Rape and Other Human Rights Abuses by the Indonesian Military in Irian Jaya (West Papua), Indonesia
May 1999


Executive Summary



Background Analysis

Legal Framework





This report, prepared by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy, describes cases of violence against indigenous Papuan women and girls by the Indonesian military in Irian Jaya (West Papua),(1) Indonesia, in recent years. The cases and analysis demonstrate the links between violence against women and the economic and development policies of the Indonesian state.

During more than two and a half years of military occupation in the Central Highlands, Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI), including Special Forces (Kopassus), perpetrated serious human rights violations against indigenous civilians in the villages of Bela, Alama, Jila and Mapnduma. These abuses were originally documented in a May 1998 report by three Irian Jaya-based churches: the Indonesian Evangelical Church; the Catholic Church, Three Kings Parish; and the Christian Evangelical Church. Among the victims in 11 cases of extrajudicial killing were a local Protestant pastor and a 12-year-old boy. The report also documents widespread destruction of property, including the burning of 13 churches, 166 homes, 29 community houses and other community structures.

The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy later documented cases of rape, sexual slavery and other sexual violence against local women and girls by the Indonesian military in the same Central Highland villages. Victims of these attacks, described in the present report, included girls of 3 years and 11 years of age, and two elderly women, aged 50 and 60. In one incident, soldiers took photographs as they gang raped a 25-year-old woman while she held her infant child.

The report also provides information not included in earlier reports about the case of two women who were detained and tortured in Timika by military forces, who used PT Freeport mining company equipment and relied upon the assistance of Freeport personnel.

As part of a November 1998 investigation of violence against women in Indonesia and East Timor, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, proposed to visit Irian Jaya to investigate reports of human rights violations there. The Indonesian government denied her access, citing a lack of sufficient time for such a visit. In her public report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights 55th Session (March-April 1999),(2) the Special Rapporteur concluded that:

  1. Before May 1998, the Indonesian security forces used rape "as an instrument of torture and intimidation" in Irian Jaya, Aceh and East Timor, and "torture of women detained by the Indonesian security forces was widespread," especially in those three areas, which have been classified by ABRI as Military Operations Areas.
  2. "A thorough and impartial investigation into the use of rape as a method of torture and intimidation by the military in Irian Jaya is imperative." The Special Rapporteur found that no perpetrators have been brought to trial, there has been no compensation to victims and their children, and "human rights abuses continue to occur even under the new regime."

The Special Rapporteur recommended that the Indonesian government:

  1. Consider establishing a "truth and reconciliation process for the victims of state violence before May 1998;"
  2. Launch a national "zero tolerance" campaign, endorsed at the highest level and in partnership with nongovernmental organizations, against the use of terror against members of civil society; and
  3. Allow "unrestricted access to all parts of the country by independent human rights monitors."



The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, through its annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, honors individuals who, at great risk, stand up to government oppression in the nonviolent pursuit of respect for human rights. Based on the development of effective partnerships with laureates and other activists, the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights (RFK Center) carries out projects that support or complement the work of the Award laureates and advance respect for human rights in their countries. The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial has Category II consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The RFK Center's Indonesia work grows out of the 1993 RFK Human Rights Award presented to Indonesian lawyer Bambang Widjojanto. Mr. Widjojanto, honored for his work defending the rights of indigenous peoples of Irian Jaya (West Papua), served for seven years as director of the Irian Jaya branch of the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Indonesia's leading human rights organization. He now heads the entire Legal Aid network of more than 100 lawyers throughout the country and continues to be a strong advocate for local communities.

In compiling the information contained within this report, the RFK Center worked closely with the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (IHRSTAD), formerly called the Irian Jaya Working Group for Justice and Peace, based in Jayapura, the capital of Irian Jaya. IHRSTAD has played a major role in the investigation and documentation of abuses detailed in two major human rights reports, the first released by the Catholic Bishop of Jayapura in August 1995 and the second released in May 1998 by the Catholic church and two Protestant churches based in the Irian Jaya subdistrict of Mimika.(3) IHRSTAD's documentation of the cases outlined in Section III made the current report possible.

The Amungme and Nduga peoples, whose members have been the target of the human rights violations detailed in this report, are indigenous to the southern Central Highlands of Irian Jaya. The government's relations with these indigenous communities have been determined primarily by an economic policy imperative to exploit Irian Jaya's natural resource -- particularly mineral -- wealth (for a full discussion, see Section IV). Indonesia's Armed Forces (ABRI) are constitutionally mandated to maintain internal security and develop the nation. A primary reason for military presence and action in Irian Jaya is the protection of the Indonesian government's economic interests in the area, which are defined by the state as development projects. Thus, the human rights violations by the military detailed here are directly related to the economic and social policies of the Indonesian state.

In a speech at Indonesia's Gadja Mada University in 1962, Robert F. Kennedy stated, in reference to the recently erected Berlin Wall, "A society which is required to shoot down women and children to keep them within its borders admits its own failures and defeats." In Irian Jaya, the military's violence toward indigenous peoples reflects a similar set of failures. Kennedy's judgement would be equally fitting today if applied to the military's acts of sexual violence against indigenous women in Irian Jaya and the Indonesian government's failure to exercise due diligence in the protection of these women's human rights and the rights and well-being of their fellow community members.



All of the following cases of abuse against Papuan women and girls, except the first, occurred during the military operations conducted since 1996 by ABRI, including Special Forces (Kopassus), in connection with the hostage crisis described in Section IV of this report. The first case was publicly documented in an August 1995 report released by the Catholic Church of Jayapura. All names have been withheld to protect the victims.

Due to fear of reprisal and the shame associated with rape -- as well as the lack of access to these areas and the absence of effective channels for reporting human rights violations -- incidents of violence against women in Irian Jaya are likely greater than reported.

  1. In October 1994, Indonesian soldiers from the Paniai Battalion 752, stationed in the town of Timika, detained and tortured Ms. A(4) and Ms. B, along with three male Amungme civilians. At midnight on October 9, 1994, seven ABRI soldiers came to A's home and took her to the Koperapoka military post for interrogation; she was accused of providing food to the outlawed Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM or Free Papua Movement). Five soldiers forcibly entered A's house, while two remained in the car outside. One of the soldiers lifted the mosquito net around her bed with the tip of his rifle and ordered her to come with them. A and B and the three men were first taken to a shipping container provided to the military by the mining company PT Freeport, a subsidiary of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. The armed forces were using the container as a detention facility. The container was already full of detainees,(5) so A, B and the three men were taken to the police station, where the two women were held in a toilet room, flooded with water containing human feces. The three men arrested with them were kept in a dry room.(6) Upon further investigation following the release of the August 1995 Catholic Church's report, the RFK Center determined that the military used a Freeport security car driven by a member of Freeport's security detail to transport A and B. During their month-long detention, A and B were repeatedly interrogated and tortured by soldiers. B and the soldiers did not share a common language; in their efforts to force her to speak, the soldiers prodded her with the muzzles of their weapons and placed a heavy iron weight on her head for an hour. They then placed the weight on her shoulders for another hour before forcing her to hold the weight in her arms for yet another hour. According to B, "They put a paper on the table and accused me of being second in command of the OPM. They told me I should confess. They put a gun in my mouth to force me to give them information, but I couldn't understand them. Then they put a rope around my neck and tried to hang me, but I didn't say anything. So they got a piece of tire and hit me on the back of the neck. They tied the tire around my legs and forced me to kneel. I fell unconscious."(7) According to A, to whom B related her experience when she was returned to the toilet room: "When they brought [B] back, she could not speak, she kept shaking and crying. . . . [They] put the gun against her breast to force her to talk [and then] they fondled her breast to find out whether [B] was afraid or not..."(8)
  2. In July 1996, a member of ABRI Unit Rajawali I attempted to rape an 11-year-old girl, but her mother chased the soldier away from their garden. The soldier then encountered C, 60 years old, and asked her to have sexual intercourse with him. Ms. C refused, and the soldier threatened her with a bayonet and raped her.
  3. D, 19 years old, was raped by a member of ABRI Unit 751(9) in 1997.
  4. E, 11 years old, was speaking with a local boy who had been recruited to guard a path near an army checkpoint. She was approached by a member of ABRI Unit 751, who tore her clothes off and raped her.
  5. Soldiers of the Kopassus special forces and of ABRI Unit 752 occupied the house of F, 25 years old, in Mapnduma village. During the occupation, the soldiers persistently asked Ms. F to give them her daughter, who was then approximately 11 or 12 years old. F refused their demands each time and sought to protect her daughter by hiding her in the pig sty. One day when they asked her again and she refused, the soldiers beat her, tore her clothes and raped her as she held her baby. Soldiers stood by and took photos as F was repeatedly raped.
  6. While with her daughter in their garden in Lengga, Mapnduma village, G, 19 years old, was dragged to the forest and raped by a group of ABRI Unit 751 soldiers.
  7. H, 23 years old, was coming from her garden in Kuid village when she encountered seven members of ABRI Unit 751. In accordance with cultural prescriptions of female deference to males, she moved aside to let the soldiers pass. The seven military personnel grabbed Ms. H and raped her. Four hours later, she was found weak and unconscious and was taken back to her village by her family.
  8. According to her father, I was raped repeatedly by the military personnel who forcibly occupied their house in Mapnduma village.
  9. Military personnel raped J after forcing her to stay with them in a house in Mapnduma. Following this incident, the soldiers intimidated Ms. J, used her as a maid, and raped her repeatedly for the duration of the military's occupation of the village.
  10. According to K, 50 years old, after the Mapnduma hostages were released, the military continued to demand the villagers' pigs, chickens and other goods without payment. When Ms. K was not able to meet the demands of the soldiers, they raped her.
  11. Throughout the military operation, L was repeatedly threatened and raped by military personnel in her home in Mapnduma after her home was occupied.
  12. According to M and her mother, a member of ABRI Unit 751 lured Miss M with candy to an army checkpoint, where she was raped and sodomized. She was three years old at the time. M was unconscious when her mother found her.



Political Context

Although Indonesia achieved independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1949, a dispute continued between the two nations as to which one would control the area then called West New Guinea (or West Irian), today known as Irian Jaya(10) (or West Papua). Through a United Nations-mediated settlement, the two nations agreed, on August 15, 1962, to a Dutch withdrawal, to be followed, by 1969, by a process of self-determination by the people of Irian Jaya. The Indonesian government, claiming logistical and socio-economic constraints, submitted the 1969 Act of Free Choice not to all Papuans, but to eight representative councils, or consultative assemblies, comprised of 1,026 representatives selected by the Indonesian authorities. These consultative assemblies voted unanimously to remain within Indonesia.

Following the Act of Free Choice, the United Nations General Assembly contentiously debated the procedures applied during the implementation of the vote. One concern was that the Indonesian government had failed to inform all populations equally and without bias (it targeted the literate) about the vote and its implications. It was argued in the General Assembly that the people of West New Guinea had not exercised their right to self-determination within the meaning of the 1962 agreement. (Ghana called for a new act of free choice, but the motion was rejected in a vote of 60 to 15, with 39 abstentions.) The resolution accepting the validity of the results of the Act of Free of Choice passed the General Assembly by a vote of 84 to zero with 30 abstentions.(11) Fernando Ortiz Sanz, appointed by the United Nations to oversee the Act of Free Choice, stated in his final report, "I regret to have to express my reservation regarding the implementation of Article XXII of the [1962] Agreement, relating to 'the rights, including the rights of free speech, freedom of movement and of assembly, of the inhabitants of the area.' In spite of my constant efforts, this important provision was not fully implemented and the Administration exercised at all times tight political control over the population."(12)

Opposition to Indonesian rule remains strong. In the year since President Suharto's resignation on May 21, 1998 - and the subsequent opening for greater freedom of expression - there have been numerous expressions of the Papuan peoples' aspiration for independence. These include symbolic raisings of the West Papuan Morning Star flag by peaceful pro-independence demonstrators in the Irian Jaya population centers of Jayapura, Biak, Wamena, Manokwari and Sorong between July 1 and 7, 1998. A crackdown by Indonesian security forces ensued. On July 6, 1998, in the worst case of documented violence, the Indonesian military fired live ammunition and rubber bullets on nonviolent, unarmed demonstrators in Biak, killing at least one person and reportedly injuring 140. The military also arbitrarily detained numerous people and denied medical attention to dozens of civilians wounded in the attack.(13)

On July 24, 1998, in the wake of this crackdown, Irian Jaya's three main Christian churches, community leaders, students' and women's groups, and other civil society organizations formed a nonpolitical coalition to pursue a peaceful solution to Papuans' long-standing concerns.(14) The coalition, the Forum for the Reconciliation of Irian Jaya Society (FORERI), which is open to participation by non-Papuans, has sought to carry forward a process of dialogue with the Indonesian government. On February 26, 1999, Indonesian President Habibie and cabinet ministers met in Jakarta with a 100-member delegation of Papuan representatives to launch the National Dialogue on Irian Jaya.(15) This dialogue is based on Terms of Reference negotiated between Indonesia's State Secretariat (Sekretariat Negara) and FORERI during a five-month period and concluded in February 1999. The dialogue is designed to serve as a peaceful process of conflict resolution to address the aspirations of the Papuan people and to resolve their concerns that have existed since the integration of the territory into the Republic of Indonesia in the 1960s.(16) Issues include widespread human rights violations, governance, land rights, decision-making over natural resource use and management, and population transfers of non-Papuans into the territory under the government's controversial transmigration program and through spontaneous migration.

Following the February 26 meeting, in which the Papuan delegation declared its desire for independence from the Republic of Indonesia,(17) the government's commitment to continuing the National Dialogue remains in doubt. The government has vowed to crack down on "separatists" in the province,(18) and Irian Jaya's Regional Police Chief Hotman Siagian, issued a proclamation on April 17, banning all activities related to discussion and dissemination of the results of the February 26 Jakarta meeting.(19)

Military Activity in Irian Jaya

The military plays a key role in the governance of Irian Jaya and in the implementation of Indonesian economic development policies in the region. The military's primary mission is maintenance of internal security and stability. Under the principle of "dwi fungsi" or "dual function," ABRI's role extends to the political and social spheres with the goal of "developing the nation."(20) This includes the protection of the Indonesian government's economic interests in Irian Jaya.(21) Since 1969, there has been an extensive military presence in Irian Jaya, which has been classified as a "Daerah Operasi Militer" (DOM) or "Military Operations Area"(22) (the other two such areas are East Timor and Aceh). DOM status limits access by outside observers, like journalists and researchers, who are required to obtain a permit (surat jalan) either through the director general of the Social and Political Affairs Department (Dit Sospol) or the region's military commander. Once in the area, they must report to military checkpoints in the villages they visit. In further restricted "Red Zone" areas, local people are required to carry "pass permits," obtained from the village head (kepala desa) or from the local military commander, in order to go in and out of villages, including to hunt and garden.

The Central Highlands area in which most of the attacks on women and girls documented in this report occurred remains under military control, under the new status of "Critical Control Area" (see endnote 14). The military continues to restrict freedom of movement by local residents. According to the largest community organization in the area, civilians are mistreated and tortured by the military if they do not have travel papers.(23) In addition, ABRI forces in the area reportedly are subjecting civilians to forced labor in the collection of gaharu, a commercially valuable resin that is extracted from trees and used in the production of incense.(24) According to local sources, military troops are also engaged in the illegal trade of tropical birds that they capture in the Highlands and transport to Jakarta and other cities via the airport in Timika.

As stated, a primary reason for military presence and action in Irian Jaya is the protection of the Indonesian government's economic interests in the area. Irian Jaya is home to the world's largest open-pit gold mine: the Grasberg mine, primarily owned and fully operated by the U.S. company Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., of New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1973, then-President Suharto, in keeping with his New Order government's emphasis on economic growth, declared the Freeport mine to be one of Indonesia's ten national assets. Freeport is reported to be one of the Indonesian government's leading foreign taxpayers.(25) The relationship between Freeport, the government of Indonesia and the indigenous peoples of Irian Jaya -- and the role of the military (ABRI) and special forces (Kopassus) in that relationship -- has been dominated by the extraordinary wealth of Freeport's mining operations.(26) Conversely, the government and military have relied on Freeport's presence and its financial support to establish a foothold in the southwest area of Irian Jaya.

As a foreign investor and contractor to the government of Indonesia, Freeport has not distanced itself from the military and does, in fact, enjoy its protection. The company has provided the military with lodging and transportation, including company barracks and vehicles. Timika, the main town within Freeport's project area, has served as the staging ground for the military operations in Mapnduma and other areas of the Central Highlands.

In September 1995, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), established by the Indonesian government, released its findings on human rights violations in the Timika area of Irian Jaya between October 1994 and June 1995. Its report confirmed that the Indonesian military operating in and around the Freeport project area was responsible for the killing of at least sixteen civilians and the disappearance of at least four individuals living in the area. The Commission stated that the violations "are directly connected [to the army] . . . acting as protection for the mining business of PT Freeport Indonesia . . . classified by the Indonesian Government as a vital project." The Commission also cited military operations against the OPM as a reason for the violations.(27)

The Commission concluded that human rights violations by the security forces against local inhabitants could be "clearly identified." These violations included "indiscriminate killings, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, unlawful arrest and arbitrary detention, disappearance, excessive surveillance, and the destruction of property."(28) The Commission called on the Indonesian government and military to investigate these occurrences and prosecute those responsible. They also recommended government compensation to the victims and their families. To date, only one of the confirmed incidents has resulted in an investigation and prosecutions. No victims have received compensation, and human rights concerns in and around the project area persist. After the release of the May 1998 churches' report, the Commission made two visits to Bela and Alama and confirmed "gross human rights violations" in the area. Soldiers have been prosecuted and convicted in connection with only one such abuse, the killing of Protestant pastor Wenesobuk Nggiwijangge in Mapnduma.

The Indonesian military cites OPM activities -- viewed as threats to political stability -- as a central reason for its presence in Irian Jaya.(29) According to a 1995 Amnesty International report on women in Indonesia and East Timor, "Arbitrary and incommunicado detention is routinely used to intimidate suspected opponents and to gather political intelligence."(30) Ms. A and Ms. B were detained for one month, reportedly because of their family ties to a local OPM leader. The May 1998 report on human rights violations in the Central Highlands of Irian Jaya compiled by three Mimika-based churches details abuses against people and their property as a result of "military operations, in which military forces were not only tasked with crushing the Free Papua Movement but with securing the 'vital project' of PT Freeport Indonesia Inc."(31) An IHRSTAD monitor, while investigating the Mapnduma area in June 1998, discussed human rights abuses with the Kopassus Lt. Commander of a military checkpoint, who told him, "The presence of the military here is important because there are guerrillas, and the military is here to make sure that investors can come in."(32)

The Mapnduma Hostage Taking

The military abuses described in this report -- apart from those against Ms. A and Ms. B -- were the result of ongoing military operations in the Central Highlands. These operations were carried out primarily by Kopassus forces, under the command of then-Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto, and other military units stationed in the Mapnduma area in response to the taking of two scientific research teams (the 1995 Lorentz Scientific Expedition Team and the January 1996 World Wildlife Fund team) as hostages by local indigenous people.

In November 1995, a team of scientists (the Lorentz Team) entered the Mapnduma area to conduct research activities. This area is part of the Lorentz National Park, which has been nominated by the Indonesian government as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to local people, representatives of Indonesian NGOs and Indonesian Evangelical Church officials (of the Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia (GKII), one of the major Protestant Churches in Irian Jaya; GKII parishioners have been affected by the military operations), the village had, until the 1996 hostage taking and the military operations that followed, been almost completely isolated from civilian government representatives and the military. Thus, one of the first direct experiences of the state that local people had was the military presence and the accompanying human rights violations. They had, however, knowledge of state-sponsored economic development projects and reportedly were deeply concerned about the environmental destruction and human rights abuses experienced by the Amungme and other indigenous communities living in Freeport's project area. In fact, according to local people, Freeport had been carrying out exploration activities in their villages -- Mapnduma, Bela and Jila -- since the early 1990s. These factors caused the hostage takers to distrust outside researchers, particularly the Lorentz Team, whose attitudes and treatment of the natural environment were deemed by the Nduga to be disrespectful of the earth, which is sacred to them.

The Lorentz Team was followed in January 1996 by a group of researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). A meeting was held on January 8, 1996, between the local Nduga people and the research teams to discuss the concerns of the Nduga, particularly relating to the potential impact of the WWF team's future activities on the Nduga's traditional right to control the natural resources of the Mapnduma Valley. During the meeting, a disagreement arose between the local people and the research teams. After storming out of the meeting, Daniel Yudak Kogeya, a local leader who had served as a porter for the Lorentz team, reportedly returned with approximately 200 other Papuan people, who attacked the meeting's attendees and took the researchers hostage. The OPM later assumed responsibility for holding the hostages.

In response to the hostage taking, the Indonesian military (ABRI) entered Kenyam I Village in the Mapnduma area and made it their local base for activities to free the hostages. (The military also dramatically increased its presence in Timika, which was used as a staging ground for operations in the Central Highlands.) During this time, military personnel took over local inhabitants' houses. As a result, owners were forced to live elsewhere, many community members fled the village in fear, and a number were shot when intercepted by the military. During the military's time in Kenyam, soldiers perpetrated numerous abuses against villagers: killings, torture, rape, intimidation, destruction of goods and property, and restricted access to foodstuffs and other vital supplies.

Leaving their communities and gardens to escape military repression, hundreds of indigenous people from Mapnduma and other villages have been internally displaced. This displacement has had a severe impact on women. As detailed in the May 1998 report by the Mimika-based churches, "Human Rights Violations and Disaster in Bela, Alama, Jila and Mapnduma," 46 women and girls died due to disease and famine caused by dislocation from their homes and gardens. The report adds, "According to the International [Committee of the] Red Cross, sixty per cent of the population, mainly children, pregnant women and elderly women, were suffering from malnutrition while ninety to one hundred per cent of the population had plasmodium [which causes malaria] in their blood."(33)

During the period since January 1996, when the military occupation began, this region of the Central Highlands, including Mapnduma, has been a "Red Zone" or "closed military area" in which residents' movement within the area requires a travel permit and non-residents are prohibited from entering the area. This has exacerbated the violence perpetrated by the military against indigenous women in the Central Highlands: the closed-area status has kept outside observers from entering the affected villages and has impeded outside assistance in redressing these human rights violations.



International Legal Standards

The preamble to the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women recognizes that certain groups of women, including indigenous women and women living in rural or remote communities, are particularly vulnerable to acts of violence.(34) Article 1 defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women . . . whether occurring in public or in private life." Article 2(c) further explains that such violence includes "[p]hysical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs." In Article 4(c), the Declaration calls on States, in pursuing a policy to eliminate violence against women, to "[e]xercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons." Article 4(d) calls for the accessibility of national "mechanisms of justice" to redress and remedy acts of violence against women.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5, provides, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Article 3 states, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." This protection is to apply equally to men and women, as Article 2 states, "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, [and] sex . . ." Article 7 provides, "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."

Indonesia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. While this instrument does not refer specifically to violence against women, the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women has explained that Article 1 of the Convention, denouncing discrimination against women, includes, by implication, discrimination through violence.(35)

The Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the monitoring body for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, included violence against women in its definition of discrimination when it adopted General Recommendation No. 19. The Recommendation explains that discrimination against women includes "gender-based violence, which impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general international law or under human rights conventions."(36) The Committee went on to emphasize that such acts include violence committed by "public authorities."(37)

In light of the incidents outlined in this report, the Indonesian government has failed to meet its obligations under CEDAW and under customary international law, particularly as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Indonesian Law

Rape is punishable as a criminal offense under Indonesian law. However, according to the United States Department of State 1997 country report on human rights practices in Indonesia: "Some legal experts report that if a woman does not go immediately to the hospital for a physical examination that produces physical evidence of rape, she cannot bring charges. A witness is also required in order to bring charges."(38) If the only witnesses were participants in the assault, they are unlikely to come forward. In cases of rape by security forces, those who investigate are usually fellow members of the security forces, sometimes of the same unit as those who are accused. Amnesty International observes: "Non-governmental organizations complain that if a woman who is raped by members of the security forces does feel confident enough to report the incident, little action, if any, is taken against those believed to be responsible."(39)

Regional Military Regulations

In November 1995, the Irian Jaya regional commander of ABRI established human rights guidelines, set out in a 15-page booklet, for soldiers and officers in the Kodam VIII/Trikora military regional command.(40) The first guideline calls for each soldier within the Kodam VIII/Trikora ABRI regional command to "respect the spirit of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights." The guidelines call for protection of the "political rights of citizens from acts of cruelty" as well as "protection of home, house, family and individual safety." Orders by military leaders are to be consistent with the law. If human rights abuse occurs, it is to be reported to a superior immediately. Furthermore, the guidelines explain, "Respect of individual integrity includes acts and behavior that: (1) Do not commit torture; (2) Do not treat a person with cruelty or punish them in inhuman ways . . ." The guidelines also incorporate respect for freedom of expression and religion and the requirement of due process. The guidelines state, "When facing other people, imagine that you, your wife or your children are in the situation they are in, [sic] how would you treat them?" The guidelines explicitly prohibit murder, rape, torture, and the use of excessive force.

These military guidelines, which were welcomed by Indonesian civil society members as an important step toward establishing military accountability, have not been reviewed or reaffirmed by successive military commanders and have not been effective in eliminating abuse by the military. There is no indication that any military personnel have been held accountable for violating any of the human rights guidelines.



The RFK Center and IHRSTAD call on the Indonesian government to take the following urgent steps to address violence against women by the Indonesian military:

  1. The Indonesian government and armed forces should ensure that troops refrain from any human rights violations, including acts of violence against women, particularly during operations to free 11 hostages allegedly taken in May 1999 by the OPM in the border town of Arso; in connection with Indonesian military and police actions to shut down public discussion of the National Dialogue; and in connection with the June 7 national elections.
  2. The Ministry of Justice should initiate an investigation and support the prosecution of those military personnel responsible for rapes and other violence against women in Irian Jaya.
  3. The Indonesian government should immediately allow unrestricted access to the Central Highlands by independent human rights monitors. Specifically, representatives from Indonesia's newly established Commission on Violence Against Women and Indonesian human rights NGOs should be given unrestricted access to the Mapnduma area to document human rights violations, including the rapes of Mapnduma women by members of the Indonesian military.
  4. The Indonesian government and military should work to implement the National Human Rights Commission's September 1995 recommendations, including investigating and prosecuting the abuses that have occurred in Irian Jaya and providing compensation for the victims and their family members.
  5. The human rights guidelines for the Kodam VIII/Trikora area should be reaffirmed and vigorously enforced. This should include the establishment of an effective system whereby military personnel can report violations without fear of reprisal. Furthermore, the military should establish such guidelines for its military personnel throughout Indonesia. Authorities should educate all personnel as to the substance and importance of the guidelines and the consequences if they are violated.
  6. The military should stop harassing and arresting women solely on the basis of their family connections or other suspected relationships.
  7. The military should not be used to safeguard private economic operations. When the military plays this role, human rights abuses, like the rapes of Papuan women, are particularly likely to occur.
  8. "Daerah Operasi Militer" (DOM) or "Military Operations Area" and "Critical Control Area" status for Irian Jaya (described in Section IV) should be fully revoked,(41) and troops should be confined to barracks. The government should specifically order the removal of all military forces stationed in the Central Highlands areas described in this report.
  9. The government of Indonesia should carry out its commitment to pursue the National Dialogue on Irian Jaya and to ensure the full and democratic participation of all Papuans. It should specifically ensure the inclusion of Papuan women's perspectives and interests.



  1. Irian Jaya, Indonesia's 26th province, is also known as West Papua; peoples indigenous to this territory are Melanesian and are known collectively as Papuans. Papuan opposition to Indonesian rule is widespread, and there is an active resistance movement, the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM or Free Papua Movement), which consists of small, loosely organized bands armed primarily with bows, arrows and spears. Since September 1998, the OPM reportedly has enacted a unilateral ceasefire.
  2. Mission to Indonesia and East Timor on the issue of violence against women, Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. Economic and Social Council, E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.3, January 21, 1999.
  3. Mimika subdistrict includes the town of Timika and the Freeport mining operations area.
  4. A is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc., ([A], et al v. Freeport-McMoRan, Inc., et al, Civil District Court No. 96-9962 Sec H-12). The suit, based on personal injury and environmental damage claims, seeks to hold the company accountable for its complicity in the abuse that she and other local residents experienced within the Freeport project area. On July 2, 1998, the Supreme Court of Louisiana ruled that the Louisiana courts have jurisdiction over the issues raised in the lawsuit. The case is slated to proceed to a jury trial.
  5. The men held in the container included Sebastianus, Marius, Hosea and Romulus Kwalik, brothers of OPM leader Kelly Kwalik. The men disappeared while in military custody at Infantry Battalion Post 752 in Koperapoka and are presumed dead. The case, reported on by the Catholic Church, has never been investigated or prosecuted by judicial authorities.
  6. Catholic Church of Irian Jaya, Violations of Human Rights in the Timika Area of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, A report by the Catholic Church of Irian Jaya (Jayapura, August 1995), p. 19.
  7. In the Stomach of the Dragon: Impact of Mining in Irian Jaya (Small World Productions, 1998), documentary film.
  8. Catholic Church of Irian Jaya, Violations of Human Rights in the Timika Area of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, p. 20.
  9. The ABRI units identified throughout this section are part of the Kodam VIII Trikora regional military command, which covers the provinces of Maluku and Irian Jaya.
  10. In 1973, at the inauguration of Tembagapura, Freeport's main mining town complex, then-President Suharto renamed the province Irian Jaya or "Victorious Irian." According to Papuans, the name Irian is an acronym that stands for "Integrate with the Republic of Indonesia Against the Netherlands."
  11. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2504 (XXIV), adopted November 19, 1969.
  12. Report of the Secretary General regarding the act of self-determination in West Irian, U.N. Doc. A/7723, November 6, 1969, paragraph 251.
  13. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, "Immediate International Response Needed on Situation in Irian Jaya, Indonesia; Concern for Civilian Wounded Intensifies" (Washington, D.C., July 9, 1998), news advisory. A number of individuals who participated in the flag raisings have been arrested and charged with crimes against the security of the state, conspiracy and other violations of Indonesia's Criminal Code. Some are currently on trial, convicted and incarcerated or under "city arrest." The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in its preliminary report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights regarding the Working Group's visit to Indonesia and East Timor in January-February 1999, concluded that the detentions of the majority of these individuals for their participation in symbolic flag-raising ceremonies are arbitrary and a violation of the right to freedom of expression, protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  14. Statement, Forum for the Reconciliation of Irian Jaya Society (FORERI), Jayapura, July 24, 1998; "Churches Back Calls for Irian Jaya Independence," TEMPO Interaktif, August 3, 1998.
  15. The National Dialogue was first proposed by the Indonesian Parliamentary Fact-finding Team, under the leadership of Parliamentary Speaker Abdul Gafur, following its September 1998 fact-finding mission to Irian Jaya in the wake of the July demonstrations and Indonesian security forces crackdown.
  16. "Kerangka Acuan Dialog Masyarakat Irian Jaya Dengan Bapak Presiden Mengenai Wawasan Masa Depan Irian Jaya," Deputy State Secretary Saafroedin Bahar, State Secretariat (Sekretaris Negara), Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta, February 16, 1999.
  17. "Political Statement of the People of West Papua to the Government of Indonesia," Papuan Delegation to the National Dialogue, Jakarta, February 26, 1999 (official English-language translation).
  18. "Irian Independence Impossible: Habibie," The Jakarta Post, May 4, 1999.
  19. "Jakarta to split up Irian Jaya and eastern Maluku island provinces," Agence-France Presse, April 23, 1999; "Tribal Leader Challenges Police Chief Proclamation," Cenderawasih Pos, April 19, 1999 (unofficial English translation).
  20. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997, Indonesia (Washington, D.C., 1998), p. 1 (online version).
  21. See, for example, Leslie Lopez, "Guardians of a Hydra-like Business Empire," Business Times, November 24, 1995, p. 15. Ms. Lopez writes, "Through partnerships with private business groups, Indonesia's military controls a crazy quilt of ventures valued at billions of US dollars. . . . Indonesia's armed forces . . . makes [sic] no secret about its role in business. Due to limited funding from the government, the military has long legitimized its involvement in the corporate sector as a means to pay for its more than 500,000 member force."
  22. Kodam VIII Trikora Regional Military Commander Major General Amir Sembiring announced that, as of October 1, 1998, the military had lifted the "Daerah Operasi Militer" (Military Operations Area or DOM) status for Irian Jaya and replaced it with "Pengawalan Daerah Rawan" (Critical Control Area) status. Major General Sembiring has not elaborated upon the implications of the latter status. While announcing the withdrawal of combat troops, Maj. Gen. Sembiring suggested that troops carrying out development projects such as construction and classroom education in villages - under the military's dwi fungsi role - might continue. Many local communities and the churches in Irian Jaya, with support from the Indonesian Council of Protestant Churches at the national level, have opposed military operations of any kind, including purported development activities.
  23. "Resolution on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its Implementation on Papuan Soil," Statement by the Amungme Tribal Council (Lembaga Musyawarah Adat Suku Amungme or LEMASA), Timika, December 10, 1998. LEMASA reports in this statement that ABRI personnel threatened and terrorized a number of representatives from Bela and Alama in order to discourage them from attending the LEMASA's December 1998 conference.
  24. "Resolution regarding Land, Natural Resources and the Environment," Statement by the Amungme Tribal Council, Timika, December 12, 1998.
  25. Peter Waldman, "Hand in Glove: How Suharto's Circle and a Mining Firm Did So Well Together," The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 1998, p. A1.
  26. Before Grasberg was discovered, Freeport operated the Ertsberg mine. That mine is now tapped out and the 537-foot-high Ertsberg monolith, one of the world's largest above-ground ore deposits, is now a pit. In addition to the contract-of-work area containing Grasberg and Ertsberg, PT Freeport has a government-sanctioned exploration concession of 2.6 million hectares, which includes areas in which the military has carried out additional human rights violations.
  27. National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia, "Results of Monitoring and Investigating of Five Incidents at Timika and One Incident at Hoea, Irian Jaya During October 1994-June 1995," September 1995, statement.
  28. Ibid.
  29. As this report went to press, Major General Sembiring had announced the reestablishment of DOM for areas of Irian Jaya along its border with Papua New Guinea. Sembiring based this change in military staus on an alleged OPM attack in which four individuals were killed, three wounded and eleven taken hostage in the area of Arso, a border town. Additional Indonesian troops were reportedly being sent to deal with the hostage situation. ("PNG Troops Sent to Help Find Hostages," Post Courier, May 13, 1999.) Noted Papuan Community leader Theys Eluay has publicly condemned the attack, challenged the military's allegation that OPM forces were responsible, and called for a full investigation. ("Irian Jaya: Community Figure Deplores Arso Killing," Antara, May 11, 1999.)
  30. Amnesty International, Women in Indonesia and East Timor: Standing Against Repression (New York, December 1995), p. 4.
  31. Indonesian Evangelical Church (Mimika, Irian Jaya), the Catholic Church, Three Kings Parish (Timika, Irian Jaya), and the Christian Evangelical Church of Mimika, Human Rights Violations and Disaster in Bela, Alama, Jila and Mapnduma, Irian Jaya (Jayapura, May 1998), p. 1.
  32. RFK Center Interview with IHRSTAD staff, September 8, 1998.
  33. Indonesian Evangelical Church (Mimika, Irian Jaya), the Catholic Church, Three Kings Parish (Timika, Irian Jaya), and the Christian Evangelical Church of Mimika, Human Rights Violations and Disaster in Bela, Alama, Jila and Mapnduma, Irian Jaya, p. 24.
  34. U.N. Doc. A/Res/48/104, 1994
  35. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1995/42, p. 21. "Violence is not expressly mentioned [in Article 1] but a proper interpretation of the definition allows it to be included by implication."
  36. Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Eleventh session, General recommendation 19, U.N. Doc. CEDAW/C/1992L.1/Add.15, "General Comment" section, paragraph 7.
  37. Ibid., paragraph 8.
  38. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997, Indonesia, p. 23.
  39. Amnesty International, Women in Indonesia and East Timor: Standing Against Repression, p. 15.
  40. "Directive of the Commander, Military Area VIII/Trikora, Concerning Human Rights," Mal Irja ABRI Operational Command, Major General Dunidja, Instruction No. Skep/96/XII/1995, December 1995.
  41. The revocation of DOM status was recommended to Indonesia's President by the Indonesian Parliament (see "Proposal from the Peoples' Representatives (DPR) to President B.J. Habibie to Visit Aceh and Conduct Dialogue with Irian Jaya," Kompas, September 26, 1998).

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