West Papua Information Kit

Tentara Nasional Indonesia - TNI

The TNI traces its orgins to the Pacific War volunteer militia alongside the Japanese, but the Javanese militia were self-funding. Today the TNI remains largely self-funded including by payments from foreign mining and oil companies for military protection from the local populations and to keep local dissatisfation under control. And the network of banks and companies own by the Generals is beyond calculation.

In 2001 US Congressman James Leach ask the Depty Secretary of State, "Does the administration disagree with the opinion of some experts that somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of Indonesian military funding is off-budget?"
The response was "We agree that a significant part of Indonesia's military funding is off budget. However, the fraction is not easy to judge, as off budget funding is, by definition, difficult to measure."

Although in theory under control of the civilian government, the military besides still wielding considerable political power also exercises a greater degree of autonomy from their government directives than the military of other nations. The military commanders including Sukarno, Gen. Suharto, and Gen. Yudhoyono have raisen to authoritive positions.

The Indonesian military in West Papua


Since the military moved into West Papua the US Ambassadors have heard consistant accounts of the military looting and stripping the nation of goods for sale in Jakarta and elsewhere. In May 1968 the Indonesian Foreign Minister Malik said:
He was strongly urging interior minister basuki rachmat to introduce major reforms in administration of west irian, starting with the withdrawal of one-half of 10,000 troops now stationed there and involving remaining 5,000 in civic action activities that would help develop positive support for goi amongst irianese. Ten thousand troops are not needed there. They are a drain on Indonesia and especially on overstrained West Irian economy. They devote no time to helping people but merely attend to their own wants and comforts (such as they are).

In July 1969 US Ambassador Galbraith in part reported that:
There is no doubt that the sources of Irianese discontent with Indonesian rule are real and the scars left from past abuses will continue to fester for many years to come. In more candid moments, Indonesian officials admit to the GOI's poor record . . . West Irian was administrated as a fiefdom of vested, particularly military, interests . . . Local military commanders often run the large towns, like Manokwar, and civilian officials have little authority. The military is generally noted for its rapaciousness steming . . . Military repression has stimulated fears and rumors of intended genocide among the Irianese. . . . the most oft-cited grievance of the Irianese is that the Indonesians cleaned out the shops and storehouses in the period immediately following their takeover of West Irian administration in 1963. Missionaries reported that they had witnessed Indonesian military personnel loading up Air Force planes at night with goods taken from local merchants. Within two months of Indonesian takeover on May 1, 1963, there was an acute shortage of food and consumer goods. It is little wonder that the Irianese look back fondly to the Dutch days when such items were in relatively abundant supply. . . . The Indonesian Armed Forces have between 6000 and 8000 troops in West Irian at present

21st century

It is in the interest of the military to provoke and prolong conflict in West Papua as well as in other areas throughout the archipelago in order to prove that they are needed to maintain law and order and control so called separatists groups. In fact the main aim of the military in Indonesia appears to be revenue raising. The Indonesian military receive approximately 45% of their budget from the government and must raise the rest themselves. Much of this is done through illegal means such as illegal logging, mining and offering to provide so called security to international companies such as the Freeport copper and gold mine.

A study by the University of Sydneys Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Elsham, the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy based in Jayapura, titled Genocide in West Papua? The role of the Indonesian state apparatus and a current needs assessment of the Papuan people details the ongoing human rights abuses, the systematic violence, including rape, arson and torture, in the Indonesian-occupied territory of West Papua. The report documents eyewitness accounts of military campaigns which have destroyed whole villages in the remote highlands region, the report details military involvement in acts of arson and destruction of property, rape, torture and arbitrary disappearances. (More than 100,000 Papuans deaths are estimated to have occurred as a result of the Indonesia occupation since 1963).

The report concludes that Indonesias security forces act with total impunity and are the main source of instability in the territory.

A report about the activities of the Indonesian military in East Timor, (released in 2006) documents how the TNI used napalm, chemical weapons and starvation as a weapon against the East Timorese people (over 100,000 civilians died under the Indonesian occupation). Some of the same military that operated in East Timor are now in West Papua. No military personal have been brought to justice over the human rights abuses that occurred in East Timor while it was under Indonesian control.

Assassination of Chief Theys Eluay

Chief Theys Hiyo Eluay, the chairperson of the Papuan Presidium Council, was abducted by Kopassus soldiers on 10 November 2001, shortly after attending an event at the Kopassus base near Jayapura. His body was found the following day showing signs of strangulation. Although at first the military denied its involvement in the killing eventually members of the army's special Kopassus forces were put on trial. A military court on Monday the 21 April 2003, found seven Kopassus special forces soldiers guilty of involvement in the death of Chief Theys Eluay. However, the soldiers received light sentences of imprisonment ranging from two to three-and-a-half years.

The light sentences received by Chief Theys killers only sends a message to the West Papuan People that they can receive no justice under Indonesian rule. It indicates that the military can act with impunity in West Papua. Comments made by the chief of staff of the army, General Ryamizard Ryacudu only confirm this. In relation to the soldiers found guilty of Chief Theys murder he is quoted as saying,

'I don't know, people say they did wrong, they broke the law. What law? Okay, we are a state based on the rule of law, so they have been punished. But for me, they are heroes because the person they killed was a rebel leader.'

In November 2003, Papuan independence leader Yustinus Murib and nine of his men were killed by Indonesian Kopassus troops. Yustinus Murib had recently sent a letter to various heads of state and the United Nations, calling for a sovereign country to act as mediator between President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the West Papuan independence movement. Although Murib had called for peaceful dialogue with Jakarta to discuss the political status of Papua, he was still killed by Kopassus troops.

The Militarys involvement in human rights abuses and resource extraction.

A report by the international crises group in Brussels entitled Indonesia: Resources and Conflict in Papua states (Asia Report N°39 3 September 2002):
Injustices in the management of natural resources under Indonesian rule have contributed significantly to the conflict. The state has often given concessions to resource companies in disregard of the customary rights of indigenous Papuan communities, while troops and police guarding these concessions have frequently committed murders and other human rights abuses against civilians. Provisions in the special autonomy law require resource companies to pay greater heed to adat claims to land ownership, but they do not apply retroactively to the many companies already in Papua.

Indonesian security forces have a financial interest in resource extraction in Papua, through direct involvement in logging and other activities and protection fees paid by resource companies. Numerous serving and retired officers, senior state officials and others close to government are thought to have logging concessions or other business interests. Alongside the substantial tax and royalties accrued by the state, these interests are a powerful reason for the Indonesian state and its agencies to keep control of Papua.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency and Telepak has also released a report entitled The Last Frontier - Illegal Logging in Papua and China's Massive Timber Theft which shows the Indonesian military are involved in the illegal smuggling of logs from West Papua to China. It should be noted The Indonesian government has banned the export of raw logs. To quote from the report:
The military in Papua are involved in every aspect of illegal logging. Several forestry concessions in the province are linked to military foundations, notably the company Hanurata, which controls five concessions in Papua and shares its headquarters in Jayapura with a detachment of troops from the army’s special forces. Military personnel are frequently employed as security for logging operations. One timber dealer based in Jakarta told EIA/Telapak investigators that he had 30 soldiers on his payroll to secure his illicit forest concession. The army is also used to intimidate local communities opposed to logging operations on their lands. A report by human rights observers documented widespread logging-related abuse by troops stationed near Jayapura. The abuses involved intimidation, assaults and rape.

Has the TNI reformed?

As well as the US State Deparment's 2005 Human Rights report which state "Security forces continued to commit unlawful killings of rebels, suspected rebels, and civilians in areas of separatist activity, where most politically motivated extrajudicial killings also occurred", an article in the Jakarta "Post Military remains above the law, says rights watchdog" dated 27 December 2006, also reports that the military have made no progress in reforming itself.

In the article the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported that the nation's security forces are still operating above the law. Kontras, in its end of year report for 2006, said although there was some improvement in the government's protection of human rights, its record, however, was clouded by what Kontras saw as the government's reluctance to reign in security agencies, the Indonesian Military (TNI), the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Police, which continue to defy the reform process. Kontras reported that in 2006, the military stll remained autonomous from legal and political controls.

"In terms of professionalism, the TNI registered no significant progress. The institution gave no accountability for human rights violations committed by its members who were involved in shootings, kidnappings, wrongful arrests and physical abuses," Kontras coordinator Usman Hamid said.

Militia groups

On 16th April 2008 the terrorist Eurico Guterres was photoghraphed with former vice-president Tri Sutrisno attending a 56th Anniversary event for the Kopassus Special Forces. There are now militia groups operating across West Papua including Laskar Jihad. Other groups include the Satgas Merah-Putih (Red and White Task Force) and the Front Pembela Merah Putih (Red and White Defenders Front). These groups operate with the knowledge and consent of the local military Generals and Jakarta. As happen in East Timor during the 1990s, fake independence militia have been given guns to stage events as pretext for military attacks on the peaceful political groups and their supporters.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)