1, 2006

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, Jakarta — Activists demanded
Monday that North Sumatra authorities put a stop
to illegal fees imposed during transportation of
imported timber from Medan to Nanggroe Aceh
Darussalam.

They said the shaking down of volunteers would
erode international donor confidence in Indonesia
and delay the reconstruction of the province from
the devastating tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004.

Ramadhana Lubis from the Indonesian Forum for the
Environment (Walhi) told The Jakarta Post trucks
transporting imported timber were forced to pay up
to Rp 7 million (about US$747) in total at 27
security checkpoints between the North Sumatra
port of Belawan and Aceh regency of Meulaboh. He
added the amount was almost the same as the truck
rental of Rp 8 million.

"Volunteers pay the fees because they do not want
to see their work delayed, although they know they
will find it difficult to account for it in their
financial reports," he said. NGO sources say the
practice involves police officers, military
personnel and forest police at security
checkpoints.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Bahrul
Alam said his office had not received any official
report about illegal fees. "Any officers caught
red-handed will be arrested," he said.

WWF Aceh program coordinator Nana Fitriana Firman
said she reported the practice to the Aceh-Nias
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR).
"BRR is just as confused as we are. They don’t
know what to do. As an agency directly under the
President, it should have the power to eliminate
the practices," she said.

Nana feared the demanding of illegal fees would
lead to a slowdown in reconstruction because local
supplies were insufficient. "BRR is determined to
speed up the reconstruction from 2006 to 2007, but
how could this happen if the illegal practices are
not stopped?"

BRR director of donor and international relations
Heru Prasetyo claimed the agency had no authority
to stop the practice. "We have already reported
the problem to National Police chief Gen.
Sutanto," he said.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Oxfam and
French-based Primiere Urgent are the biggest
organizations importing timber among the many
helping in the reconstruction. BRR estimates
Aceh’s reconstruction will need about 1 million
cubic meters of wood to build 120,000 houses from
2005 through 2009.

The policy to import wood is meant to help
conserve local forests amid rampant illegal
logging. Indonesia loses about 3 million hectares
in annual deforestation, mostly caused by illegal
logging, official statistics shows.

 WEST PAPUA

Foreign media ban in Papua to be maintained: Juwono

Agence France Presse - February 6, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesia will maintain a ban on
foreign media reporting from its easternmost
province of Papua to prevent an escalation of
tension in the restive region, Minister of Defense
Juwono Sudarsono said Monday.

The ban has been in place since 2003 in Papua,
where a low-level guerrilla war has been simmering
since Indonesia assumed control of the former
Dutch territory in the 1960s.

"We feel that Indonesian unity and cohesion would
be threatened by foreign ’intrusion and concern’,"
Juwono told a press conference attended by foreign
correspondents. "There is a balance between
international concern and sovereignty that we want
to strengthen very peacefully," he said.

Juwono said reporters traveling to the jungle-clad
province could heighten tensions between ethnic
Papuans and migrants from outside Papua who make
up a significant proportion of the province’s
population. Reporters could be "used as a
platform" by Papuans to publicize the alleged
abuses, he added.

Juwono admitted that some cases of killing, rapes
and abuses by some soldiers had occurred but said
Jakarta was working hard to minimize violations.

A sporadic, low-level separatist insurgency has
rumbled on in Papua for decades, with
international rights groups and activists saying
the military has committed widespread human rights
abuses against Papua’s indigenous population.

Separatists proclaimed the state of West Papua on
Dec. 1, 1961, but Indonesia took control of the
mountainous, jungle-clad territory from Dutch
colonizers the following year. It was formally
annexed in 1969.

**********

Defense minister admits some rights abuses in
Papua

Voice of America - February 6, 2006

Nancy-Amelia Collins, Jakarta — The Indonesian
defense minister has acknowledged that some
military and police personnel have committed
rights abuses in the eastern province of Papua. He
says, however, any abuses are not part of a
systematic policy.

Indonesian Defense Minister Juwarno Sudarsono told
journalists Monday what human rights groups have
been saying for years — that some members of the
police and military are committing human rights
abuses in Papua.

"I grant that there’s been incidence of some
brutality and torture and rape involving some of
our troops, but there’s a tendency to blanket all
this into a notion that all of those are efforts
of systematic and institutional," he said.

Juwarno made the remarks in response to questions
about 43 Papuans, who fled to Australia last month
seeking asylum.

The group accuses the Indonesian government of
genocide against the people of Papua. While
Australia has yet to decide their fate, the
Indonesian government has asked that the asylum-
seekers be sent home.

Separatists in Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya
province, have been fighting for an independent
state in a low-level insurgency since the former
Dutch colonial power ceded control to Indonesia in
1963.

Rights groups have long accused the Indonesian
military and police of committing abuses against
civilians as they fought insurgents.

Juwarno also defended a de facto ban on foreign
journalists wanting to visit Papua. Visits are
rarely allowed. The defense chief says his
government thinks visits by foreign journalists
disrupt national unity, and stir up separatists.

"Your role as a magnetic attraction to Papuans of
all stripes of political and ethnic sense of
identity will create this sense of danger among
people from outside Papua that the foreigners are
trying to instill a sense of division, by creating
human rights standards, which you feel are
important for you, but also for Papuans," he said.

Juwarno warned foreign journalists not to take
chances of trying to enter the province without
permission. "My concern is that some overzealous
police or military will mishandle you, manhandle
you. That’s a big problem for us," he said.

The defense minister says the government will
issue guidelines to foreign companies in
Indonesia, seeking military protection for their
operations. The US mining company, Freeport-
McMoRan, has been accused of illegally paying
millions of dollars to security forces to guard a
mine in Papua.

Juwarno says the new guidelines will entail all
payments being made voluntarily, and through a
civil agency, such as the Ministry of Minerals and
Mines.

**********

West Papuans ’must escape killing’

The Australian - February 6, 2006

Greg Roberts — The number of people crossing
illegally from the Indonesian province of West
Papua into Australia may be much greater than was
thought.

"All the time there are Papuans coming over in the
small boats to the Torres Strait islands," said
Evrardus Kaise, a refugee from the strife-torn
province who works as a meatworker in Ipswich,
west of Brisbane. "People have to get away from
the killing and everything else by the
Indonesians."

The arrival of 43 Papuan asylum-seekers in a boat
on Cape York Peninsula two weeks ago has unsettled
relations between Canberra and Jakarta, with John
Howard rejecting demands from Indonesian President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for their immediate
return.

The Prime Minister has told Dr Yudhoyono that
applications for refugee status from the Papuans,
who are in the Christmas Island detention centre,
will be processed in accordance with Australian
laws and Australia’s international treaty
obligations.

Mr Kaise said it was not unusual for Papuans to
cross the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border before
crossing to Australia, as he had done.

He fled his village, near Merauke in West Papua,
in 1987 to a refugee camp in PNG. He then took a
boat to Australia’s Saibai Island, just a few
kilometres from the southern PNG coast. "The
Indonesian military is torturing our people," Mr 
Kaise said. "They robbed us of our land, they
stole our country. They still do these things."

Mr Kaise worked as a cray fisherman in the Torres
Strait before being granted permanent residency in
1995. "I would be dead if I stayed there. I hope
the Government will be kind to the ones who are
here now."

Saibai Island Council chairman Jensen Warusam said
because Australia’s treaty with PNG allowed the
movement of PNG nationals through Torres Strait
waters, it was difficult to identify West Papuans.
"They can come over the border and we do not
always know about it,“Mr Warusam said.”We have a
lot of sympathy for these Papuans. They are our
fellow Melanesians."

The Immigration Department said 25 officers were
deployed to deter illegal immigrants in the Torres
Strait. "Someone from West Papua is treated the
same as an unauthorised person from any other
country," a department spokesman said.

On Christmas Island, the 43 asylum-seekers have
been interviewed and the initial screening process
has been completed. A decision on their fate is
expected later this month.

**********

Ball in Australia’s court in asylum case

Agence France Presse - February 5, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesia on Sunday challenged
Australia to prove that 43 boat people from
troubled Papua province seeking asylum from
Canberra are really fleeing persecution.

"It lays on the Australian government to prove
that they are really being persecuted," said
Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda. "The
ball is in the Australians’ court."

The Papuans, who included pro-independence
activists and their families, arrived in northern
Australia last month after a five-day voyage in an
outrigger canoe.

They said they feared death if returned to Papua,
where a sporadic and low-level separatist
insurgency has been going on for decades.

The group was taken to an immigration detention
camp on Christmas Island, a remote Australian
territory in the Indian Ocean.

Wirajuda said Indonesia had already stated that
the asylum seekers were not being persecuted in
Papua and were not being sought by the
authorities. Police had guaranteed they would not
be harmed should they return home.

If Canberra decided to accord them asylum, he
said, "Australia should have the conviction,
beyond reasonable doubt, that they are people who
are being persecuted because of their political or
religious belief or their race.

"We do not want our relations with Australia,
which have already developed well, to be disturbed
by this problem," he added.

Papuans and human rights groups have accused
Indonesian authorities of widespread abuses in the
remote province, a former Dutch colony that
Indonesia took over in the 1960s.

Indonesia won sovereignty over Papua, then called
West Irian, in 1969 after the UN allowed an
integration referendum with a public show of hands
by a few hundred hand-picked tribal leaders.
Critics labelled the vote a sham.

*********

Indonesia pressures government on boat people

Australian Associated Press - February 6, 2006

Indonesia has ramped up pressure on the Howard
government not to grant asylum to 43 Papuan boat
people, with a senior minister denying that human
rights abuses are systemic in the troubled
province.

The Papuans case is threatening to intensify into
a diplomatic row with a series of Indonesian
leaders, from the president down, insisting that
Canberra should send the group back.

Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono challenged
claims by the group of pro-independence activists
of repression by Indonesian security forces.

"These were not asylum seekers because of internal
repression by our police or military," he told
foreign journalists. "But we find it difficult to
persuade the media — international versus local
— because this is a very popular notion about
repression by the cruel Javanese over the poor
Papuans for the past 15 years."

Sudarsono, a civilian who has pushed reform within
Indonesia’s military, said the issue should not
harm growing defence ties, including the imminent
resumption of training between Australian and
Indonesian special forces soldiers.

Sudarsono is the third senior Indonesian official
to pressure Australia in recent days, echoing the
views of Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda and
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Yudhoyono has
telephoned Prime Minister John Howard to promise
the Papuans would not be harmed if returned.

The Papuans have been taken to an immigration
detention camp on Christmas Island, an Australian
territory just south of Java, while their claims
are being assessed.

Sudarsono admitted there had been sporadic
incidents of violence against separatists but
denied it was policy driven.

"I grant there have been incidents of some
brutality and torture and rape involving some of
our troops,“he said.”But there is a tendency to
blanket or insinuate that all these incidents are
systemic.“He said Mr Howard had been”persuaded" the group
should be returned as soon as possible, he said.
"But of course its very difficult, because once
it’s in the hands of the immigration officers in
Australia, then Australian law must operate on the
ground there,“Sudarsono said.”I don’t think it will destruct relations between
defence ministries." The Papuans arrived in
Australia last month after a five-day voyage in an
outrigger canoe.

Sudarsono said reports from human rights groups
that Indonesian army and police numbers in Papua
were being almost doubled with an additional
15,000 soldiers to help crack down on separatists
were nonsense.

The cash-strapped military could not even pay for
an additional headquarters unit, let alone a
division-strong deployment in the sprawling
province, which Jakarta won sovereignty over in
1969 following a UN referendum widely seen as
rigged.

If he tried to divert money earmarked for critical
new combat aircraft, ships and military housing,
then Jakarta would be abusing the human rights of
its own troops, who receive "inadequate pay for a
very important job", Sudarsono said.

Instead of a draconian security crackdown, the way
forward lay in stronger efforts by mainstream
political parties to win the support of Papuan
voters.

"Some people are already disillusioned with
democracy and parliamentary politics, and even
some have openly cried for a return of the
military,“Sudarsono said”So the ball is in the
court of our friends in the political parties, to
get organised, get real and get things done on the
ground."

But in calling for a strengthening of democracy,
Sudarsono also defended a de facto ban of foreign
media visiting Papua, warning it would only harm
efforts to build more “unity and cohesion” and
give a platform to disgruntled separatists.

He said there were many Indonesians, including
members of the country’s powerful elite, who
harboured deep suspicions that foreign nations
including Australia, the US and the Netherlands
wanted to break up Indonesia.

"Your role as a magnetic attraction to Papuans of
all stripes of political as well as ethnic sense
of identity will create this sense of danger among
people from outside of Papua that foreigners are
trying to instill this sense of division," he
said. "There is a clash of notions of human rights
which I think you must understand."

**********

Indonesia ups ante on Papuans

Melbourne Age - February 4, 2006

Tom Allard — Indonesia has stepped up its
campaign for Australia to return 43 Papuan asylum
seekers, with its new ambassador warning that
relations will be strained if they are granted
refugee status.

As Australia and Indonesia negotiate a new
security treaty, the tensions over the arrival of
the asylum seekers has been highlighted by a
concerted effort at the highest levels of the
Indonesian Government.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
telephoned Prime Minister John Howard last week to
offer his personal guarantee that the asylum
seekers would not be harmed. Indonesian Foreign
Minister Hassan Wirajuda also made personal
representations to Australia’s ambassador in
Jakarta, Bill Farmer.

The issue is also believed to have been discussed
with high-ranking Indonesian military officials.

Yesterday Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia,
Hamzah Thayeb, offered his promise for the safety
of the Papuan boat people, but also a warning that
ties could be harmed.

Asked if the relationship could be hurt if the
Australian Government granted the Papuans asylum,
Mr Thayeb said: "I hope it will not, but it
certainly would have an effect that’s why we have
to manage this together and find a solution."

He urged the group to begin a dialogue with
Indonesian authorities and the Papuan People’s
Council about their grievances, something they
could only do if they returned home.

The leader of the asylum seekers, Herman Wainggai,
said this week that the Indonesian military was
treating indigenous Papuans like animals. Mr 
Thayeb rejected that assessment. "We have changed
fundamentally within ourselves," he told the ABC
yesterday.

Indonesia offered Papua special autonomy in 2001
in an effort to quell unrest from the Melanesian
population of the resource-rich province. However,
Mr Wainggai has described autonomy as a sham, and
there have been numerous reports of the Indonesian
military murdering and raping people and
destroying villages since autonomy came into
force.

Papua was controversially incorporated into
Indonesia after a vote in 1969 overseen by the
United Nations. However, only 1025 people hand-
picked by the Indonesian authorities were allowed
to vote. Reinforcing the dubious nature of the
poll, the voters gave 100 per cent approval to
become part of Indonesia.

Australian parliamentarians who met the asylum
seekers on Christmas Island, where they are being
assessed by officials from the Department of
Immigration, believe they have legitimate claims
to be refugees.

That support extends across the political
spectrum, with National Party senator Barnaby
Joyce yesterday voicing his sympathies and saying
he believed the Papuans, who landed on Cape York
Peninsula in far north Queensland, last month.
"From my naive position, prima facie, they seem
like they have a genuine claim," he said.

**********

Indonesian Ambassador dismisses claims by Papuans

Radio Australia - February 3, 2006

Indonesia’s new Ambassador to Canberra says
relations between Australia and Indonesia will
certainly be affected if Australia grants refugee
status to more than 40 asylum seekers from the
Indonesian province of Papua.

The group most of whom are men and activists
arrived in northern Australia by canoe last month
and are now held at Australia’s remote Christmas
Island detention centre in the Indian Ocean,
waiting for a decision on their asylum claims. The
leader of the Papua group on Christmas Island
Herman Wainggai says he and the other independence
activists will be killed if they’re sent home. But
the new Indonesian Ambassador to Australia Hamzah
Thayeb says there’s no basis for the claims.

Presenter/Interviewer: Peta Donald

Speakers: Hamzah Thayeb Indonesian Ambassador to
Australia

Hamzah Thayeb: We see no reason for them to seek
asylum. And they are not in the criminal list from
the police. They have not done any criminal
action. They just can go back and the President
already gives guarantee that they will, if they
decide to return back, they can do so.

Peta Donald: Well, they have come here seeking
asylum. They say that they would be killed if they
returned to the Indonesian province of Papua. One
of their leaders, Herman Wainggai, is quoted as
saying that the Indonesian military and the
militias are treating, that these people are being
treated like animals.

Hamzah Thayeb: There’s no truth in what he is
saying, because, again, ever since the reform we
have changed fundamentally within ourselves. And
what Mr Wainggai is saying, I don’t know where he
gets these ideas.

In Papua, we have this special autonomy. And
within that special autonomy, we have already
mechanisms, especially the Papua People’s Council.
It is, the composition is they’re all Papuans, so
Wainggai, I would tell him to, if he’s for
dialogue, dialogue with them. Try to address all
these issues.

Peta Donald: Nonetheless, these people say they’re
afraid to return. The Australian Government says
their asylum cases will be considered on their
merit. It’s not going to take into account its
relationship with Indonesia in considering the
plans. It’ll uphold its international obligations.
What will Indonesia do if these asylum seekers are
granted refugee status in Australia?

Hamzah Thayeb: Again, I must really emphasise we
do not see any reason for them to seek asylum,
because there’s no reason. No reason.

Peta Donald: But they are seeking asylum, what
will you do if Australia grants them refugee
status?

Hamzah Thayeb: That is for the Australian to, of
course, to look into according to their own laws.
But, as we see it, there’s no reason for them to
do so.

Peta Donald: Will it put a strain on the
relationship if Australia does?

Hamzah Thayeb: I hope it will not, but it
certainly would have an effect, that’s why we have
to manage this together and find a solution.

**********

Papua students demand justice over Wagete shooting

Liputan6.com - February 4, 2006

Yogyakarta- Dozens of students from West Papua
demonstrated at the intersection in front of the
Yogyakarta central post office on Friday February
3.

The demonstration was held to express their
concern over the Wagete shooting incident in the
Tigi sub-district of the Paniai regency on January
20. They are demanding that the government of
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice
President Jusuf Kalla take responsibility for the
incident in order that the victims and their
families receive justice.

The students also demanded that the perpetrators
of the shooting be tried in a human rights court
and be dismissed from their posts. They consider
the shooting to be a gross violation of human
rights. The demonstration took place while a
number of road construction workers in the village
of Gakokebo were also raising questions about the
wage payments.

The Wagete incident resulted in the death of Moses
Douw, a Wagete state senior high-school student,
and the wounding of three others. The perpetrator
of the shooting, Infantry Second Lieutenant
Situmeang who holds the post of the platoon
commander of the Infantry Battalion Special Team
753/Arga Viratama and Police Second Brigadier
Ronald Isac Tumena who is a member of the Wagete
sectoral police have already been dismissed from
their posts. (TOZ/Tim Liputan 6 SCTV)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

*********

Indonesian refugees were tortured

Associated Press - February 3, 2006

Sydney — Refugees who landed in Australia after a
five-day sea voyage had been jailed and tortured
in Indonesia, an Australian lawmaker said Friday,
as Jakarta’s ambassador warned of strained
relations if they are granted asylum.

Barnaby Joyce, a high profile lawmaker from the
ruling coalition who met with the 43 people from
the restive Indonesian province of Papua, said the
group appeared to have a genuine asylum claim and
had been persecuted because of their Christian
beliefs.

"There are documented cases of members within
their families being shot," he told reporters
after meeting with the refugees at an immigration
processing facility on Australia’s Indian Ocean
territory Christmas Island, where they were
transferred after landing on the northern coast of
Queensland state on Jan. 18.

"There’s certainly on the record experiences of
them being jailed and tortured so I think they
would be under risk if they went back," he said,
noting that he had only met with them briefly.

But Indonesia’s Ambassador to Canberra, Teuku
Mohammad Hamzah Thayeb, repeated earlier warnings
by Indonesian officials that granting the group
asylum could strain relations between the two
countries.

"It certainly would have an effect. That’s why we
have to manage this together and find a solution,"
Thayeb told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
radio on Friday.

The group, which includes seven children, arrived
carrying a banner accusing Indonesia of terrorism
and genocide in the province, where a poorly armed
separatist movement has battled Jakarta’s rule for
decades.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the
group had not yet officially applied for refugee
status, but would be given “a fair hearing” if
they file an asylum claim.

"If they ask for protection we will consider the
claim appropriately and if it is appropriate to
offer it, we will offer it," Vanstone told
reporters late Thursday.

Joyce said the group of native Papuans were
Christian, which meant they are ethnically,
religiously and politically isolated after an
influx of Indonesians to the province.

The group appeared to be decent and have a genuine
claim, he said. "It’s very hard to tell from a
brief meeting and you can look a bit foolish if
you make a statement and then you find out that
they robbed a bank," he said.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda has
said the group has nothing to fear if they return
to Papua.

Indonesian troops have been repeatedly accused of
rights abuses in Papua province, which was taken
over by Jakarta in 1963. About 100,000 Papuans -
one-sixth of the population — have died in
military operations on the half-island province
about 3,700 kilometers east of Jakarta.

**********

Dozens reported dead in Papua dysentery outbreak

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2006

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura — A dysentery
outbreak has killed dozens of local residents in
the remote Papuan regency of Puncak Jaya in the
past two months, a reverend said Thursday.

"Dozens are reported to have died in the outbreak
between December and January after coming down
with dysentery," Seblum Karubaba, chairman of
Kemah Injil Church Synod, told The Jakarta in
Jayapura.

Coordinator of the Papua Health Crisis Center
Paminto Widodo, however, said he had not received
any information or exact data about Seblum’s
claims.

"We will soon deploy representatives to the site,
even though it is difficult to reach the area. But
now there is a doctor — Dr. Mery — who has been
stationed at Mulia public hospital in Puncak
Jaya," he said.

Seblum said he received the information about the
deaths from the chairman of Ilaga Barat parish
Rev. Martinus Magai and spiritual adviser Daniel
Lalong.

"Three days ago, on Dec. 31, they came to meet me
to report their activities at their parish and at
the same time revealed more about the disease
outbreak,“he said.”A retreat for women scheduled for Jan. 8 to Jan.
11 was postponed until next April because the
participants were in mourning for the dead." He
said the men told him that up to five people died
in one kampong in a day, spreading fear in nearby
Ilaga Barat and Ilaga Timur parishes.

"Incessant rainfall for days led to the outbreak,
where local residents frequently had bloody
diarrhea before they died," Seblum said. He added
he would send a letter of complaint to the
regional authorities about their negligence in not
handling the outbreak.

He said the reported deaths showed the government
was not serious in giving adequate services to
residents in remote areas. "The public’s money has
not been properly utilized to empower them," he
said.

Paminto explained he knew nothing of the incident.
"No extraordinary incident was reported. One or
two deaths in one day is still unexceptional. But
we’ll await accurate data from our health
officials," he said.

Ilaga district is accessible in 45 minutes by
Cessna or Twin Otter airplanes from Wamena, but it
takes only 25 minutes from Mulia. Puncak Jaya
Regent Elieser Renmaur and health officials are
currently visiting Ilaga district to ascertain the
extent of the outbreak.

**********

Most locals reject Papua split: MRP

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta — The Papua People’s
Council (MRP) is stepping up its opposition to
Jakarta’s policy to split Papua, saying a recent
survey found most people object to the plan.

MRP chairman Agus Alue Alua said The council had
conducted a survey to find out what people’s views
were on the controversial policy to set up the new
West Irian Jaya province.

According to the 2001 law on special autonomy for
Papua, any division of the territory requires the
approval of the MRP, the provincial legislature
and the governor.

In a telephone interview with The Jakarta Post
last week, Agus said that MRP officials conducted
a series of public meetings throughout West Papua.
The large majority of respondents, made up of
people from women’s groups, the church, tribal
assemblies and non-governmental organizations, all
expressed their strong opposition to the plan, he
said. Neither had any of the respondents ever been
involved in the decision-making process, he said.

"Most respondents, in the provincial capital of
Manokwari and in all the regencies, reject the new
province. They said the province was established
by Jakarta with the support of a few local
politicians who would gain politically and
economically from it," Agus said.

He knew of only between 10 and 20 government
officials who supported the creation of the new
province. "The Papuan people don’t see any urgency
to form a new province. They want the government
to prioritize other important issues, such as
(resolving) human rights abuses, the widening gap
between indigenous people and migrants and rampant
corruption among local officials," he said.

Papuans want to directly elect a governor for the
whole province to replace JP Solossa, who died of
heart attack last month, he said.

Following up last November’s meeting with Papuan
leaders to set up the MRP, Vice President Jusuf
Kalla on Jan. 9 asked the MRP, the provincial
legislature and the governor to vote for the
creation of West Irian Jaya by mid-May.

In November’s meeting, Jakarta and some Papuan
leaders agreed to sign a government regulation in
lieu of law, or Perpu, which would provide a legal
basis for the establishment of the new province.
The Perpu has provoked widespread protest in Papua
and is yet to be enforced.

The central government insists that the split is
necessary to better manage the large territory.
However, its critics say the policy goes against
the special autonomy law and is unconstitutional.
In an odd decision, the Constitutional Court
agreed with the critics in November 2004, but
ruled the creation of West Irian Jaya should go
ahead anyway.

Papuan political observer Frans Maniagassi and
Cendrawasih University social scientist Agus
Sumule in Manokwari said Jakarta should consider
the results of the MRP’s public consultation. They
said Papuans would be more likely to press ahead
with demands for a self-determination referendum
if Jakarta continued to insist on dividing the
province.

**********

Concern for West Papuans’ safety

Green Left Weekly - February 1, 2006

Sarah Stephen — Among the 43 West Papuan asylum
seekers who were transferred to Christmas Island
on January 18 are four family groups. They are
living in community detention, under close guard.

A family of West Timorese asylum seekers is living
in the house next door to one occupied by a West
Papuan family but, according to refugee advocate
Kaye Bernard, the West Timorese have been told by
the Global Solutions Limited (GSL) guards not to
talk to the West Papuans.

Bernard told Green Left Weekly that a West Papuan
father and son were flown to Perth on January 20
with suspected tuberculosis. The father has since
been released into the community, but the son
remains in hospital. Bernard pointed out that this
exposes the claim by the immigration department
(DIMIA) that it conducted thorough health checks
before it flew the asylum seekers to Christmas
Island as a lie.

"It’s an example of the ongoing bulldust put out
by the government. The health checks at Weipa were
totally inadequate", Bernard explained. She argued
that DIMIA wanted to get the asylum seekers to
Christmas Island as quickly as possible and cut
whatever corners it needed to.

Bernard has serious concerns about the use of the
Christmas Island processing and reception centre
to detain asylum seekers for long periods. She
visited, and campaigned for the release of, 43
Vietnamese asylum seekers detained there from 2003
to 2005.

"It was designed as a transitional facility for
people intercepted at sea“, she said.”The
facilities aren’t there for anything beyond what a
GP can provide." Greens Senator Kerry Nettle,
planning a visit to the island on January 29,
wasn’t given approval to meet with the West
Papuans until a few days beforehand.

DIMIA tried hard to find a pretext to bar her from
contact with the asylum seekers. First, it argued
that the asylum seekers weren’t properly health
cleared — an embarrassing admission that the
department hadn’t followed protocols in Weipa.

Second, it claimed that not all the asylum seekers
had completed their primary interviews. Yet on
January 27 DIMIA admitted that all interviews had
been finalised.

The final barrier, which may yet prevent Nettle
from speaking directly to the asylum seekers, is
the requirement that her name be on the asylum
seekers’ visitors list, a bizarre catch-22
requirement since the asylum seekers cannot put
Nettle’s name on their “list” unless they know
she’s coming.

To date, DIMIA and GSL have barred all supporters,
including Australia West Papua Association
members, from speaking with the West Papuans.

Refugee advocates are very concerned about the
safety and well-being of the West Papuans.
According to a January 26 Project SafeCom media
release, Australia West Papua Association member
Ned Byrne confirmed that a priest in the West
Papuan town of Wamena, who was the first political
prisoner in West Papua and whose three children
are among those who sailed to Australia two weeks
ago, has been approached by Indonesian officials
with a list of names and asked to confirm that
they were on the boat that made it to Australia.
The priest felt he had no choice but to confirm
the list of names.

Indonesian officials have already tried to gain
access to the asylum seekers. On January 18,
officials travelled to Weipa to check up on the
West Papuans who had just arrived.

It was rumoured that DIMIA gave them access to the
asylum seekers, but the department claims that a
junior delegation from the Indonesian consulate
arrived just a few hours too late. Even if this is
true, Bernard points out that their efforts to
access the asylum seekers were completely outside
diplomatic protocols, unless the Australian
government had given them the green light.

It appears likely that, if Indonesian authorities
haven’t already been given access to the West
Papuans, Australian authorities will happily allow
them in to interrogate the asylum seekers at some
stage.

This is what happened to a family group of seven
West Timorese asylum seekers who reached land
north of Broome on November 5. They presented
themselves to authorities to claim asylum and were
taken to Christmas Island after being hidden in
Darwin for 10 days.

Bernard, who has spoken with one of the West
Timorese men, was told by him that DIMIA officers
repeatedly asked whether any of the family wanted
access to their embassy. They said no, and
explained that this was from whom they were
fleeing.

On their third day of detention they were told,
"We’re now going to let Indonesian embassy
officials in to see you. They just want to have a
look at you." The Indonesian officials questioned
them about their names and where they had come
from. The family was frightened and in tears, but
said nothing.

Bernard says that she was told by an ABC reporter
that DIMIA had informed journalists that two of
the West Papuans on Christmas Island has asked for
Indonesian consular access. Such claims possibly
lay the groundwork for a visit by consular staff.

All the asylum seekers now held on Christmas
Island — eight West Timorese and 43 West Papuans
— have come to Australia fleeing Indonesian
authorities. Bernard said it is incredible that,
of all the places they could be detained, the
Australian government deems it appropriate to hold
them in an offshore detention centre that’s five
times closer to Indonesia than it is to Australia.

The Project SafeCom media release echoes this
point: "The fact that DIMIA has placed Papuan
families, men, women and children in staff
housing, openly visible from the beach on
Christmas Island, places them, as well as their
families and relatives in West Papua, in a direct
line of fire and in direct danger of being
identified by Indonesians", who are able to travel
freely to Christmas Island, only 400 kilometres
from the coast of Java, under the guise of
tourists.

As an aside, Bernard pointed out that the eighth
West Timorese man being held on Christmas Island
arrived by boat near northern Queensland some time
in 2005. She said it was only by chance that she
noticed the change in the detention figures,
indicating one new arrival on the island. Bernard
made sure he received legal assistance but wonders
if anyone would have known of his existence if she
hadn’t pursued the issue. It is a chilling example
of the way the Christmas Island detention centre
can be used to “disappear” people, she said.

Bernard told GLW: "The West Papuans shouldn’t be
treated any differently from other asylum seekers.
All people seeking asylum should be treated with
the utmost respect."

**********

West Papua: Genocide continues

Green Left Weekly - February 1, 2006

Kerryn Williams — The arrival on Australian
shores of 43 West Papuan refugees on January 18
has put the spotlight on the long suffering — and
determined resistance — of the people of West
Papua.

For more than two centuries West Papua was a Dutch
colony. After Indonesia became an independent
republic in 1949, a dispute flared over West
Papua’s fate. The Netherlands argued that Papua
was a separate geographic and ethnic entity from
Indonesia, with its own national character, and
prepared for self-determination for the territory.
The newly elected West New Guinea Council took
office on December 1, 1961, adopting the Morning
Star national flag and a national anthem.

This was the "unmistakable beginning of the
formation of a Papuan state", according to a
report, released in November, that was
commissioned by the Dutch government to
investigate the period.

However Indonesia, determined to control West
Papua, began small-scale military incursions in
1962, using arms supplied by the US. In August
that year, UN-sponsored negotiations between
Indonesia and the Netherlands — from which the
West Papuan people were excluded — resulted in
the New York Agreement. This placed Papua under
temporary UN administration before handing over
control to Indonesia.

Sham ballot In 1969, the UN oversaw the farcical
“Act of Free Choice”, in which just over 1000 West
Papuans, selected by the Indonesian military,
“voted” unanimously — out of a population of some
800,000. At gunpoint, and in open meetings rather
than by secret ballot, they “agreed” to remain
under Indonesian rule.

A December 9 bulletin issued by Tapol, the
Indonesian Human Rights Campaign, quotes Michel
Pelletier, one of the UN observers sent to West
Papua in 1968 to monitor implementation of the New
York Agreement. He described their role as
“superficial”, because the Indonesian military
were “hovering over the whole thing”, restricting
the observers’ movements, and preventing them from
investigating allegations of human rights
violations and from witnessing the many protests
by West Papuans opposed to Indonesian rule. The UN
team was forced to leave as soon as the Act of
Free Choice was over. Nevertheless, the UN
ratified the result on November 19 of that year.

The Dutch report described the Act of Free Choice
as a “sham”, noting that by the time the
Netherlands’ rule ended "the first signs of the
violent action taken by the Indonesian military,
which would also characterise the new
administration in the coming decades, soon
appeared. Rapid impoverishment ensued, together
with a substantial decline in legal certainty and
a loss of civil rights across the board." From
1969 until October 1998 (five months after the
overthrow of former Indonesian military dictator
President Suharto), West Papua was designated as a
“military operations zone”, giving the military
free reign to combat the resistance movement. Some
100,000 people have died during the Indonesian
occupation.

In May 1981, the Tribunal on Human Rights in West
Papua, held in Papua New Guinea, heard from
Eliezer Bonay, Indonesia’s first governor of the
territory, that some 30,000 West Papuans had been
murdered during 1963-69.

Free Papua Movement Since its formation in 1965,
the Free Papua Movement (OPM) has led armed
resistance to the Indonesian occupation. A 2001
Human Rights Watch report, Violence and Political
Impasse in Papua, noted: "In the three years since
[Suharto] fell... a broad, civilian-based Papuan
independence movement has emerged along side the
guerrilla fighters and, for the first time, poses
a serious challenge for Indonesia".

In February 2000, 400 delegates met to discuss how
to win independence, then 3000 delegates met for a
congress in May-June.

“Special autonomy” legislation was adopted in
September 2001, giving an element of self-rule and
returning a greater proportion of taxes and
royalties to West Papua. But in early 2003, under
an Indonesian presidential regulation, this
autonomy was undermined by the partition of West
Papua into three provinces, involving the creation
of new provincial military commands. A new
province, West Irian Jaya, was created.

In 2001, Papuan Presidium Council leader Theys
Hiyo Eluay was murdered by military personnel. The
soldiers responsible received jail sentences of
just two years.

In 2003, the Indonesian military launched a terror
campaign in the highlands, raiding and burning
villages, assaulting, raping, torturing and
executing villagers, and displacing hundreds of
people.

A key site of conflict is the giant gold and
copper mine operated by US company Freeport
McMoran, which has been in operation since the
1970s.

According to the Vanuatu-based West Papuan
People’s Representative Office, in a January 20
statement, "The presence of Freeport McMoran in
West Papua has not brought any appreciable
benefits to the people... Instead, the
exploitation of the mine has wrought serious
damage to the local culture, belief system,
environment, social structure and political
aspirations of the people... Freeport also
promotes violence in the immediate region by
providing funds in the millions of US dollars to
the Indonesian military and security forces to
maintain ’security’ over the mine area, beside the
US$1 billion as annual dividend, paid last year to
the Indonesian Government." Dr Otto Ondawame,
international spokesperson for the OPM, said in
the statement: "We cannot tolerate any more of
these types of inhuman acts, and call upon the
people of West Papua to take all necessary
peaceful actions to close down the Freeport mine."
On January 11, in a joint FBI-Indonesian police
operation, 12 suspected OPM members were arrested
at Timika near Freeport. They were accused of
involvement in the 2002 murder of two US citizens
near the mine. This is despite one of the US
survivors supporting accounts of the killing that
directly implicate the Indonesian military, and
the principal suspect admitting his role in the
attack as a member of a military-sponsored
militia. Four of the 12 detainees are aged between
12 and 14 years.

The Indonesian daily Sinar Harapan reported on
January 26 that a meeting in Jakarta on January 23
decided to increase troop numbers guarding
Freeport mine.

Increasing military presence The Human Rights
Watch World Report 2006 described "a significant
build-up of troops in Papua“in 2005,”with
reports of widespread displacement of civilians,
arson and arbitrary detention in the central
highlands region".

An August 2005 report by John Wing with Peter King
from the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and
Conflict Studies, Genocide in West Papua?, found
that "the [Indonesian] Republic’s armed forces act
as a law unto themselves with no real
accountability for crimes against the Papuan
population". On November 23, Tapol reported that
Indonesia plans to double its forces in West Papua
over the next five years and deploy a new division
of special combat troops known as Kostrad.

On December 1, Tapol reported that it had
uncovered a secret directive issued by West
Papua’s chief of police on November 10 threatening
to charge anyone who protests on commemorative
dates during November and December under
Indonesia’s anti-subversion laws, which carry a
maximum sentence of life in prison. On December 1,
2004, two people were arrested for participating
in a pro-independence demonstration in Jayapura
and were sentenced to 10 and 15 years’ jail.

On January 20, police shot and killed 15-year-old
Moses Douw and seriously injured two others.
Police claim security personnel fired on a crowd
of protesters seeking authorisation to collect
fees from motorists using a nearby road, after
some of the protesters allegedly assaulted a
police officer. However Benny Giay from the
Indonesian human rights group Elsham Papua told
the January 21 Sydney Morning Herald that the
murder occurred when four students were ambushed
on their way to school. Douw is a relative of one
of the Papuan refugees currently detained on
Christmas Island.

On January 23, Detik.com reported that protesters
stormed the Papuan legislative council building in
the provincial capital Jayapura, demanding the
withdrawal of Indonesian troops from West Papua
and calling for an independent investigation into
the January 20 killings.

Australia’s role Tom Benedetti from Canada’s West
Papua Action Network wrote in the January 2
International Herald Tribune that Indonesian
military activity had been escalating in West
Papua, and the number of troops there has reached
an estimated 50,000.

Benedetti cited three major obstacles to peace in
West Papua. The first is that "foreign journalists
and most researchers and aid workers are still
banned from West Papua. Unlike in Aceh after the
tsunami, no-one is looking." The second is that
the Indonesian military "earns millions selling
security services to resource companies such as
the gold-mining company Freeport-McMoran". And
finally, the majority of the Indonesian military’s
budget is funded from its own legal and illegal
business ventures, and "West Papua is the
Indonesian military’s most lucrative area of
operations".

The US and Australian governments have started to
renew military ties with Indonesia, following a
temporary suspension in 1999 when Jakarta-backed
militias launched a violent rampage in the wake of
East Timor’s independence referendum.

The January 20 West Papuan People’s Representative
Office statement noted: "In the 1960s, the
Government of the USA shamefully sold out West
Papua as a bribe to Indonesia for its cooperation
in halting the spread of communism in Southeast
Asia and the Pacific. The USA is now trading off
West Papua to Indonesia once again in return for
its cooperation in the struggle against
international terrorism and Islamic extremism."
Jacob Rumbiak from the West Papua National
Coalition for Liberation told Radio Australia on
January 23 that "human rights abuses and genocide
[in West Papua] have been done by the government
and military of Indonesia so... Australia has a
responsibility to put pressure on Indonesia
because training the military... and training
facilities in Indonesia [are] supported by
Australia."

**********

Who are the asylum seekers?

Green Left Weekly - February 1, 2006

Sarah Stephen — One of the passengers aboard the
outrigger canoe that landed on Cape York peninsula
on January 18 was a five-year-old child.

Reminiscent of so many stories of unaccompanied
minors seeking asylum, the boy’s parents, high-
profile West Papuan independence activists, were
unable to escape and expect to die at the hands of
the Indonesian military. To give their son some
chance of surviving, they put him on a boat to
Australia.

Herman Wainggai, a prominent student activist in
West Papua, is another of those seeking political
asylum in Australia. Australia West Papua
Association member Alex Rayfield interviewed
Wainggai in 2001. Wainggai told him, "For over 40
years we have been living under pressure from the
Indonesian military. Our heart is crying for
independence."

In a January 25 article on the New Matilda
website, Rayfield wrote: "Wainggai says he is
deeply committed to the pursuit of West Papuan
independence through nonviolent means. When I
first interviewed him in 2001 he had just come out
of four months’ jail for organising and
participating in a rally and flag raising. When I
returned to West Papua in 2002 he was in jail
again for another nonviolent action, and was not
released until 2004.

The article also described the fate of Wainggai’s
uncle, Dr Thomas Wainggai. "On 14 December, 1988,
Dr Wainggai, together with several hundred other
West Papuans, participated in an illegal flag
raising. He was arrested by the Indonesian
authorities and sentenced to 20 years’
imprisonment. Several other leaders who helped
organise the protest also received lengthy prison
sentences. Dr Wainggai’s Japanese-born wife was
sentenced to six years’ jail for simply sewing the
flag used in the demonstration.

"Dr Wainggai died in prison in Jakarta in March
1996. The cause of his death is not known but many
West Papuans suspect that he was murdered by the
Indonesian military."

**********

Protests: Let the West Papuan refugees stay!

Green Left Weekly - February 1, 2006

Australians protested around the country last week
in solidarity with the 43 West Papuan refugees who
have been detained by the federal government on
Christmas Island. The protesters called on the
government to immediately release the asylum
seekers into the community and grant them
permanent refugee status in Australia.

In Canberra, Jude Morton reports, 120 people
rallied in Garema Place on January 25 in a protest
organised by the Refugee Action Collective, the
Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) and the
Socialist Alliance.

Speakers at the action called not only for the
release of the asylum seekers, but also for an end
to military ties between Canberra and Jakarta, and
for a referendum in West Papua so that the people
can decide their territory’s future.

The wide range of speakers at the rally reflected
the broad community support for the West Papuans.
They included Andrew Hall from the Refugee Action
Committee; Rose Costelloe from the AWPA; Gregor
Henderson, president-elect of the Uniting Church;
and Errol Ayamseba from the West Papuan community
in Canberra. Costelloe spoke about the 40-year
history of oppression in West Papua and called for
the refugees to be released, not held
incommunicado on Christmas Island.

Deb Foskey, Greens MLA, read a statement of
support from Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, who is
planning to meet with the refugees on Christmas
Island. Nick Everett, the rally chair, read a
message of support from Australian Democrats
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

Anglican bishop George Browning also addressed the
crowd before it marched to Liberal Senator Gary
Humphries’ office. There, a number of West Papuans
spoke about the situation in their country and
performed music. The protesters chanted "Refugees,
freedom now! West Papua, freedom now!“and”We are
Melanesian, not Indonesian!".

Humphries’ office was contacted earlier to invite
the senator to address the protest, but his staff
declined saying that Humphries was on leave.

According to AWPA activists, Humphries is well
informed about the human rights situation in West
Papua. He should therefore be called on to lead a
push within the Liberal Party to have the refugees
immediately released.

Sashi Dharann reports from Melbourne that the AWPA
organised a snap action on January 24 calling for
freedom for the asylum seekers and for West Papua.

One hundred and twenty people converged outside
the immigration department office and listened to
speakers from Melbourne’s West Papuan community,
the Greens, Action in Solidarity with Asia and the
Pacific, and refugee-rights activist Pamela Curr.

Jacob Rumbiak, spokesperson for the West Papuan
National Coalition for Liberation who is now
resident in Melbourne, told Green Left Weekly,
"Something has got to change in Canberra if we are
to move forward in any way". He added that the
Australian government "needs to relate to the
people’s struggles in Indonesia for democracy, and
not just strengthen military ties".

After listening to the speakers, some of the
demonstrators marched through the city to
Federation Square. More actions are being planned
to keep up the pressure on the federal government
to free the asylum seekers and grant them
permanent refugee status.

 MILITARY TIES

Training ’won’t endanger’ Papuans

Sydney Morning Herald - February 2, 2006

Kylie Williams — The defence department has
rejected a refugee group’s claims that training
Indonesian special forces troops will endanger
West Papuan lives.

The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) has
called on the Department of Defence and new
Defence Minister Brendan Nelson to rethink plans
to train the Indonesian military, in particular
special forces Kopassus.

Former defence minister Robert Hill announced in
December that Australian forces would train
Kopassus.

Refugee groups believe the shooting of four
teenagers in Papua earlier this month was linked
to a boatload of asylum seekers fleeing the
Indonesian province and landing on the Australian
mainland only days earlier.

The 43 Papuans are now on Christmas Island where
their asylum claims are being assessed.

Joe Collins from the AWPA said Kopassus had a
history of human rights abuses in Papua and
training from the Australian Defence Force would
only worsen the situation.

"Without going into any great detail of its past
history, Kopassus has been notorious for its role
in human rights abuses in East Timor and West
Papua,“he said.”AWPA believes that it is
untimely for our military to recommence co-
operation with the Indonesian military."

But a spokesman for the defence department said
that in the light of recent terrorist bombings, it
was in Australia’s best interests to engage with
defence forces in our region.

"The bombings in Bali on 1 October, 2005, further
highlight the need for regional countries to work
together in combating this common threat," he
said. He said the training would not include
individuals or groups with past histories of human
rights abuses.

Senator Hill said late last year that while there
had been concerns about Kopassus and human rights
abuses in the past, it had changed its ways.

**********

End military ties with Indonesia

Green Left Weekly - February 1, 2006

Jon Lamb — The recent arrival of West Papuan
asylum seekers in northern Australia and the
restricted release of the United Nations-
commissioned report from the Commission for
Reception, Truth and Reconciliation on human
rights abuses in East Timor have sparked renewed
calls for an end to military ties with Indonesia.
The Indonesian military (TNI) is also reported to
be building up its troops in West Papua and
carrying out actions to intimidate and attempt to
crush the independence movement.

In 1999, the TNI-backed destruction of East Timor
by pro-Jakarta militia resulted in a massive
international backlash and protest movement,
forcing Indonesia’s closest allies — the US,
Australia and Britain — to suspend their supply
of military training and equipment to the TNI.

These three nations have provided most of the
training and resources the TNI needed to occupy
East Timor for 24 years. Without their direct
military assistance, especially the supply of
state of the art weaponry, the subjugation of the
East Timorese people could not have lasted as long
as it did.

The protest and solidarity actions in 1999 in
support of the East Timorese people’s right to
self-determination broke the decades-long "special
relationship" between Western powers and the TNI.

Resuming military ties between these governments
and the TNI was made contingent on achieving
justice, bringing to account the numerous leading
TNI officers and militia leaders responsible for
gross human rights abuses and war crimes in East
Timor. But since 1999, not a single leading TNI
figure involved in implementing Indonesia’s
“scorched earth” policy in East Timor has been
convicted and punished. On the contrary, many have
been promoted within the TNI and/or pursued
successful careers and business interests outside
of the military.

General Adam Damiri, for example, who played a key
role in orchestrating the terror campaign in East
Timor, was promoted in December 1999 to
operational assistant to the armed forces chief of
staff in Jakarta, heading up operations within
Aceh. Likewise, Colonel Timbul Silaen, head of the
police in East Timor in 1999 (and in charge of
security before the August 30 independence
referendum) was promoted to brigadier general and
head of the newly created police “anti-corruption”
force. In late 2003, he was appointed as chief of
police in West Papua, around the same time that
East Timorese militia leader and indicted war
criminal Eurico Guterres announced he was
establishing anti-independence militias there.

A sham

The UN has consistently backed away from creating
an international war crimes tribunal, despite
recommendations for such a tribunal from its own
International Commission of Inquiry, released in
early 2000. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has
capitulated to concerted pressure from the US and
its allies, declaring that the Indonesian
government should be given the opportunity to
establish its own inquiry and judicial process.

What has transpired has been a total sham. The ad
hoc Human Rights Court, which from its inception
in 2001 has been resolutely condemned by
Indonesian human rights activists, including the
government’s own human rights body KPP-HAM, has
been unable to implement any punitive action
against those indicted and convicted for human
rights abuses in East Timor. Silaen, for example,
was acquitted, and Damiri had the charges against
him overturned on appeal.

While there remains public concern within the US,
Britain and Australia about resuming ties with the
TNI, this concern has lessened following the 2001
terrorist attack in New York, and the bombings in
Jakarta and Bali and more recently London. Both
the George Bush and John Howard governments have
justified the need to re-engage with the
Indonesian military on the basis of the need to
fight terrorism and the organisations in South-
East Asia that are alleged to have links with
groups like al Qaeda.

Shortly after the first bombing in Bali on October
12, 2002, Australia’s then defence minister Robert
Hill announced in parliament: "We are aware of the
role that Kopassus has in relation to counter-
terrorism responsibilities in Indonesia, and
therefore it might well be in Australian interests
to redevelop the relationship". The elite Kopassus
regiment has been implicated in gross human rights
abuses in Aceh, West Papua and East Timor.

In December 2005, Hill reiterated the importance
of renewing links with Kopassus, under the guise
of count-terrorism operations, stating: "There
will be occasions when the best response available
is through Kopassus and we would like to see
Kopassus trained to be as capable as possible.“Within the framework of the”war on terror", the
US and Australian governments have driven the
process to normalise relations with the TNI. Over
the last few years this has ranged from low-level
officer training through to multilateral
exercises, like last year’s Exercise Kakadu, in
which Indonesian naval vessels participated. Hill
described Kakadu as a "major exercise in terms of
regional engagement".

Last November the US State Department declared
that it was overriding restrictions imposed by
Congress on US military ties with Indonesia, on
the basis of US national security. The Brtish-
based Indonesian human rights campaign Tapol
described the decision as one that "will encourage
the practice and expectation of military impunity,
which remains a major obstacle to genuine
democracy in Indonesia". While the cease-fire and
negotiations in Aceh are holding for the moment,
the present situation in West Papua highlights the
fundamentally repressive role of the TNI, and is
yet another example of why military ties with the
TNI must be ended.

The number of Indonesian troops in West Papua is
expected to double in the next five years,
including detachments from the elite Kostrad
forces. This will surely result in an increase in
human rights abuses and repression across West
Papua.

 HUMAN RIGHTS/LAW

Women activists yell no to antiporn bill

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2006

Jakarta — Activists from several NGOs dealing
with women’s issues on Saturday came out against
the much-debated pornography bill, which they
claimed would repress women.

The bill, which was drafted in part to protect
women from exploitation, would have the opposite
effect of placing limits on women’s expression and
freedoms, the activists said.

"We have always acknowledged pornography as a
disease that must be eradicated, but not through a
repressive law," said Vivi Widyawati of the
Mahardhika Women’s Working Group.

The activists say a bill that limits and
criminalizes women’s sexuality would never bear
fruit.

The draft, if passed, would lead to the
establishment of the National Anti-Pornography
Agency, which would have the authority to fine or
arrest anyone it considered to be acting
“indecently” or violating the country’s "moral
code“.”The law criminalizes the victims, the ones
exploited by pornography, and not the ones who
exploit them," said Vivi.

The NGOs fear the national agency, which the NGOs
refer to as the “morality police”, could be abused
by the authorities to meddle in the private lives
of citizens in the name of morality. "The
government should make use of the laws we already
have on the books (to stop pornography)," said
Vivi.

She said the laws on child protection, human
trafficking and the protection of witnesses, as
well as the Criminal Code, already gave
authorities the power they need to fight
pornography.

Instead of passing this new draft, the NGOs urged
the government to focus its efforts on introducing
sex education programs in schools to teach
children about sexuality, and limiting the
distribution and access to pornography, both in
the media and on the streets. "Early sex education
is urgently needed to help people understand
sexuality," said Mariana Amiruddin of Women’s
Journal Foundation.

The NGOs also believe the draft’s definition of
pornography is biased and out of line with already
existing definitions. The groups themselves define
pornography as the "business of sexually
exploiting women for commercial purposes". A
dictionary definition of pornography would be "the
depiction of erotic behavior to cause sexual
excitement".

The activists want the government’s definition of
pornography to contain several specific points,
including that women are the main objects, or
victims, of pornography, and that women are the
victims of sexual abuse caused by pornography.

"There is no fair or effective way to categorize
one’s values or morality," said Vivi in discussing
the moral values used by legislators as their
guideline in drafting the pornography bill.

She said women who were drawn into pornography
never became involved willingly, but were victims
of exploitation. "The problem of victims being
pulled into pornography has always been due to
multidimensional and multi-interpretational
problems," said Vivi, adding that one of the
factors included poverty.

The NGOs that united to denounce the pornography
bill included Arus Pelangi, Institut Ungu, LBH
Apik, Pokja Perempuan Mahardhika, Sekar, Srikandi
Demokrasi Indonesia, the National Secretariat of
Women’s Coalitions and the Women’s Journal
Foundation, in addition to individuals also
concerned by the issue.

"Societies that base themselves on patriarchal
thoughts have always considered the woman’s body
as taboo," said Mariana from the Women’s Journal
Foundation. "We, women, have always been blamed
for man’s inability to restrain his sexual
desires," she said.

**********

Truth is, SBY ’too busy’ for meeting

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2006

Tony Hotland and Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta — The
government has been criticized for the slow
process in the selection of members of the long-
awaited Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR)
tasked with resolving past gross human rights
violations.

The selection process has been stalled at the
presidential office for almost six months.

State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra said
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono could not
schedule a meeting as yet with the selection team
of the KKR members, which had screened and
submitted 42 names to him in August last year.

The President is to pick 21 of the 42 names before
handing them over to the House of Representatives
for endorsement.

The President issued a decree to establish the
selection team only in April, when the commission
itself should have been set up as required by the
law on the KKR’s establishment.

"The President wants to meet with the selection
team first to hear their considerations and input
in the selection. But the President hasn’t had the
time due to his busy activities," said Yusril.

The selection team consists of officials from the
Justice and Human Rights Ministry and several
human rights activists.

The KKR is mandated to focus on revealing the
truth behind the past human rights abuses during
the New Order administration of Soeharto, and
establishing a mechanism for reconciliation among
the parties concerned.

Director of the Institute for Policy Research and
Advocacy (ELSAM) Ifdhal Kasim said the government
had demonstrated a poor sense of justice given
that it saw no urgency in revealing the truth and
promoting reconciliation between the perpetrators
of human rights abuse and their victims.

"The President had the time to travel the world,
attend a lot of forums and events, even
insignificant ones. But he has no time to meet the
selection team here. Don’t think that enforcing
the law is only about corruption because reformasi
is also about settling human rights violation
cases," he said.

Ifdhal attributed the sluggish process to the
President’s indecision over political
considerations since once the commission is
officially established, its investigations may
target senior military officials, including
Yudhoyono’s seniors.

"This is a challenge for him to draw the line
between the old and new regime. There are
consequences that it may implicate his seniors
that he will have to face," he said.

Ifdhal’s view was shared by legislator Sidharto
Danusubroto, who led the House special committee
that deliberated the KKR law, saying the
government was most likely facing a dilemma.

"I sense that there’s a strong resistance within
the government since this commission and the idea
behind it is a completely new thing within our
history," he said.

He said truth-telling of history was not part of
Indonesia’s culture given that the official
version of history had always been told by those
in power.

"There are still political innuendoes even as we
speak on this KKR debate. I sense that the dilemma
that the government is dealing with is quite the
same with what we had when deliberating the law
for 16 months," said Sidharto.

Selected names from the President will require
endorsement from the House, which means more
politics will be involved. The President will have
to pick replacements if the House does not approve
the names, thus it is hard to say when the truth
shall be revealed.

**********

Kontras: TNI does not support Muchdi

Tempo Interactive - February 6, 2006

Eko Nopiansyah, Jakarta — Edwin Partogi, the
operational head of the Commission for Missing
Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), has
said that retired Major General Muchdi
Purwoprandjono’s request to the Muslim Defender
Team to assist him in the case of the murder of
human rights activist Munir proves that the TNI
(Indonesian military) does not support him.

"This is a positive signal that must be taken
advantage of by the police to conduct the
investigation", he said when contacted in Jakarta
on Sunday February 5.

According to Partogi, the request for assistance
from the Muslim Defender Team is an unusual
affair. Usually the TNI assists its members who
are affected by legal problems through the TNI’s
Legal Development Agency.

Partogi explain that what has become an obstacle
in the investigation is that Purwoprandjono is
that he is a former Kopassus general (elite
special forces). Partogi suspects that with the
involvement of the Muslim Defender Team the case
will now be turned into a religious issue.
"Religious groups must pay close attention, is
their position is in fact being profited from or
actually taken advantage of?"

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

House told to pursue Munir murder case

Jakarta Post - February 4, 2006

Jakarta — The House of Representatives must act
to reveal the masterminds behind the murder of
social justice campaigner Munir, rights groups
say.

Non-governmental organizations grouped in the
Action Solidarity Committee for Munir met with
House leaders Friday. They urged legislators to
question President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about
his commitment to resolving the murder case.

Munir’s widow, Suciwati, who joined the committee,
said the House was the “only hope” to push for a
new investigation into the case. "We want the
House to act," she said.

House deputy chairman Muhaimin Iskandar said
legislators would continue their efforts to
resolve the case.

Munir was found dead on board a Garuda flight
traveling from Jakarta to Amsterdam in September
2004. A Dutch autopsy found a deadly amount of
arsenic in the body.

A Garuda pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, was
recently convicted of the murder. Judges at his
trial noted Pollycarpus had made many calls to a
deputy head of the State Intelligence Agency
before the murder, leading many people to suspect
the agency was involved.

**********

New probe into Munir murder sought

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Jakarta — The Commission for Missing Persons and
Victims of Violence (Kontras) is calling for a
further investigation into the murder of human
rights activist Munir.

Kontras coordinator Usman Hamid said Wednesday
that Munir’s murder trial had ended in disarray,
with judges handing down a questionable 14-year
jail sentence to his convicted murderer,
Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto.

Usman said Central Jakarta District Court judges
had noted that Pollycarpus had made 41 phone calls
to Muhdi Purwo Prandjono, a deputy head of the
State Intelligence Agency (BIN), in the days prior
to Munir’s murder in 2004. However, neither the
judges nor prosecutors did anything to follow up
this evidence, he said.

The conversations give credence to allegations
that Pollycarpus worked for BIN. "Now that the
whole trial has ended up in confusion and the
verdict has satisfied no one... the case should be
investigated again from square one," Usman told
Antara.

Both Pollycarpus’ lawyers and the prosecutors have
appealed the verdict.

 CORRUPTION/COLLUSION/NEPOTISM

Antigraft, antimonopoly bodies join forces

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2006

Jakarta — The Corruption Eradication Commission
(KPK) and the Business Competition Supervisory
Commission (KPPU) entered into a collaborative
arrangement Monday to eliminate corruption and
unfair competition in government and state-
enterprise procurements.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by KPK
director Taufiqurahman Ruki and KPPU director
Syamsul Ma’arif at the KPPU headquarters in
Jakarta.

Taufiqurahman said the MoU was regarded as being
of major importance by the KPK as more than 70
percent of the cases investigated by the
commission have involved unfair tenders in which
officials and businesspeople colluded for their
mutual enrichment.

Meanwhile, Syamsul expressed hope that with the
signing of the MoU, his commission would be able
to help the KPK eliminate corruption from
government procurements.

"More than 90 percent of the unfair tenders we
have investigated have involved people other than
business players, such as government officials and
(procurement) committee members," he said, adding
that the KPPU had no power to take action against
non-business players.

He expressed the hope that after the signing of
the MoU, the two commissions would be able to
assist each other in implementing the 1999
Antimonopoly Law and the 2002 Anticorruption Law.

"The KPK will follow up on our findings of
involvement by corrupt officials in unfair
procurements and tenders," he said.

A World Bank report found that between 10 and 50
percent of corruption cases in Indonesia involved
government procurements of goods and services.

Indonesian Procurement Watch chairman Komarudin
Hidayat said recently that the lack of
transparency in government procurements caused
leakage of up to 60 percent in the state budget.
“This figure is unbelievable,” he said.

Syamsul said the high-profile graft case involving
the procurement of ink by the General Elections
Commission during the 2004 elections was a good
example of a case where the KPK and KPPU could
collaborate.

The KPK is currently investigating alleged graft
in the sale of two Pertamina oil tankers in 2004.
"We’re investigating the case, but we can’t give
you any details as yet," KPK deputy director Amien
Sunaryadi told reporters Monday.

In March 2005, the KPPU said Pertamina and three
of its business partners were guilty of colluding
with Bermuda-based Frontline Shipping Ltd. in the
sale of the two tankers.

**********

200 BUMN officials probed over graft

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2006

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan — At least 200 officials
at state-owned companies (BUMNs) are being
investigated for their alleged involvement in
graft and abuse of authority, State Minister for
State Enterprises Sugiharto said Saturday.

Sugiharto said several of the officials being
questioned had officially been named suspects, but
he declined to give their names at this early
point in the investigation.

The minister said he would not replace any of the
officials until the authorities made a final
decision on their legal status.

"In principle, the officials being questioned can
be replaced, but I have to abide by the principle
of presumption of innocence," Sugiharto said after
accompanying Vice President Jusuf Kalla to a
meeting with the board of directors of state
plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara IV in
Medan.

The minister acknowledged the investigation had
affected the performance of several state-owned
companies, because the officials being questioned
were hesitant to make any decisions or issue
orders during the legal process.

But Sugiharto said he had ordered the boards of
directors and commissioners of all state-owned
companies to carry on with their work during the
investigation.

"There are still many BUMNs that are managed
according to the principles of good corporate
governance. Compared to the 6,000 officials at the
158 BUMNs, the 200 officials being questioned
cannot be considered as representing the state of
the BUMNs as a whole," he said.

The minister said he fully supported the steps
taken by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to rid
state-owned companies of corruption, collusion and
nepotism, as stipulated in a 2004 presidential
instruction.

"I’ve taken steps to follow up the presidential
instruction, establishing a special team to study
and verify reports and signs of KKN (corruption,
collusion and nepotism) at BUMNs. If its findings
are enough to start the legal process, the team
will file a report with the prosecutor’s office
and an interdepartmental anticorruption team," he
said.

The minister said the special team was set up in
response to an increase in the number of
complaints of corruption at state-owned companies.
The status of the team is likely to be upgraded to
that of an inspectorate in the Office of the State
Minister for State Enterprises, to help it better
monitor the performance of BUMNs.

"The process of establishing the inspectorate has
entered the final stage. With this inspectorate,
the Office of the State Minister for State
Enterprises will have an instrument with the
authority and legal power to supervise the
management of BUMNs," he said. This decision was
taken, he said, to help prevent financial
malfeasance at state enterprises, which are
increasingly being expected to make significant
contributions to the nation’s economy.

The 2006 budget estimates the value of dividends
paid by BUMNs to the state at about Rp 23 trillion
(US$2.42 billion), a more than 200 percent
increase over the Rp 8.9 trillion in the 2005
budget.

**********

Few securities firms report suspicious
transactions

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Anissa S. Febrina,Jakarta — Overlapping audits
and unclear jurisdiction, not to mention the
financial services industry’s code of secrecy, are
the main reasons for low compliance of securities
companies in reporting suspicious transactions, an
association says.

Association of Indonesian Securities Companies
(APEI) chairwoman Lily Widjaja said in Jakarta on
Wednesday that only four of the association’s 150
members reported suspicious transactions since
rules against money laundering took effect last
January.

"Our members are not well informed about matters
concerning compliance audit jurisdiction," Lily
said after a workshop on enhancing the
participation of the capital markets in combating
money laundering.

Securities companies, she added, only acknowledged
that they came under the jurisdiction of the
Capital Market Supervisory Agency (Bapepam). "Some
companies honestly do not know whether it is legal
or not to hand over financial information to the
Financial Transaction Reports Analysis Center
(PPATK)." In order to intensify the campaign
against money laundering, the government plans to
expand the powers of the watchdog, the PPATK.

It will be given the power to seek reports from
non-bank financial institutions, including
securities companies. Bapepam has required
securities firms to report suspicious transactions
since January last year.

"Bapepam and the PPATK need to work more closely
together in auditing securities companies and
ensuring the upholding of the code of secrecy in
respect of every report," Lily said.

In reality, she added, although the
confidentiality of such reports was guaranteed by
law, there were cases in which sensitive
information had been leaked to the public.

This made companies even more reluctant to submit
reports on suspicious transactions, she said.

Bapepam legal bureau head Robinson Simbolon
explained that in the future there would be much
stricter enforcement of the code of secrecy.

He added that his bureau and the PPATK would
collaborate in auditing securities firms. "We have
signed an MoU with the PPATK to avoid overlapping
audits in the future." Bapepam director Darmin
Nasution said that strict sanctions would be
imposed on companies failing to report suspicious
transactions.

Currently, financial services providers face fines
of between Rp 250 million (about US$26,250) and Rp
1 billion for not reporting such transactions.

"The number of reports has increased from only
four last year to 18 this month alone," he said,
adding that this figure was still far less than
hoped for.

Money laundering continues to be a major problem
with Indonesia still being monitored by global
anti money-laundering watchdog, the Financial
Action Task Force (FATF), although it was removed
from the list of Non-Cooperative Countries and
Territories (NCCT) last February.

The FATF is set to review Indonesia’s situation at
a plenary session in Cape Town, South Africa, in
mid-February to decide whether the country can be
removed from the list of countries being
monitored.

 REGIONAL/COMMUNAL CONFLICTS

Ambon refugees still waiting 7 years on

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2006

M. Azis Tunny, Ambon — Seven years since a bloody
Muslim-Christian conflict first erupted in Ambon
in January 1999, thousands of victims are still
crammed into makeshift shelters for displaced
persons.

Presently, 15,788 families are still living in
makeshift camps for in Ambon city, waiting to be
relocated or sent back to their hometowns.

Long queues of refugees can be seen regularly at
local government offices, asking officials whether
the building materials or construction aid the
state is supposed to provide them are ready.

Head of the Maluku Refugees Coalition, Pieter
Pattiwaelapia, told The Jakarta Post recently that
the situation in Ambon was probably the longest-
running internal refugee problem in the country.

Despite holding yellow cards, which entitle them
to receive assistance, the displaced people have
been led on a bureaucratic wild-goose chase, and
are confused by the many layers of procedures they
have to navigate, Pieter said.

The provincial administration earlier declared the
refugee problem would be solved by Jan. 31 this
year, an extended deadline after it failed to meet
its earlier promise to completely bring an end to
the problem in December.

But while the provincial and local administrations
say they have taken steps to improve the
situation, Pieter says little has changed.

Three successive Maluku governors, from M. Saleh
Latuconsina, Sinyo Sarundajang to the incumbent,
Karel Albert Ralahalu, have not dealt with the
matter, he said.

The displaced people are disappointed by the lack
of an effective system — with the government
neglecting its technical guidelines for the
reconstruction of their houses. And an incomplete
database means thousands of families are not
getting the help they need, he said.

The houses that have been built are not integrated
into the proper facilities the government promised
in its reconstruction blueprint, which envisioned
incorporated schools, health centers and places of
worship, Pieter said. As a result, many of the
houses have ended up abandoned.

Maluku councillor Abdurrachman blamed the delays
on lack of detailed data about the refugees, which
he said had frustrated officials’ attempts to
determine what groups had already received
assistance.

Earlier, the deputy speaker of the Maluku
provincial council, Jhon Mailoa, also blamed a
lack of valid data for the repeated deadline
extensions. "We have a special committee to deal
with refugees, but we’ve discovered that its
numbers vary from those registered with the
administration," he said, without giving details
of the numbers.

He also advised the provincial administration not
to completely transfer responsibility for the
refugees to regency or municipal administrations.
"The refugee problem should be addressed by both
the provincial and regency/municipal
administrations," Jhon said.

Religious violence between Muslims and Christians
rocked the city for nearly two years from early
1999 to late 2000. Thousands of people died and
thousands more were made homeless.

**********

Police, soldiers ’fanned’ Poso sectarian war

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Jakarta — Lawyers, seeking a stay of execution
for three Christian men on death row convicted for
their roles in Poso’s religious violence five
years ago, say they have new evidence pointing to
security officers’ involvement in the conflict.

Together with relatives of the convicts, the
lawyers submitted a list to the National Police
headquarters on Wednesday of 16 people they said
were key instigators of the Muslim-Christian
violence that broke out in May 2000.

The lawyers grouped in the Indonesian Advocacy
Service for Justice and Peace said the documents
suggested military and police personnel had
provided arms to both sides to fan the conflict.

"We have documents indicating that law enforces
might be connected to the conflict," said Roy
Rening, one of the lawyers. The papers had been
submitted to the police, he said.

The three convicts on the death row are Fabianus
Tibo, Dominggus Da Silva, and Marinus Riwu. Among
the delegates were Tibo’s son, Robert Tibo;
Marinus’ wife Yasinta Goong; and Dominggus’
stepfather, Adam Ata.

"We hope a thorough investigation by the police
can reveal the real perpetrators who masterminded
the killings in the region," Roy said.

Poso is a town equally divided between Christians
and Muslims. In 2000 and 2001, the province became
the scene of battles between two sectarian groups,
leaving about 1,000 people dead.

On July 25 of that year, the police arrested Tibo,
Da Silva and Riwu, all Christians. The Poso
District Court found them guilty of leading an
attack on a Muslim village and sentenced them to
death in 2001.

The Supreme Court denied the convicts’ an appeal
after they requested it in 2001. The President
also denied their request for clemency in November
last year.

Activists and religious leaders have urged the
authorities to conduct a further investigation
into the violence and requested a stay of
executions for the three men.

Recently, the Humanitarian Team for the Poso
Conflict called for the Attorney General’s Office
to delay the execution, saying it was possible the
three men did not lead the attack.

Roy said the 16 men on the lawyers’ list belonged
to the militant Christian “Red Group” led by Janis
Simangunsong and Paulus Tungkanan.

"(Da Silva and Riwu) were just ordinary people who
met Tibo and asked him to go along with them to
Poso. Tibo and his friends went to Poso because
Janis had informed him that an orphanage in Poso
would be attacked," Roy said.

Roy said he had three bundles of testimony
documents from residents supporting the convicts’
alibi and role in the attack. "With this, we hope
that the authorities would delay the execution
because there are key witnesses in this case,"
said Roy.

National Police spokesmen Brig. Gen. Anton Bachrul
Alam said that the police would follow up the
report with an investigation. "But it will take
time because we have to gather evidence before we
can name suspects,“Anton said.”However, if
security personnel are proven to be involved in
this case, we will still take action against
them."

 ENVIRONMENT

Logging provokes nature’s wrath: Activists

Jakarta Post - February 1, 2006

Hera Diani, Jakarta — Like goldfish, people seem
to have a memory span that is all too short.

This tendency might be forgiven in love — which
can not only cause blindness but a faltering
memory. But in other matters, like environmental
destruction and deforestation, can we afford to
makes the same mistakes ad nauseum.

Not a year goes by without a “natural” disaster
that is in part caused by deforestation. Floods
and landslides are common during the rainy season,
while fires, especially forest fires, are a hazard
of the dry season.

Just a few days into the new year, more than 100
people had died in floods in East Java and West
Java, and thousands of others were forced to
evacuate to higher ground.

Government officials blamed abnormally high
precipitation and other such occurrences, but
experts said that despite natural phenomena, it
all boiled down to forest crime.

"The precipitation is indeed high, but the level
of absorption is low due to deforestation," said
Hariadi Kartodihardjo, environmental activist and
former deputy of the state minister of the
environment, in a discussion Thursday.

The rate of deforestation is rapidly increasing,
from 1.7 million hectares per year in the 1990s to
a staggering 2.83 million hectares per year at
present, placing the country among those with the
highest rates of tropical forest loss.

The remaining 120.35 million hectares of forested
area in the country are threatened by forest
concessionaires, primary forest conversion — land
clearing but no reforestation, and rampant illegal
logging, with over 50 million cubic meters of
timber being stolen and smuggled out of the
country every year.

Togu Manurung of Forest Watch Indonesia said the
government was a major threat for forest
conservation as it had let the problem go on for
years, with limited legal action against the
perpetrators.

"We know that illegal logging is an organized
crime, everybody is aware that it is backed by
individuals from the police and military, but it
continues to go on. A number of recommendations
have been made to the government, but they’re not
implemented," he told the discussion.

Had the government been able to overcome the
problem, he added, the state would not be losing
around US$3 to $4 billion a year.

Activists and experts are particularly concerned
about forested areas of Java, where 80 percent of
the total of three million hectares of forest is
in critical condition.

With over 60 percent, or around 130 million
people, of Indonesia’s population living on the
island, there is a high risk of human fatalities
in deforestation-related natural disasters.

Between 1999 and 2003, at least 26 floods and
landslides occurred. More disasters are predicted
as the road network in the southern part of the
island expands.

"Data shows roads built in Indonesia post-1980s
are not aimed at advancing the goods and services
industry and increasing export. They only benefit
investors. While the environmental and social
impacts are high," said political scientist
Andrinof Chaniago of the Habibie Center.

Hariadi said that it all boiled down to structural
problems in the government, whereby every
department and state-owned company was required to
generate income.

"It’s all about commodities — short-term profit
— but there is no sustainability. If we just let
the forest be — it already benefits us — but the
’green GDP’ (gross domestic product) has never
been calculated," he said.

Togu said illegal logging was a crime and the only
way to address it from outside Indonesia was to
bring in new legislation prohibiting illegally
sourced timber and wood products from entering
into the markets of the European Union, Japan,
North America and other importers.

He said importing countries that ignored forest
crime in Indonesia were paving the way for forest
destruction.

"But Indonesia has the main responsibility since
the crime is happening in its territory. Real
commitment and action are necessary to combat
illegal logging and log smuggling.

"We are in a crisis, emergency and radical
measures need to be taken now, as we are indeed
running out of time," he said.

**********

Outrage over plans for palam oil plantation in
rain forest

Agence France Presse - February 7, 2006

Jakarta — Activists and economists are outraged
at Indonesian plans to cut a swathe through one of
the world’s largest remaining areas of pristine
rain forest to create a massive Chinese-funded
palm oil plantation.

The remote stretch of land on Borneo island, home
to countless species of rare birds, plants and
mammals including the largest remaining wild
orangutan population, could be decimated in what
critics fear is a ruse to access timber.

The 2,000-kilometre-long, five-kilometre wide
(1,242-mile, three-mile) plantation proposed by
the economics ministry in mid-2005 would traverse
almost the entire border between Indonesia and
Malaysia, slicing through three national parks.

"The question is, why there on the border, when
Indonesia has such huge abandoned, unproductive
palm oil plantations or degraded forest areas
across the country," said Togu Manurung, from
Forest Watch Indonesia.

Indonesia is already losing rain forest equal to
half the size of the Netherlands every year, or
some two million hectares (4.9 million acres),
conservation group WWF estimates.

Prominent economist Faisal Basri accuses the
economics ministry of offering timber in exchange
for Chinese investment in infrastructure projects,
knowing that it is unlikely the area will actually
be farmed once it is cleared.

News of the planned plantation hit headlines weeks
after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono returned
from a trip to Beijing last July which saw several
pacts inked.

Details of what was agreed on the plantation have
not been made public. "I think that the final
objective of the project is to exploit logs —
yes, giving free timber in exchange for developing
infrastructure," Basri told AFP.

The spoils would include valuable ramin timber,
exports of which are officially banned by
Indonesia. "It’s too ridiculous from an
environmental point of view, but also from a
technical point of view too," Basri said.

Separate studies by Indonesia’s agriculture
ministry and WWF have found the region is too
mountainous to support effective palm oil farming,
which is most productive on flat terrain.

A preliminary ministry study found that only 10
percent was suitable for palm oil, Ahmad Dimyati,
director-general for plantations in the
agricultural ministry, told AFP. Greenomics, an
environmental auditing group, has estimated
Indonesia would lose 15 trillion rupiah (1.5
billion dollars) annually for five years after the
area is cleared, then 2.7 billion dollars for each
of the next five years.

The figures take into account the loss of legally
and illegally logged timber, loss of access to
forest resources for tribal people located along
the border, and the cost of landslides and
flooding.

The economics ministry argues that the plantation
would bring an estimated eight billion dollars in
investment to an impoverished backwater and create
as many as half a million jobs.

"The border area has many serious problems, mainly
poverty. Compared to other parts of Indonesia, it
is behind," deputy coordinating economics minister
Bayu Krisnamurti told AFP.

Developing the under-policed border region would
also strengthen security and create a government
presence, thus reducing the smuggling of illegal
logs and other goods into Malaysia, Krisnamurti
said.

The deputy minister, who insisted development
would take into account people’s welfare, national
security and environmental concerns, said
criticism of the proposal was being evaluated.

Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono said this week
the overstretched military was unable to guard
much of Indonesia’s vast borders, so economic
development of remote regions was part of defence
policy.

Environment groups say the clearing of the land
would speed up the extinction of the orangutan and
be remembered as one of Indonesia’s largest
agricultural failures.

"In 2005, when they stated they would like to have
the plantation along the border, we were shocked,"
said the WWF’s Fitrian Ardiansyah.

The area is home to 14 out of 23 of Borneo’s
watersheds, he said, warning that clearing it
could damage clean water sources for much of
Indonesian Borneo.

At least three new species have been discovered
each month in the past decade in the heart of
Borneo, WWF says. Development could wipe out
hundreds of species and also prevent scientists
from researching more undiscovered plant, animal
and fish species, it warns.

"Borneo is a hotspot for biodiversity. Along with
the Congo, it has an amazing level of
biodiversity," said the WWF’s Bambang Supriyanto.

Large mammals, such as orangutans and the Borneo
pygmy elephant, would be particularly affected
because they need vast areas of interconnected
forest to survive, he noted.

"Palm oil is the number one enemy of orangutans
and all wildlife in Borneo," Birute Galdikas,
founder of Camp Leakey, Kalimantan’s main
orangutan sanctuary. told AFP in 2005 just before
the plans were announced.

"Time is running out for the orangutans because
the palm oil plantations are spreading. Illegal
logging may seem horrific but at least illegal
logging leaves some canopy in place. Palm oil
plantations leave nothing."

**********

Scientists find ’lost world’ in Indonesia

Associated Press - February 7, 2006

Robin McDowell, Jakarta — Soon after scientists
landed by helicopter in the mist-shrouded
mountains of one of Indonesia’s most remote
provinces, they stumbled on a primitive egg-laying
mammal that simply allowed itself to be picked up
and brought to their field camp.

Describing a “Lost World” — apparently never
visited by humans — members of the team said
Tuesday they also saw large mammals that have been
hunted to near-extinction elsewhere and discovered
dozens of exotic new species of frogs, butterflies
and palms.

“We’ve only scratched the surface,” said Bruce
Beehler, a co-leader of the monthlong trip to the
Foja Mountains, an area in the eastern province of
Papua with roughly 2 million acres of pristine
tropical forest.

"There was not a single trail, no sign of
civilization, no sign of even local communities
ever having been there," he told The Associated
Press in a telephone interview from Washington,
D.C.

Two headmen from the Kwerba and Papasena tribes,
the customary landowners of the mountain range,
accompanied the expedition, and "they were as
astounded as we were at how isolated it was,“Beehler said.”As far as they knew, neither of
their clans had ever been to the area."

The December expedition was organized by US-based
Conservation International and the Indonesian
Institute of Sciences, and funded by the National
Geographic Society and several other
organizations.

Minutes after the small team of American,
Indonesian and Australian scientists were dropped
into a boggy lake bed and set up camp near the
mountain range’s western summit, they said they
encountered a new species of bird — a red-faced
and wattled honeyeater. The next day they saw
Berlepsch’s Six-wired Bird of Paradise, described
by hunters in the 19th century and named for the
wires that extend from its head in place of a
crest.

They watched in amazement as a male bird performed
a courtship dance for a female, shaking the long
feathers on his head, and later took the first
known photograph of the bird.

The scientists said they discovered 20 frog
species — including a microhylid frog less than a
half-inch long — four new butterfly species, and
at least five new types of palms.

Among their most memorable experiences were their
encounters with the Long-beaked Echidna, members
of the primitive egg-laying group of mammals
called the Monotremes, which twice allowed
themselves to be picked up and brought to the
scientists’ camp for observation. Beehler
attributed the lack of fear displayed by the
long-snouted spine-covered Echidnas (pronounced
eh-KID-na) to the fact that they probably had
never come into contact with humans.

But other animals, like the Golden-mantled Tree
Kangaroo, an arboreal jungle-dweller previously
thought to have been hunted to near-extinction,
were much more shy, he said, and quickly
disappeared into the dense forest after being
spotted.

Though the scientists’ findings will have to be
published in scientific journals and reviewed by
peers before being officially classified as new
species, other environmentalists said the
discoveries were hardly surprising in a country
renowned for its rich biodiversity.

"There are many species that have not been
identified" in Indonesia, said Chairul Saleh of
the World Wildlife Fund, which has made hundreds
of its own discoveries in the sprawling
archipelago in the last 10 years.

Papua, the scene of a decades-long separatist
rebellion that has killed an estimated 100,000
people, is one of Indonesia’s most remote regions
geographically and politically, and access by
foreigners is tightly restricted.

The scientists said they needed six permits before
they could legally visit the mountains located on
the western side of New Guinea island.

Stephen Richards of the South Australia Museum in
Adelaide said he and other team members got a
glimpse of what the island "was like 50,000 years
ago, because there’s been no hunting, no impact of
transport or anything like that." Because of the
rich diversity in the forest, the group rarely had
time to stray more than a few miles from their
base camp.

Beehler, vice president of Conservation
International’s Melanesia Center for Biodiversity
Conservation, said he hopes to return this year
with other scientists.

One of the reasons for the rain forest’s
isolation, he said, was that only a few hundred
people live in the region and game in the
mountain’s foothills is so abundant they have no
reason to venture into the jungle’s interior.

There did not appear to be any immediate
conservation threat to the area, which has the
status of a wildlife sanctuary, he said.

"No logging permits are given to this area, there
is no transport system — not a single road,“Beehler said.”But clearly, with time, everything
is a threat. In the next few decades there will be
strong demands, especially if you think of the
timber needs of nearby countries like China and
Japan. They will be very hungry for logs."

*********

Indonesian says waste from mine tainted fish

New York Times - February 4, 2006

Jane Perlez, Manado — A star government witness
in a criminal trial against the American mining
giant Newmont told a court on Friday that waste
from the company’s mine near here was deposited in
the sea at too shallow a depth, causing the
contamination of fish.

The witness, Masnellyarti Hilman, a deputy
environment minister, said elevated levels of
arsenic in the fish and the “reduced biodiversity”
in the bay near the gold mine demonstrated
pollution.

The company vigorously denies the Indonesian
government’s accusations of pollution and contends
that the waste from the mine, near Buyat Bay on
the island of Sulawesi, was safely disposed of
through a pipe that ran about a half-mile from the
shore into the equatorial waters. As soon as Ms.
Hilman mentioned pollution, the lead lawyer for
the company, Palmer Situmorang, protested to the
judge, who ruled that the word should not be used
until there was a verdict.

The president of Newmont in Indonesia, Richard B.
Ness, who has been charged along with the company,
said he rejected Ms. Hilman’s argument on the
impact of the mine waste. "That has to be left to
outside witnesses," Mr. Ness said.

The trial, a rare case of a major American
corporation facing criminal charges in a
developing country, pits one of Indonesia’s valued
foreign investors against the nation’s little-
tested environmental laws. The government took
action in 2004 after villagers near the mine
complained of tumors, skin rashes and dizziness,
for which they blamed the company.

Newmont, a Denver-based corporation and the
world’s biggest gold producer, has said the
illnesses are common to poor coastal communities,
and denies responsibility. Most of the villagers,
citing fears for their health, moved to another
area in Sulawesi last June.

The deputy minister did not make any connection
between the contaminated fish and the people’s
health. She said only that the villagers ate the
fish. Experts have said it would be virtually
impossible to prove that the mine caused the
illnesses.

The chief environmental issue in the trial
involves the disposal of the waste, known as
tailings, by a method called submarine tailing
disposal, which is essentially banned in the
United States. Ms. Hilman testified that Newmont’s
1993 operational license for the mine called for
the company to place the waste below the
thermocline, a layer below which water is colder
and has less oxygen.

In 1999, she said, a study by the Environment
Ministry and the University of Sam Ratulangi here
in Manado found that the thermocline was at a
depth of 110 meters, or 120 yards. But the
company, she said, released the waste from the
pipe at a depth of 82 meters, or 90 yards, where
the waters were still warm. At that depth the
heavy metals in the tailings — arsenic, for one
— were able to enter the food chain, she said.

Newmont has consistently argued that the arsenic
remained inert and insoluble in the ocean.

Another issue in the trial is the government’s
accusation that the company did not have the
proper permit to dispose of its waste.

Ms. Hilman, who has a degree from a prominent
mining school in the United States, the Colorado
School of Mines, and is known among the foreign
mining companies in Indonesia for being a stickler
on pollution, argued that the company had failed
to obtain the right permits for toxic waste.

"You can dump waste if you follow the standards
and have the permit," Ms. Hilman said.

The company was granted a temporary six-month
permit in July 2000 by the environment minister at
the time, Sonny Keraf, who told Newmont in a
letter that a permanent permit would depend on the
company’s completing an environmental risk
assessment, Ms. Hilman said.

She told the court that Newmont had completed the
risk assessment but that it had been rejected by
the Environment Ministry because the methodology
was faulty.

 ISLAM/RELIGION

Protests spread in major cities over caricature

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2006

Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya — Despite calls for
restraint, protests intensified in the country’s
main cities Monday over the publication in
European media of caricatures depicting the
Prophet Muhammad.

Protesters in most of the cities decried what they
considered the use of freedom of the press to
justify insulting Islam.

About 200 protesters from the Islamic Defenders
Front (FPI) in West Java town of Bandung
threatened to conduct searches for Danish
nationals in the country if Denmark — where the
series of 12 cartoons was first published last
September — did not try those responsible.

Protest coordinator Asep Syarifuddin warned that
the group would transport Danes to the airport to
be repatriated. "We find the Danish government
hasn’t really apologized due to its support of the
right of freedom of speech... it doesn’t care that
they offended millions of Muslims in the world,"
Asep, who did not name a date for the searches to
begin, said in his speech outside the Gedung Sate
building, which houses the West Java governor’s
and legislature offices.

In the East Java capital Surabaya, about 1,000
protesters from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS)
and the FPI held a noisy demonstration outside the
Danish honorary consul’s office Monday. They
pelted the building with rotten eggs and set the
Danish flag on fire.

As they held banners proclaiming "Boycott Danish
products“and”Free is free but respect us,
please", the protesters were blocked by a
barricade of hundreds of police officers.

Four PKS representatives eventually met the
secretary of the Danish honorary consul, Linda
Irawati, and several staff, to deliver their
demand that Copenhagen should be responsible for
the publication. They said freedom of the press
was not tantamount to freedom to blaspheme.

About 100 protesters from various groups,
including FPI and the Association of Islamic
Students (HMI), protested at the main post office
building in Yogyakarta.

The chairman of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council,
Irfan S. Awwas, said the publication was an insult
to Islamic beliefs and equated Islam with
terrorism.

Protesters also called on media which have
published the cartoons to apologize to Muslims and
pledge not to repeat the act.

"Making the Prophet the enemy is the same as
making an enemy of Muslims. If their (Muslim)
demands are ignored, it will trigger widespread
anger from Muslims from various countries," Irfan
told Antara news service.

The chairman of the country’s second largest
Muslim group Muhammadiyah, Din Syamsudin, said
those responsible in Europe for publishing the
cartoons deserved harsh treatment.

"Such an act really insults the feeling of Muslims
and undermines the value of respecting other
religions," he said after speaking at Sultan Agung
Islamic University in Semarang Monday.

"If they’re making excuses, saying it comes under
freedom of the press, then in reality, they are
actually violating the freedom itself. In this
case, the freedom is to perform one’s religion and
respect other religions. So it’s natural if
Muslims are upset." He also urged Muslims to be
circumspect in their response. "Muslims should
develop and prioritize dialog to respond to every
matter." Amid the mounting protests, the
government assured Danish Ambassador Niels Erik
Andersen of his personal safety and of his staff.
Andersen, who met with members of FPI after they
protested at the embassy last Friday, visited the
foreign ministry Monday morning after receiving
information of more demonstrations.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said the
government could not suppress the freedom of
expression of the demonstrators.

"The ambassador expressed his concern over the
safety of himself and his staff, but we told him
that as a host, we are obliged to protect our
foreign diplomats. I hope the assurance put the
ambassador at ease," Hassan said in Jakarta.

**********

Muslims rally in four cities over cartoons

Reuters - February 6, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesian Muslims staged noisy but
peaceful protests in four cities on Monday
demanding Denmark apologize over controversial
cartoons that Muslims say insult Islam and the
Prophet Mohammad.

About 200 protesters from a leading Islamist party
rallied near a building housing the Danish embassy
in Jakarta.

The embassy is on the 25th floor and the flag-
waving demonstrators from the Prosperous Justice
Party (PKS) were barred from entering the lobby,
where unruly protesters from a hardline group
rampaged on Friday.

The protesters shouted slogans condemning the
caricatures, which were first published by Danish
daily Jyllands-Posten last year. "Denmark must
apologize for disgracing the Prophet," yelled the
protesters. One banner read: "Insulting the
Prophet = Insulting Islam." There were also small
protests by separate groups in three other cities.
There was no violence.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday
joined the chorus of condemnation from the world’s
most populous Muslim nation over the controversial
cartoons, which include the Prophet wearing a
bomb-like turban.

Outrage has erupted in the Middle East and other
countries in the Muslim world after more European
newspapers published the cartoons, which were
originally published last September. Muslims
consider any images of Mohammad to be blasphemous.

A number of European newspapers have said press
freedom was more important than the protests and
boycotts they have provoked. Many Arab
commentators have said that defense rang hollow
because, they said, European media protected
Judaism and Israel from criticism.

**********

Government told to take action over Ahmadiyah
attack

Jakarta Post - February 6, 2006

Jakarta — The government has been called upon to
take action against those responsible for
Saturday’s attack on houses owned by members of
the Jamaah Ahmadiyah congregation in West Lombok
regency, West Nusa Tenggara.

Former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid told
the government to arrest the attackers because it
should uphold the 1945 Constitution guaranteeing
citizens’ rights, including freedom of religion.

"The problem is the government is afraid. It
doesn’t have the courage to uphold the
Constitution. How can we be a great (nation)
without upholding the Constitution?" he told
Antara on the sidelines of a seminar in Jakarta on
Sunday.

He added that the government did not educate
people on how to face differences, including those
between different faiths.

The country’s second largest Muslim organization,
Muhammadiyah, condemned the attack and called for
the government to take firm legal action against
the perpetrators.

"It (the attack) was an un-Islamic act. No
religion justifies violence as a means to resolve
differences in faiths," Muhammadiyah chairman Din
Syamsuddin told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

On Saturday, a mob attacked and set fire to dozens
of houses owned by Ahmadiyah members in Segerongan
village, Lingsar district. Hundreds of police
officers were deployed to the area to prevent the
violence from spreading.

Following the attack, 125 members of Ahmadiyah
were taken to a shelter in Transito Majeluk,
Mataram. Several of them, according to detik.com,
had threatened to seek asylum in Australia and
Canada.

Ahmadiyah’s advisor, Syamsir Ali, said he
“regretted” the incident, which took place in
front of police officers. "We live in a country
where every criminal should be arrested and put on
trial, but none of the attackers here were
arrested," he told Antara while visiting Ahmadiyah
members in Mataram on Sunday.

He said the incident had been reported to the
Human Rights Commission. "Residents living in
Transito seem to be neglected as there is no water
in the shelter and food is very limited," he said.

A religious figure in Lombok, Hazmi Hamzar, said
Sunday the presence of Ahmadiyah would not be
tolerated by Muslims because their teachings went
against Islam.

"We call on Ahmadiyah to immediately decide
whether they want to return to real Islamic
teachings, or if they don’t, maybe just call
Ahmadiyah a religion so it will not disrupt
Muslims here," he was quoted by Antara.

The Indonesian Ulema Council has issued an edict
declaring the teachings of Ahmadiyah forbidden as
they are considered heretical.

Ahmadiyah was set up in Pakistan in the 19th
century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The organization
has been in Indonesia since 1926 and was formally
recognized in 1953. It is estimated that there are
200,000 followers of Ahmadiyah in Indonesia.

The controversy hinges on Ahmadiyah’s belief that
the last prophet was not Muhammad as mainstream
Muslims believe, but Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

**********

Art on trial as obscenity furor heats up

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2006

Abdul Khalik, Jakarta — Leave the judgment on
esthetic values of an artwork to the critics, some
will say, and let the police gauge the morality of
the works. And that is exactly what is happening
in a high-profile case from last year.

Police have named a trio of artists, a
photographer and influential art curator among the
suspects in a case they are building on obscenity
and blasphemy from a photo exhibition at the CP
Biennale 2005’s Urban/Culture, held in October
2005.

City police chief of the general crime unit Sr.
Comr. Moh. Jaelani confirmed the naming of the
suspects, and said there was a total of six
suspects who were scheduled to be summoned Friday.

"We already summoned them as (potential) suspects
months ago and from the questioning, we have
enough corroborating evidence to name them
suspects," Jaelani told The Jakarta Post.

Suspect is often used as a preliminary term to the
laying of charges against an individual. He said
their names would be revealed on Friday.

However, noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, who will
defend three of the suspects, identified five of
them: model-actor Anjasmara and model Isabel
Yahya, who were the subject of the photos, artist
Agus Suwage, photographer Davy Linggar and art
critic Jim Supangkat.

"Right now, only Agus, Davy and Isabel have
appointed me as their lawyer. We are now trying to
contact the other two. We will discuss what steps
we will take first," Todung told the Post.

They were involved in putting on a pictorial
called Pinkswing Park, showing Anjasmara, a former
teenage model and popular TV star, and Isabel
posing nude in a lush, Eden-like setting. Their
genitalia was covered with figleaves in the
photographs, shown at the Bank Indonesia Museum in
Central Jakarta.

Todung, also a prominent human rights activist,
blasted the police move as an attack on people’s
freedom of expression. "This is a very bad example
for similar cases in the future. It will
negatively impact people’s freedom of expression,"
he said.

Artist Agus said he was surprised the police
continued to investigate the case. "It has been
months already, and I thought the case was over,"
he told the Post by telephone from his Yogyakarta
home. "But I am ready for whatever the risk is
because Davy and me have our reasons why we
produced the artwork."

The investigation was prompted by a complaint from
the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) that the photos
were blasphemous. The group also argued the
exhibition could contribute to moral delinquency
of youth.

Agus said nothing obscene or pornographic was
intended in the works. "It’s a depiction of urban
people. It’s kind of like they have their own
heaven in the city, while we know such a depiction
is ironic to what we see in real life."

Police are likely to charge the artists under the
Criminal Code’s Article 156 on blasphemy, which
carries a maximum sentence of five years’
imprisonment, as well as 282 on obscenity — for
the public display of a pornographic picture or
writing — with a maximum 18-month prison term.

University of Indonesia legal expert Luhut M.P.
Pangaribuan said the police should be careful to
consider the photographs in the context of part of
an art exhibition.

"They should see it as an art event. The police
must be very clear in making a conclusion that it
was an insult to a certain religion or (showed)
pornographic acts. In what way? Also, the
exhibition was held in a special building
designated for specific viewers who understand
art. So, it was not for just any individuals," he
told the Post.

Organizers of the art event — the second of its
kind — immediately declared the event was closed
only days after it opened. The decision was made
when infotainment tabloid and television gossip
shows blew up the case by focusing on Anjasmara.

**********

Muslims storm Danish embassy building

Agence France Presse - February 3, 2006

Jakarta — Hardline Indonesian Muslims stormed
into an office block housing the Danish embassy
protesting cartoons portraying the Prophet
Mohammed in Denmark, as others demanded death for
the cartoonist.

About 100 members of the Front of the Defenders of
Islam (FPI) massed outside the building, chanting:
“Let’s go jihad! We’re ready for jihad!”. One of
their banners said: "Let’s slaughter the Danish
ambassador!"

The group, mostly wearing their trademark white
uniforms with skullcaps, broke through security to
enter the building’s lobby, where they smashed
lamps and threw eggs, but were quickly ejected by
police and their own leaders. Several then pelted
the embassy’s external coat of arms with eggs.

Maksuni, the leader of the protestors, said
ambassador Niels Andersen met with three
representatives of the group and promised to issue
an apology to the media in Indonesia, the world’s
largest Islamic country.

"The ambassador has agreed to apologise in the
local electronic and print media in one or two
days, after they have prepared a draft and they
will translate it,“he said.”If they don’t apologise as they promised we will
kick them out of the country, and we will ask the
government to withdraw its ambassador from
Denmark," he added. The group dispersed
peacefully.

Indonesian Vice President Yusuf Kalla told
reporters he had protested to the Danish envoy.
"Of course as Muslims we object to it and I have
conveyed that message to the Danish ambassador,"
he said, adding however that the Danish government
could not be held responsible for the cartoons
because Denmark had a free press.

Danish daily Jyllands-Posten originally published
12 cartoons, some of which depicted the prophet as
a terrorist, last September, touching off protests
and a boycott of Danish products in most Arab
nations.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen,
while apologising if Muslims were offended, has
refused to apologise for their publication, saying
that would constitute meddling in press freedom. A
string of newspapers in various European countries
have also reprinted the sketches in the name of
freedom of expression.

The Islamic Community Forum, an umbrella for
several dozen Indonesian religious groups, in a
statement called on the Danish government "to
apologise to Muslims around the world and sentence
to death the creator of the caricatures and anyone
who conspires with him". Rachmat Kurnia, leader of
Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a Forum member, told a
congregation of about 100 Muslims after Friday
prayers that there was "a big agenda among enemies
of Islam to discredit Islam. We cannot just keep
quiet".

Dozens of FPI protesters also massed outside the
Indonesian tabloid Rakyat Merdeka, which
reportedly published several of the cartoons on
its website earlier this week.

In Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, a
group of about 300 Muslims rallied outside the
Danish representative office. They later moved to
the US consulate, accusing the Bush administration
of a campaign to stigmatise Islam.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry spokesman Yuri
Thamrin told a press briefing earlier in the day
that the publication of the cartoons was "about
insensitivity and perhaps it also represents so-
called Islamophobia".

He said that "as a democracy, Indonesia is fully
aware of the importance of freedom of expression,
but having acknowledged the sanctity of this
concept, we also believe that this should not be
used to justify slander, defamation to sacred
religious symbols".

To Muslims the cartoons are blasphemous as Islam
prohibits any images of the prophet.

**********

Muhammadiyah leaning toward more conservative bent

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2006

Hera Diani, Jakarta — It’s a matter of
interpretation whether the departure of Muslim
scholar Dawam Rahardjo from Muhammadiyah was a
resignation or dismissal.

Yet in his opinion and that of other Muslim
scholars, his exit indicates a growing and
unbending conservatism of the country’s second
largest Muslim organization.

Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said
Wednesday Dawam was not fired, but “resigned” of
his own accord. "There has never been any
discussion about his dismissal, although there
were indeed many demands from our members to
dismiss him. But we never talked about it," said
Din, who resumed the organization’s leadership
last year from Ahmad Syafii Maarif.

Complaints about Dawam, he said, ranged from poor
performance, disrespect of the organization and a
dissenting viewpoint. The latter centered on
Dawam’s open stance toward Ahmadiyah and Lia
Aminuddin, the sect’s founder and self-proclaimed
prophet who was arrested in late December for
blasphemy.

According to Din, Dawam was dismissed from his
position as the organization’s economic supervisor
in the previous period of leadership, due to what
he termed a lack of responsibility and
untrustworthiness.

"And now since he has resigned, we never invite
him (to organization events)," said Din, adding
that Dawam no longer has the right to refer to
himself as a Muhammadiyah figure.

Dawam, meanwhile, denied he resigned or that he
was dismissed from his position as economic
supervisor, saying he would request an explanation
from the organization.

He believed he was dismissed for refusing to stay
silent on religious prejudice. "I must’ve been
dismissed because of my standpoint against
violence against religious groups. I can’t just
sit still watching fellow Muslims prevent
Christians from praying," he said, referring to
the closure of several churches in different areas
of the country.

Dawam said Muhammadiyah, which boasts about 30
million members, was becoming radical, and would
not take a position in an interfaith conflict.

Muslim scholar Komaruddin Hidayat said Dawam’s
departure showed there was order to Muhammadiyah’s
organizational structure, albeit rigid. On the
other hand, he said, the organization was
overreacting in a puritanical effort to uphold
tradition, with Ahmadiyah and Lia of little
consequence as religious nonconformists.

"Lia cannot threaten or ruin Islam. This phenomena
repeats itself — we have had similar figures in
history, like Syech Siti Djenar, and they were
harmless," said the professor of Islamic studies
at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in
Jakarta.

As the second largest Muslim organization,
Komaruddin said, Muhammadiyah should be more
democratic and respect different opinions. "Just
state that Muhammadiyah’s stance is such, while
Dawam’s is different. Open up a dialog. Don’t see
people like Dawam as defiant because he can be a
bridge for dialog between different religions."

The conservative Din is also leader of the
Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), whose edicts in
2005 include the banning of Islamic
interpretations based on liberalism, secularism
and pluralism. The edicts also stated that Muslims
must consider their religion to be the true one
religion, and consider other faiths as wrong, as
well as stipulating that Ahmadiyah was heretical.

Former Muhammadiyah executive Muhammad Syafi’i
Anwar urged Din to take a more intellectual
position on issues and protect all members of the
organization. Regardless of the controversy about
Dawam, Syafi’i said he regretted the
organization’s growing conservatism, which he said
made moderate members uneasy.

"The Muhammadiyah Young Intellectuals Network
often complains about being condemned for being
more progressive. I think as a leader, Din should
be able to bridge the differences, and protect
them instead of being judgmental. Otherwise, this
mass organization will deteriorate," said the
executive director of the International Center for
Islam and Pluralism.

**********

NU, Muhammadiyah against unlawful use of sharia

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2006

Jakarta — The enforcement of Islamic sharia in
Indonesia must not violate the country’s existing
system and prevailing laws and that the state
interests must be above those of any group,
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah say.

"Indonesian Muslim society has the high interest
in defending (state ideology) Pancasila, the 1945
Constitution and the unitary state of Indonesia,"
the country’s two largest Muslim organizations
said in a joint statement here Thursday.

The statement was issued during a joint news
conference by NU chairman Hasyim Muzadi and
Muhammadiyah leader Din Syamsuddin at the NU
headquarters in Central Jakarta to observe the
Islamic New Year that fell on Tuesday.

"The idea to put religion vis-a-vis the state or
vice versa must be abandoned," said the statement
signed by Hasyim and Din, calling on Muslims as
the country’s majority to be at the forefront for
maintaining the country and Pancasila as well as
the Constitution.

Indonesia, the predominantly Muslim nation, is a
secular state, but sharia has been adopted into
bylaws in local regions, where students or civil
servants, for example, are obliged to wear Islamic
headscarves.

NU and Muhammadiyah also urged Muslims to
strengthen the solidarity, understanding and
dialogs on different opinions to avoid
misunderstanding and disputes among Muslims and
followers of other religions.

Muslims are not allowed to use violence and terror
because they would only worsen the image of Islam
and create Islamo-phobia, they added.

"Jihad should be aimed at catching up in the areas
that we are lagging behind, such education,
economy and human resources development. Jihad
should instead means eradicating illiteracy,
poverty and immorality," the joint statement said.

It said the harmony between different religions
must be promoted, so that each religion can
strengthen the statehood, instead of creating
problems. Moral movement should emphasize on legal
and moral justice, it said.

The organizations also called for a "more serious
and systemic" movement to fight pornography and
indecent acts, arguing that they were already
proven to have damaged the morality of the nation,
particularly young people who have been influenced
into embracing “hedonistic lifestyle”.

They urged "statesmen, politicians, government
officials and all leaders to become role models".

**********

Government told to act on religious violations

Jakarta Post - February 1, 2006

Jakarta — Academics and politicians are alarmed
at the government’s inaction amid a flood of
religion-based regional regulations with the
potential to sow conflict.

Although the 2004 law on Regional Autonomy states
that local governments do not have the authority
to issue religious laws, administrations in
Padang, West Sumatra; Cianjur, West Java;
Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, and Pamekasan on East
Java’s Madura island have issued regulations that
support the implementation of sharia law.

Indra J. Piliang of the Centre for Strategic and
International Studies said Tuesday the 2004 law
gave the government the authority to abolish local
regulations if they contravened national laws or
the Constitution.

He attributed the government’s inaction to
wariness about inflaming the issue. "I think the
government is trying to be cautious because
religion is a sensitive matter." The
implementation of sharia in regions could disturb
relations between religious groups, especially in
encroaching on freedoms of minorities, he warned.
Administrations should not control religious
matters, because individual beliefs were in the
private realm, Indra said.

Former regional autonomy minister Ryaas Rasyid
said the central government should be more active
in enforcing the law and determining if the
regulations were illegal. He termed the use of
sharia to oblige women, including non-Muslims, to
wear headscarves as inappropriate, and added that
such bylaws should be scrapped.

Ryaas, a current member of the House of
Representatives’ commission for regional autonomy,
cautioned that not all regulations implementing
Islamic law were in defiance of the law and
Constitution.

Closer examination was needed of the substance of
regulations implementing sharia principles, he
said. "If the local rulings only regulate the
banning of gambling and liquor and not implement
all Islamic laws, I don’t think they defy the
law."

House Commission II member Andi Yuliani Paris of
the National Mandate Party said local
administrations should not draw up regulations
that discriminate against any religious or ethnic
group. "Regulation that dichotomize religious
groups will sharpen the potential for conflict."
She said judicial review or a class action suit
could be filed against local administrations that
violated the law in their issuance of regulations.

With the implementation of sharia, women and non-
Muslims would be most likely to suffer, Abdul
Moqsith Ghazali of the Liberal Islam Network said.
"Why do local administrations think they have the
right to punish women for not wearing
headscarves?" He said the Koran does not state a
punishment for women who do not cover their bodies
or heads.

 ARMED FORCES/DEFENSE

Ryacudu: There is a global plot to weaken the TNI

Kompas - February 6, 2006

Jakarta — Former Army chief of staff General
Ryamizard Ryacudu says there is a global plot to
weaken the TNI (Indonesian military). This has
been proven by the growing estrangement between
the TNI and the people.

Ryacudu made the statement during a seminar titled
“Developing Indonesian Civilisation” that was held
at Nusantara Bangkit Bersatu on Sunday February 5
in Jakarta. "It can be seen by efforts to equate
the TNI with the military of other countries.
Whereas, a military in a [particular] country must
have a uniqueness in order that it is not easily
incapacitated", he said.

The TNI as a people’s military is becoming more
and more estranged from the people. On the other
hand, the TNI does not have adequate weaponry."The
TNI is being ruined and weakened", he said without
mentioning which country is trying to ruin the
TNI.

The previous government of President Megawati
Sukarnoputri submitted Ryacudu’s name to the House
of Representatives as a candidate for the position
of TNI commander to replace General Endriartono
Sutarto. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY)
however rescinded Megawati’s nomination and in the
end nominated Navy chief of staff Admiral Djoko
Suyanto as the new TNI commander.

When asked about Suyanto’s nomination, Ryacudu was
reluctant to comment. But after been repeatedly
pressured to answer he said only that"That’s my
friend remember. I support [him]. The police are
also my friends, the Navy is one wing [of the
TNI], [former TNI chief] Wiranto is my friend, SBY
as well", he said briefly.

Ryacudu offered a short message: "Make the TNI a
military of its own country. Least our military
become confused, is this Indonesia’s military or
not", he said. (sut)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

TNI is being ruined: Ryacudu

Tempo Interactive - February 5, 2006

Pramono, Jakarta — General Ryamizard Ryacudu says
that the TNI (Indonesian military) is being ruined
and weakened. According to Ryacudu, the military
has been estranged from the people while in fact
the TNI is a people’s military that must unite
with the people to build the strength [of the
nation].

"Not with sophisticated weaponry, and we don’t’
yet have that (sophisticated weaponry)", he said
in a seminar titled "Developing Indonesian
Civilisation" in Jakarta on Sunday February 5.
Also present at the seminar were former presidents
Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri,
former Vice President Try Soetrisno and the
specialist on legal state structures, Sri
Soemantri.

Ryacudu, a high-ranking officer at the TNI’s
national headquarters who was formerly the Army
chief-of-staff admitted to being concerned about
the situation in Indonesia. He compared the nation
to a four-legged table that is being gnawed at by
rats.

He gave as an example the provinces of Aceh and
West Papua that could separate from Indonesia,
Moreover, Indonesia’s present position in the
international community is weak. The general who
will retire next March also gave the example of
the relationship with East Timor.

On Tuesday January 20, the president of East
Timor, Xanana Gusmao submitted a report to the
United Nations on human rights violations
committed by Indonesia between April 25 1974 and
October 25 1999. "If they (East Timor) are afraid
of us, it’s normal. If they are being brave, that
is strange".

[Translated by James Balowski.]

**********

Military must have a presence in the regions

Jakarta Post - February 3, 2006

Although he initially seemed a surprising choice
for a position dominated by the Army for decades,
Air Marshal Djoko Suyanto was confirmed Thursday
to head the Indonesian Military (TNI). Below is an
excerpt of a conversation Suyanto had with The
Jakarta Post’s Soeryo Winoto about his plans for
the TNI.

Question: What is your main agenda for the TNI?

Answer: National reform and internal reform within
the TNI is the base. Internal reforms cover many
aspects. TNI members are prohibited from entering
into practical politics. In the future, internal
reform must be able to put TNI in the right
position, as required by the state’s
administrative system.

It is true that there has been strong demand by
the people that TNI get out of politics. But in
reality, there is a strong drive within the TNI
that has also contributed to the internal reform
movement. Remember when the People’s Consultative
Assembly (MPR) scheduled the TNI to leave the
House of Representatives (DPR) and the Assembly in
2009. But Pak Tarto (outgoing TNI chief Gen.
Endriartono Sutarto) said that in 2004 everything
would finish, and the TNI left the MPR and DPR in
2004, five years earlier than scheduled.

The next item on the agenda is promoting human
rights. It is the duty of the TNI chief and
commanders to promote the values of human rights
among TNI soldiers.

How will the TNI implement human rights values?

It is a process. It is impossible for human rights
values to be implemented properly by all layers of
the TNI — from generals to low-ranking soldiers
— just because the chief shouts about it. But the
fact that the TNI has sincerely promoted the
values of human rights internally is something
that deserves appreciation. Human rights are
taught at every level of education among TNI
members. Every commander has a reference book on
human rights.

Military law rules that any use or deployment of
military personnel must be based on state policy
or on a political decision made by the government,
with the approval or knowledge of the House of
Representatives. In this way nobody will dub the
TNI a troublemaker. In short, regarding human
rights promotion, the law guarantees that there is
nothing to worry about with the presence of the
TNI.

What about TNI weaponry and the welfare of
soldiers?

Let’s look at Singapore. It is a small country
that has good military forces with adequate
weaponry. Thus it protects itself from attack by
other countries. Singapore is at the ideal level
in this context. While Indonesia is far from
ideal. In such a situation, the ability to lobby
the government (by the TNI chief) is crucial. How
much money can the government set aside for the
military budget? With that much money the chief
should be able to make use of the forces at a
maximum capacity. Let’s take the Air Force as an
example. Only 40 percent of our Air Force strength
is ready in case of emergency.

How about military businesses?

Speaking of military businesses, I would say that
Law No. 34/2004 determines this.

In the past there were always claims that the
businesses were undertaken for the welfare of
military personnel; housing for widows of soldiers
killed, insurance and health services for
soldiers. Now that everything is based on the law
we must carefully separate individual businesses
from institutional businesses. In 2004, a joint
team was set up to list the businesses run by the
TNI. The team members consist of personnel from
state companies, the Finance Ministry and the
Corruption Eradication Commission, as well as the
military. Now the ball is with the verification
team, and I believe that the team will be very
wise in correcting and selecting the military
businesses. I mean that businesses that serve the
interests of TNI members and their families must
be retained.

The soldiers also need medical services and
insurance, and those killed in battle must get
insurance and the widows must get housing. We
can’t get that much money from the state budget,
can we?

What about the regional military commands, like
Kodim (regency military commands) or Koramil
(district military commands)?

Please be careful. The substance of the
territorial policy is now much different from that
in the past. In Bahasa Indonesia, I prefer using
kewilayahan (areal) to the old terminology
“territorial”, which could be misleading. As I
mentioned before, our military strength is far
from ideal to defend the archipelago. Therefore,
the kewilayahan strategy is very relevant.
Military officers in the regions must be more
intuitive in detecting signs of security
disturbances as early as possible, from outside or
from within the regions. And thus they must be
capable of taking prompt and relevant action to
keep everything under control.

The kewilayahan strategy has nothing to do with
the old paradigm of territorial design, where the
military was used to back up the government’s
political maneuvers. Now, military officers in the
regions can no longer arrest people at the request
of the administration or political groups.

When it comes to security matters, officers in the
regions should be able to hear the sound of a
falling needle. The point is that military
officers in the regions must keep alert and
sharpen their intuition for the sake of security,
because a trivial thing can become a serious
problem if not anticipated and dealt with properly
at an early stage.

So, for the sake of security and defense, the
presence of the military in regions, based on the
kewilayahan strategy and concept, is relevant and
acceptable.

Many observers are skeptical about your ability to
handle other forces, especially the Army. How do
you see this?

There are people who think the TNI chief can be
everything and do anything. The TNI chief will
never be able to work alone. He has eight staff
members and assistants at headquarters. They are
the best representatives of all the forces. They
have been set up as a harmonious team.

There is the possibility that my knowledge of the
Army or Navy is not that deep compared to theirs,
because I am an Air Force man. I will certainly
work together with qualified people.

**********

Suyanto vows to reform TNI

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Muninggar Sri Saraswati,Jakarta — Air Marshal
Djoko Suyanto said what many wanted to hear
Wednesday, vowing during his confirmation hearing
to keep the military out of politics and press
ahead with internal reform if he becomes
Indonesian Military (TNI) commander.

Yet his comment on maintaining the territorial
structure of the Army in guarding the nation —
which critics say has led to abuses of power and
an overreaching influence in the country — are
bound to provoke more debate about his commitment
to reforming the military.

During his fit-and-proper test hearing before
House Commission I on security and defense,
Suyanto said the doctrine remained necessary
because of the country’s vast geographic area and
the military’s capacity to maintain its unity,
detik.com reported.

Suyanto, who heads the Air Force, the smallest of
the country’s armed forces, asserted that he was
not trying to curry favor with the long-powerful
Army.

"I consider the territorial command is still
relevant based on objective rationale. It’s not
that I want to win the Army’s support," he said in
response to legislators’ questions.

Under the territorial command, the Army maintains
11 regional military commands, dozens of military
resort commands, hundreds of district commands and
thousands of military subdistrict commands, as
well as many noncommissioned officers stationed at
villages nationwide.

Suyanto said the territorial commands were "a
means" to reach unspecified goals, but the
commands would only be used to support military
operations.

In hearings that began at 9 a.m. and were
scheduled to end at midnight, Suyanto was serious
in his responses as legislators bombarded him with
questions, on topic ranging from reform, military
weaponry to human rights.

He earlier pledged that he would ensure the
military stayed out of politics. "Don’t worry,
there would never be a violation by bringing the
TNI into politics," he said.

He said conditions in the country were conducive
to preventing the military from dabbling in
politics, including a number of laws on the
military and defense, as well as the watchdog role
of non-governmental organizations, the House and
the public.

Although current laws allow military personnel to
contest regional elections once they declare
themselves nonactive from service, Suyanto said he
disagreed with the exemption.

"You should revise the law, banning military
personnel to run for regional elections. Anyway,
all of those who ran for regional elections lost,"
Suyanto said, referring to elections last year.

He said he was still considering if soldiers
should vote in the 2009 elections, which has been
proposed, saying that it may disrupt "military
solidity“.”If the negative impacts are bigger than the
positive impact, I would prefer to postpone
(implementing the right to vote)," Suyanto said,
adding that it would depend on the soldiers’
“political maturity”.

"We will hold discussions later to finalize our
view on the President’s nominee for the
replacement of Gen. Endriartono Sutarto as the TNI
chief," Commission I chief Theo Sambuaga said.

A total of 36 legislators asked questions of
Suyanto, on topics ranging from reform, weapons to
human rights.

Suyanto briefly lost his cool when Effendy
Simbolon of the Indonesia Democratic Party of
Struggle (PDI-P), which earlier stated its support
of another candidate, demanded he answer a
question on choosing between handling separatism
or human rights. "Do not force me to deploy our
forces without a political decision," he asserted.

During breaks in the session, most legislators,
including Permadi of PDI-P — chatted with him.
Most Houses faction leaders have said they will
support Suyanto as the new TNI chief.

In her final months as president, Megawati
Soekarnoputri, who currently chairs PDI-P,
nominated former Army chief Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu
to replace Endriartono Sutarto, who has been in
the TNI top post for three and a half years.

**********

Draft regulation bans company payment for troops

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Reports of huge payments by US mining company PT
Freeport-MacMoran to Indonesian soldiers in Papua
have caused controversy, with critics saying such
payments erode the professionalism of soldiers.
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono spoke with The
Jakarta Post’s Tiarma Siboro about the
government’s plan to formulate a legal umbrella
that will address this issue.

Question: How will the Defense Ministry respond to
the military leadership’s request for clearer
guidance on troop deployments to guard vital
installations?

Answer: The issue is being discussed at the Office
of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal
and Security Affairs. Currently, the military
deployments to guard vital installations,
especially those belonging to joint venture
companies, are governed under a 2004 decree issued
by the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry. It
says the involvement of either military or police
personnel depends on the companies themselves.

Now that people are questioning the presence of
troops at the compound of PT Freeport, the TNI
(Indonesian Military) chief (Gen. Endriartono
Sutarto) wants the government to set clearer
guidelines for these kinds of security
arrangements. The regulation we are drafting will
not only concern Freeport, but also other vital
installations elsewhere, including in Aceh. Data
from the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry
show there are no fewer than 8,000 joint venture
companies operating nationwide. This is a big
number.

The guidelines will consist of two principles.
First, the companies must provide any support
voluntarily. Second, the police will take the
lead, but military backing is possible.

What is the level of the regulation? Will it be a
ministerial decree?

A directive from the coordinating minister for
political, legal and security affairs is enough.
This means all government officials in charge of
political, legal and security affairs will take
responsibility for securing vital installations.

People are questioning the transparency of direct
payments from companies to military commanders in
the field. Will the directive respond to this?

The directive will also address this issue,
stressing the point that the companies must
provide the support voluntarily in the form of
facilities, such as trucks or other vehicles,
dorms and health facilities for the security
personnel and their families. All the support must
be approved by a civilian agency. At the moment,
we are considering asking BP Migas (Upstream Oil
and Gas Executive Agency) or state oil and gas
company Pertamina to manage the financial support.
This, of course, would rule out direct payments
from the companies to commanders or soldiers.

Will military or police personnel on duty at vital
installations receive additional payments?

Of course, the duty is an ordinary deployment
(which is funded by the state). Therefore, any
additional support voluntarily provided by
companies shall not be perceived as a payment.
Transparency is a must in the disbursement of any
extra funds. Because the security arrangements are
made in the interest of the companies, there
should be no pressure on the firms to provide the
support. And the rules of the game are clear: the
companies must provide security guards to cover
the area inside the company compound. Outside the
compound, security arrangements can be entrusted
to either the police or the military, especially
in areas where there is insurgent activity.

Does the existing legislation, including the law
on the military, fail to provide such guidelines?

We are drafting new guidelines because people, as
well as lawmakers, have repeatedly requested a
legal umbrella to justify the involvement of
troops in guarding companies. They are not aware
of the existing legislation, including the law on
the military and the Constitution, which requires
the involvement of all Indonesian citizens to
guard every inch of this country’s territory. It
is also quite clear that Article 27 of the
Constitution stipulates the participation of all
citizens in defending the state. Actually, we
already have an adequate legal basis, but still,
clearer guidelines are needed.

People are concerned about human rights violations
in the areas around companies that are guarded by
troops.

The problem is that we need tough action against
armed disturbances that may threaten the
companies’ day-to-day activities. But if an
incident occurs, people will accuse the troops of
perpetrating human rights abuses without blaming
the armed groups. As these groups commit
violations, the police have a right to take
action. We cannot allow demonstrators or
separatist groups to perpetrate violence because
that is a crime.

Will the directive prevent corruption among state
officials, including security authorities?

It totally depends on the three parties involved:
the companies, the civilian agency and the
security authorities. They play a key role in
determining how much money will be spent on
support funds for security personnel who guard
companies’ property. They also decide on when the
support should be disbursed and who will
responsible for it. These decisions, of course,
should be in line with the guidelines. For the
sake of transparency, the public can question
these parties about anything relating to the
security arrangements.

**********

Airforce chief to head military

Radio Australia - February 1, 2006

The next chief of Indonesia’s military faces one
of the toughest jobs in the country
professionalising the country’s armed forces. Air
Marshall Djoko Suyanto has been hand picked by
President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono to continue the
task of reforming the notorious services
especially the army.

Presenter/Interviewer: Karon Snowdon

Speakers: Indonesian political and military
analyst, Bob Lowry.

Snowdon: Chief of the airforce, Air Marshall Djoko
Suyanto has, like many of his contemporaries,
received training in the United States. He is also
one of the few non-army appointments as Commander
in Chief of Indonesia’s military.

With just a few years before he reaches the
mandatory retirement age of 58, he doesn’t have
long to make his mark. And there’s no quick fix to
the problems confronting him.

Indonesia’s armed forces, known as the TNI stands
accused of past blatant human rights abuses —
both at home and in East Timor, is still not
trusted by many Indonesians, and still exerts
significant influence over civilian affairs.

Plus, according to military and political analyst
Bob Lowry, Air Marshall Suyanto will lack the
money and the authority to do the job many might
be expecting.

Lowry: He is a good choice in that he is at least
giving an indication that the president actually
wants to start the long term process of reforming
the military. On the other hand, there is very
little that he can actually do without government
support and direction and resources.

Snowdon: So you think that Air Marshall Suyanto is
the right person to continue the reform that’s
been started so far and hasn’t gone that far
actually?

Lowry: No, the reform process has been interrupted
by various political problems in previous
governments and the priority of the current
president is to get the economy going and he has
very little in terms of taxation resources etc to
start reforming them the military of the public
service generally so it is going to be a slow
process.

Snowdon: Is that one of the major problems? Is
just having the funding to improve the military
and reform it along the way?

Lowry: That’s one of the major problems and until
he’s got that, he can’t increase the salaries of
either the military or the public service, and
then pull them out of the business interests that
they’re involved in at the moment which distort
their public function. But there’s only so far he
can go until some of the structural issues are
actually sorted out and the military command
system is reformed, especially the territorial
system and the military is pulled out of the
business interests, the illegal and legal business
interests.

Snowdon: Suyanto replaces the reformist General
Endirartono Sutarto who was kept on despite
offering his resignation in 2004 to former
President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

She appointed a hardliner replacement — a move
swiftly rescinded by incoming President Yudhoyono
roughly a month later. As a result Megawati’s
party the PDIP isn’t supportive of the new man who
has to be approved by the parliament.

Still, he is assured of being confirmed and can
expect strong backing from the President with whom
he reportedly enjoys playing golf.

One task of the commander in chief’s job will be
to continue to keep the military politically
neutral, as Indonesia builds its democracy.

The President’s commitment to reform and the
importance of Indonesia to the US in its fight
against terrorism, were given as reasons for the
US to resume full military ties in November after
they were severed in 1999 after the East Timor
violence.

Australia followed a month later with the decision
to renew joint training exercises with Kopassus —
the army’s elite commando style unit. Critics say
both moves came too soon. And in Bob Lowry’s view
Indonesia’s President and government still need to
demonstrate more political will toward reform.

Lowry: It’s the same in most countries. The
military commander in chief has the authority to
direct the operations of the military. But in
terms of policy, in otherwords deciding what sort
of armed forces they want, what they want them to
do, what sort of budget allocation should be given
to them, that’s a government policy decision. And
that’s been lacking in Indonesia because of
resource limitations and also because the Ministry
of Defence doesn’t have authority over the armed
forces to direct reform or changes, or the
allocation of resources.

 BUSINESS & INVESTMENT

Debt irks lawmakers

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2006

Jakarta — Indonesia’s foreign debt has many
people seriously worried. Most fear the country
may never be able to escape the debt trap it has
fallen into, which they say prevents it from using
its resources for promoting development and better
public welfare.

Among those concerned are 27 members of the House
finance commission, who recently formed the House
Alliance on Foreign Debt. Introducing a recent
study by the International NGO Forum on Indonesian
Development and the Institute of Multi-
Disciplinary Research, group spokesman Dradjad H.
Wibowo said the country was paying more on its
current debts than it was receiving in new loans.

Dradjad explained that the amount of debt incurred
between 1969 and 2003 stood at $78.4 billion, with
the country having paid $56.5 billion in debt
principle and interest installments during that
period, but only receiving $37.7 billion in new
loans. "This means Indonesia’s debts should be
declining, but in fact our outstanding debt has
risen by Rp 745 trillion," he said.

The members of the group say they will now do
everything at their disposal as lawmakers to
encourage the passage of legislation restricting
foreign borrowing, and ensuring better loan and
grant management.

Separately, global credit rating agency Standard
and Poor’s said in its latest report that
sovereign borrowing by Asia-Pacific governments is
likely to drop by 2.8 percent to $1.75 trillion
this year due to a continued slowdown in the pace
of issuance amid fiscal consolidation.

This will bring total outstanding short-term and
long-term sovereign debt to some $9.4 trillion, an
increase of only 5 percent over last year.

**********

Trade figures reveal problems faced by local
exporters

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2006

Jakarta — Despite record 2005 export earnings, a
closer look at the trade statistics suggests the
country’s manufacturers are having a tough time
competing overseas, particularly against more
efficient manufacturers from other countries in
the region.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) reported last
week that the country’s export earnings jumped by
19.53 percent from the 2004 figure to a record
US$85.6 billion. But according to a more detailed
BPS report obtained by The Jakarta Post on Monday,
volume-wise, exports only grew by 10.09 percent
last year.

Dantes Simbolon, the head of the BPS export
statistics subdirectorate, explained that soaring
global commodity prices had contributed greatly to
the at-first-sight impressive performance.

By volume, oil and gas exports were down 8.6
percent, while non-oil and gas exports, including
minerals but excluding coal and sand, increased by
13.1 percent, the BPS figures show.

What is worrying is that in the manufacturing
sector, exports of textiles and garments,
furniture and electronics have dropped in volume
terms. These sectors are among the largest
contributors to export revenue and job creation.
Textile and garment exports, for example, only
amounted to 1.03 million tons as of October 2005,
while exports of these goods reached 1.63 million
tons the previous year.

The last two months of 2005 would not have added
much to the figures as the year-end is always
slower for export-oriented businesses.

Left struggling by China’s booming textile and
garment industry, Indonesian exports of these
products failed to achieve the targeted figure of
$7.9 billion, and grew by less than 5 percent last
year. The industry has been plagued by overlapping
problems of increasing energy costs, smuggling and
aging machinery.

The Indonesian Textile Association reported that
77 export-oriented firms had ceased operating
because of increasing energy costs and eroding
markets due to a slump in competitiveness.

Meanwhile, exports of wood products and furniture
dropped to 3.2 million tons last year as compared
to 5.3 million tons in 2004. The Indonesian
Furniture Producers Association placed the blame
for the decline on a lack of raw materials and
soaring prices for teak — which is heavily used
in the production of furniture destined for
export.

Meanwhile, producers of electronic goods complain
of the high import duties imposed on components,
leading to a lack of price competitiveness on the
export market. This led to a decline in
electronics exports to 0.5 million tons last year
compared to 0.67 million tons in 2004.

Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice
chairman Rachmat Gobel said the government needed
to further lower the import duties on raw
materials for the electronics sector in order to
restore competitiveness.

Given the myriad of complaints from the private
sector, observers say it is clear the government
needs to be more alert in responding to changes in
the global market if it wants Indonesia to
maintain its place among the ranks of the emerging
economies.

**********

Inflationary pressures still strong: BI

Jakarta Post - February 4, 2006

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta — Hopes of a breathing
space for the economy in the form of easing
interest rates may prove to be unfounded, with the
central bank saying inflationary pressures
continue to remain a problem, despite the rupiah’s
recent gains.

"Inflationary pressures are still strong, so I
think our monetary policy will have to remain
tight as well," Bank Indonesian (BI) Governor
Burhanuddin Abdullah told reporters on Friday.

The inflationary pressures, Burhanuddin said,
included those likely to come from probable
increases later this year in electricity prices,
minimum wages and civil service salaries, as well
as those resulting from the recent surge in the
price of rice.

This is despite the fact that the rupiah has risen
to as high as Rp 9,200 against the US dollar,
which Burhanuddin acknowledged would contribute to
lower import-related inflationary pressures.

The rupiah closed slightly higher Friday against
the greenback at Rp 9,310, as compared to
Thursday’s close of Rp 9,345, after reaching an
intraday low of Rp 9,350. A stronger rupiah makes
imports cheaper for Indonesia’s consumption-driven
economy, but has the potential to hurt exporters.

Burhanuddin declined, however, to say whether BI
was considering hiking its key interest rate
pending the central bank’s Board of Governors
meeting on Feb. 7.

Hopes of lower interest rates rose when the
central bank left its BI Rate unchanged at 12.75
percent in January after prices eased by 0.04
percent in December, leaving full-year inflation
standing at 17.11 percent.

On-year inflation reached a six-year high of 18.38
percent in October after the government hiked fuel
prices for the second time last year, forcing BI
to further raise its rate to contain inflation.

High inflation erodes people’s purchasing power,
while higher interest rates make borrowing for new
investments more expensive — both of which lead
to lower economic growth.

BI’s latest assessment says that Indonesia’s
economy expanded by between only 4 and 4.5 percent
during last year’s final quarter, slower than the
5.3 percent expansion seen in the third quarter.
Last year’s overall growth came in at between 5.3
and 5.6 percent, as compared to 5.13 percent in
2004.

The central bank has said it may gradually begin
to lower interest rates by this year’s second
semester — or even sooner — as inflation slows
down and the tight global monetary cycle comes to
an end.

The US Federal Reserve, however, raised it
benchmark rate this week to 4.5 percent from 4.25
percent earlier. Meanwhile, monthly inflation in
Indonesia stood at 1.36 percent in January, the
Central Statistics Agency (BPS) reported, due
particularly to the recent surge in the price of
rice.

The government is expecting full-year inflation to
come in at 8 percent in 2006, with BI allowing a 1
percent plus-minus range. This forecast has
already factored in possible power price hikes,
but only up to a maximum of 30 percent.

**********

High inflation set to persist this year

Jakarta Post - February 2, 2006

Jakarta — Although the latest figures from the
Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show year-on-year
inflation slowing for the second month in a row to
17.03 percent in January, high inflation is set to
continue looming large over the economy this year.

Despite the lower figure, monthly inflation still
increased by 1.36 percent in January, in contrast
to deflation of 0.04 percent in December.

The high inflationary pressure seems likely to
persist amid increases in food prices resulting
from seasonal floods that are likely to continue
in many parts of the country for the rest of this
month. This could prompt the central bank to
further hike its benchmark interest rate to reduce
price pressures.

"January’s inflation was mainly driven by a rise
in staple food prices, particularly of rice," BPS
director Choiril Maksum said.

"We recorded increases in rice prices of between 2
and 23 percent, contributing up to 0.6 percent to
this month’s inflation rate." Staple food prices
as a whole were the largest contributors to
January’s inflation, rising by as much as 4.26
percent and contributing 0.94 percent to the
inflation rate.

The price of rice rose despite the government
importing 110,000 tons to secure stocks and
stabilize prices.

Flooding across the country has been threatening
the rice harvest, which is likely to further push
up rices prices.

Besides staple food prices, consumers also saw a
0.70 percent rise in transportation, communication
and financial services costs, which contributed
0.18 percent to January’s inflation rate. Another
main contributor was processed foodstuffs, whose
prices increased by 0.94 percent.

However, the prices of gasoline, kerosene, cooking
oil and vegetables and fruits fell.

Apart from headline inflation, the BPS also
reported that core inflation, which excludes
volatile prices, such as those of food, and
regulated prices like utility rates, was up 0.72
percent month-to-month and 9.68 percent year-on-
year.

The BPS, in collaboration with Bank Indonesia, has
started this year to report core inflation, which
the central bank relies on in deciding its
macroeconomic policy.

The government has officially targeted full-year
inflation of 8 percent in this year’s budget.

Year-on-year inflation stood at 18.38 percent in
November, the highest level in six years, as costs
rose following the October fuel price hikes and as
a result of increased food consumption during the
Idul Fitri season.

BI has forecast that monthly inflation will remain
at 3.19 percent in the first quarter before easing
to 2.36 percent in the fourth quarter, ending up
at a year-on-year level of between 7 and 9
percent. The forecast has already factored in
possible power rate hikes, although only up to a
maximum of 30 percent.

Commenting on the possible electricity hikes,
Choiril said that an increase of between 15 and 40
percent could up inflation by between 0.4 and 1
percent.

"If electricity prices rise by 30 percent, then
inflation will increase by 0.9 percent,“he said.”And this is just the direct effect — we have yet
to calculate the knock-on effects." Separately,
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that
monthly inflation was expected to remain high
until March at the earliest. "Afterward, we expect
inflation to ease,“she said.”We will from then
on be particularly cautious about months with
holidays and the year-end in order to keep
inflation at those times in check at below 1
percent."

**********

Local auto sector braces for lower duties

Jakarta Post - February 1, 2006

Jakarta — As would-be easy riders get revved up
over the prospect of cheaper cars and motorcycles
in the wake of falling import duties, the local
industry sees the lower tariff regime as another
threat that must be overcome if it is to survive.

"Lower import duties accompanied by a flood of
imported cars will gradually damage our
manufacturing sector," the Industry Ministry’s
director general for the automotive, information
and communications industries, Budi Darmadi, said
Monday.

A committee from the Finance Ministry charged with
revising import duties announced last Friday that
it had completed the second phase of its import
duty reductions, including those on automotive
products.

This year, the duty cuts will apply to completely
built-up (CBU) sedans of between 1,500cc and
3,000cc, such as the Vios, Altis and Camry models
from Toyota, and the Civic and Accord models from
Honda. A number of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot
models are also included in this category.

The import duty on these cars has been cut to 60
percent from 70 percent last year. In the period
up to 2010, the import duties on CBU cars in all
categories will have to be gradually reduced to 40
percent from the current levels of between 45 and
80 percent.

Import duties on CBU motorcycles have also been
cut. Compared to between 35 and 60 percent last
year, importers this year will have to pay a duty
of between 30 and 50 percent on such products.

Industry players have said they are concerned that
lower import duties on CBU vehicles, and higher
duties on components, will adversely affect
domestic manufacturing — leading to higher
unemployment in the long run — as it will become
more profitable to import rather than manufacture.

Even with the old duties, Chinese-made motorcycles
have been flooding the Indonesian market.

Indonesia imported some 75,000 CBU vehicles from
other Southeast Asian countries in 2005, and
another 15,000 from countries outside the region.
Meanwhile, the domestic automotive industry
produced 530,000 cars last year, with most of the
components being imported.

Indonesia is currently an automotive manufacturing
base for a number of Japanese companies. In terms
of car output, Indonesia is in a neck-and-neck
battle with neighbors Thailand (648,000 units per
year) and Malaysia (500,000).

Indonesian Automotive Producers Association
(Gaikindo) has estimated that local firms, which
employ some 150,000 workers, would this year only
be able to produce 500,000 units at the most due
to increasing operating costs.

Gaikindo deputy chairman Jongkie Sugiarto said his
association would first study the new import duty
arrangements before making an assessment. "It is
obvious that the automotive industry must increase
its competitiveness," Budi said, adding that the
problem currently faced by Indonesian
manufacturers was the lack of trained and skilled
staff.

Automotive manufacturers here are also still
highly dependent on imported components as very
few local suppliers have been able to maintain
reliable supplies of high quality automotive
parts.

 OPINION & ANALYSIS

In pursuit of a humane Acehnese society

Jakarta Post - February 7, 2006

Carla Bianpoen, Contributor, Jakarta — Both the
Helsinki Accord and the BRR (Aceh and Nias
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency) are
failing to include women, says Samsidar, Nobel
Prize candidate, special rapporteur on Violence
against Women, and chair of the Aceh Women
Volunteers for Humanity (RPuK).

"Women should have been given a major role in the
making of the rehabilitation and reconstruction
blueprint, but although BRR chief Pak Kuntoro has
repeatedly stated women have a key role in making
the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts a
success, he has yet to establish concrete
strategies to allow women to act upon his word,“she says.”Neither has the Helsinki Accord accorded adequate
space to women. Women took the brunt during Aceh’s
long struggle, were harassed, violated and raped,
while taking responsibility for the survival of
their families when their menfolk left home to
fight, or were killed or simply disappeared
without trace.

"Setting up shelters and barracks without giving a
thought to women’s specific concerns may have been
inevitable in the first moments of urgency, but
today such negligence is giving rise to rampant
violence; women in the barracks are left in fear,
anguish and inconceivable insecurity." The post-
tsunami situation and peace accord should have
provided momentum to revitalize old traditions
with modern understanding, explains Samsidar.

When internally displaced people (IDPs) from
Meunasah Lhok wished to leave their shelters, she
and her RPuK Team facilitated the rebuilding of
their village based on democratic values rooted in
community traditions of mutual respect that were
on the verge of extinction.

"Women are a major source to tap if a peaceful,
prosperous, and just society is a genuine desire
of power holders," says Samsidar.

Her commitment to the establishment of a society
where peace and security reign as basic elements
of people’s well-being does not come out of the
blue. One of the early leaders of the Aceh women’s
movement, her efforts started when she found women
were sidelined and marginalized in ways that
defied logic. That was some twenty years ago.

Activist and action

Following her activism during her student days at
the Department of Agriculture of Syah Kuala
University, Banda Aceh, as a researcher into
sustainable food crops and plant protection, she
blended lecturing at the Agriculture Department of
Gajah Putih University in Takengon with
consultancy for the PPW/LTA-77 Project for Coffee
Smallholders, which included empowerment of women
farmers (a joint project between the Indonesian
and Dutch governments). She became the founder of
the Foundation for Women’s Development in Takengon
(YPW), which was among the first women’s
organization in the province.

With a membership of 1,000 women (now reduced to
500), YPW includes a credit union (economic
empowerment), and organizes community
participation, studies on women in Islam, and
provides advocacy for women victims of violence as
well as assisting women IDPs. She and her team
defied threats to help coffee smallholders retain
their human dignity.

A mover and shaker, she was also a founder of the
Aceh Transformation and Gender Working group
(1986), as well as a founder of Flower Aceh NGO in
1987 which aimed at women’s empowerment, heading
the board until recently. She was also behind the
founding (in 1999) of RPuK, a group she still
heads, focusing on assistance and rehabilitation
of women and children IDPs, which has earned a
unique reputation for credibility in post-tsunami
assistance.

In 1998 she became a member of the newly
established National Commission on Violence
against Women, also serving as adjunct secretary-
general.

Since 2005 she has served as the special
rapporteur on Violence against Women in Aceh, who
seeks out and receives information on violence
against women in Aceh, and recommends ways and
means of dealing with these issues at local,
regional and national levels.

Samsidar was also a major player in the holding of
Duek Pakat Inong Aceh (All-Aceh Women’s
Conference) 2000, bringing together over 500 women
who came up with a a comprehensive blueprint for
establishing peace in their troubled land.

Similarly, she helped hold the second Duek Pakat
Inong Aceh in June 2005, the recommendations from
which were welcomed warmly by BRR chief, but have
yet to be realized.

Known for her firm commitment and belief in women
as prime movers of transformation, she is also
among the most credible women whose personal
integrity makes her among the strong pillars of
the women’s movement in Aceh.

Family ties

As she travels throughout the province and back-
and-forth between Lhokseumawe, Banda Aceh and
Jakarta, the 39-year-old Acehnese is a familiar
face in the world of activists.

Not many know, however, that her roots were in the
aristocracy that ruled Aceh Besar and Pidie. Her
father, a policeman by profession, and a member of
the DPRD (local legislature), never made use of
his rightful title of Teuku Meurah, and neither
does Samsidar or any of her kin.

Her mother, a native from Takengon, was a
housewife and teacher of koranic verses who was
actively involved in antipoligamy activitism.

Born in Banda Aceh, Samsidar’s nomadic life is
nothing new to her. As a child she was on the move
all the time, along with her father, who served in
the police force with assignments that changed
from place to place.

While it is taking its toll on her physical
condition, it has given her a chance to widen her
horizons, and put an even stronger accent on the
virtues of humanity that she got from home.

Asked what would be her personal wish for the
future, she says she would dearly love to be
allowed the time and means to take transformative
studies, which would enable her better to assist
communities in her native Aceh that are coping
with the change from tradition to modernity.

For now, however, she is too busy investigating
and reporting on cases that urgently need the
immediate attention of those in influential,
decision-making positions.

**********

Labor and Coalition must act for West Papua

Green Left Weekly Editorial - February 1, 2006

The Socialist Alliance calls on the federal
Coalition government and the ALP opposition to
learn the lesson of East Timor in relation to West
Papua.

Alliance spokesperson Pip Hinman said: "Last
week’s arrival on Cape York of 43 West Papuan
asylum seekers and the shooting of a young
protester in West Papua should set alarm bells
ringing in the ALP. Will the people of West Papua
have to endure as bloody and painful a struggle as
the East Timorese before Labor drops the pro-
Jakarta policy on West Papua it now shares with
the Howard government?"

The Socialist Alliance is challenging federal
Labor to distinguish itself from the inhumane and
racist refugee policy of the Howard government and
engage positively with the West Papuan people’s
struggle for self-determination. But Hinman noted
that the signs were unpromising.

"Instead of standing up for the rights of the West
Papuans, the federal opposition, through shadow
minister for Overseas Aid and Pacific Island
Affairs Bob Sercombe, is simply calling for a
joint parliamentary fact-finding trip to West
Papua by Indonesian and Australian
parliamentarians.“”But what facts does Labor have to find? The
Indonesia army and elite have oppressed the people
of West Papua just as much as they did the people
of East Timor. If Bob Sercombe really lacks facts
he could start by reading Dutch historian Dr Peter
Drooglever’s 2005 report to the Dutch parliament
on the incorporation of West Papua into
Indonesia."

That report found that:

1. The 1969 “Act of Free Choice”, in which 1022
West Papuans out of a population of 800,000 were
press-ganged into voting for incorporation into
Indonesia, was a total sham.

2. Indonesian police and army presence in West
Papua has steadily increased since 1969, in direct
contradiction to the proposal of former Indonesian
foreign minister Adam Malik, who stated that "the
army would first have to be withdrawn before
Papuan society would be able to develop".

3. West Papua’s abundant natural resources have
been ruthlessly exploited for the benefit of the
military and the Jakarta elite, leaving the West
Papuans as one of the poorest communities in the
Indonesian archipelago.

4. Over the decades since 1969, "not a day went
by... when no one died or no one was seriously
mistreated“. Casualty figures”running into the
tens of thousands have been mentioned".

The Socialist Alliance has joined with all those
calling for the 43 West Papuan asylum seekers to
be flown to the mainland from Christmas Island,
released into the community and granted permanent
refugee status.

Hinman explained: "On no account should they be
returned to West Papua — it’s not difficult to
imagine what their fate would be at the hands of
an Indonesian military that only a fortnight ago
deported eight independence fighters from West
Papua to Jakarta against their will."

The Socialist Alliance is committed to building
the protest movement in support of the asylum
seekers and in solidarity with West Papua’s
struggle for self-determination. According to the
alliance, part of that campaign must be to end all
Australian aid to the Indonesian military.

"We support the formation of the largest possible
coalition of political, human rights, church and
community groups to put pressure on the government
to allow the refugees to stay, and on the
government and the ALP to change their bipartisan
line of complicity with Jakarta’s policies of
repression in West Papua“, Hinman said.”The Australian solidarity movement with East
Timor was critical in forcing Canberra to change
its line of collaboration with Jakarta against the
rights of the Timorese. We can and must repeat
that effort for the people of West Papua."

Socialist Alliance members around the country are
involved in the campaign for freedom and
protection of the West Papuan asylum seekers. For
more information, contact the SA branch in your
city.

**************************************

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific
PO Box 458, Broadway NSW 2007 Australia
Phone: 61-(0)2-96901230
Fax : 61-(0)2-96901381
Email: asap asia-pacific-action.org
WWW : www.asia-pacific-action.org

***************************************

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