Unite in solidarity against violence and militarism in West Papua

Joint Labour Secretariat – June 15, 2012
May Day protest in solidarity with West Papua (Sindo News)
May Day protest in solidarity with West Papua (Sindo News)

Friends and comrades, all the people of Indonesia, are you aware of the escalating violence that has been taking place in West Papua over the last few days. Terror, violence and intimidation have become the daily face of life for the Papuan people. Just in May and June, as many as 25 people have been killed and scores injured in “mysterious” shooting incidents.

Instead of paying serious attention to this situation, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has responded by stating that what is occurring in Papua is only “small-scale with a limited number of casualties”. The thousands of lives that have been lost, particularly since West Papua’s integration into Indonesia, are belittled by the president as “small-scale”. The population of indigenous Papuans continues to shrink. The suffering of the mama-mama (traditional Papuan women traders) and Papuan women that have been raped and lost their children, husbands sisters and family members, is dismissed as “small-scale”.

The response to the escalating violence on the other hand has been “large-scale”: increased troop numbers, military operations, expanding the army’s territorial commands and more security posts. Armed soldiers are patrolling settlements, churches, markets and schools, spreading uneasiness and fear among the people.

President Yudhoyono is quick to claim that separatists are behind the series of attacks in Papua. An accusation that is easy make and a convenient scapegoat with the aim of again discrediting the wishes of the Papuan people. The president is laying the blame on the Papuan people, the very ones who are in fact the victims.

The Indonesian government and the state apparatus are unwilling and unable to address the real source of the violence in Papua. The real source of the problems in Papua are the economic injustice suffered by indigenous Papuans since the PT Freeport copper and gold mine began operating, the increasing troop numbers and military operations that have followed this, and the historical problem of West Papua’s integration into Indonesia that the government refuses to evaluate and examine honestly. So separatism and the violence is not the cause, but rather the result, which the government attempts to overcome with militaristic violence instead of democratic and participatory dialogue.

The solution to achieve a peaceful and humanitarian resolution in West Papua is in the hands of the Indonesian and Papuan people, helping each other in solidarity and with the goodness of their hearts. Solidarity with all of those who have become the victims is the key for realising a peaceful Papua, a Papua that is prosperous and dignified. Indonesia will never be fully democratic and prosperous unless West Papua too is democratic and prosperous.

In response to the violence and human rights violations that are taking place in West Papua, we, the Joint Labour Secretariat (Sekber Buruh), representing the people of Indonesia with the courage to fight and act in solidarity with the Papuan people, make the following demands:

1. End all forms of violence against the people and activists in Papua;

2. Withdraw all non-organic troops from Papua;

3. Arrest and try the military and police officers responsible for the murder and shootings;

4. Release jailed Papuan people and activists (Filep Karma, Buchtar Tabuni and others)

5. Form an independent fact finding team to conduct a fast and effective investigation to uncover the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice;

6. Carry out the broadest possible dialogue in a manner that is open, democratic and free from pressure and repression by and for the Papuan people under the supervision of independent national and international institutions.

Sekber Buruh calls on the Indonesian people fight militarism and capitalism, and to declare their solidarity with and oppose the violence that is taking place against the Papuan people.

Joint Labour Secretariat (Sekber Buruh)

Jakarta, June 15 2012

For more information contact:

1. Ilhamsyah: 0812-192-355-52
2. Sultoni: 087-87-87-25-873
3. Jhon: 0813-884-625-34
4. Surya: 0815-743-043-91

Sekber Buruh

Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI), Indonesian Transportation Trade Union of Struggle (SBTPI), Greater Jakarta Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBJ), Indonesian Trade Union Jakarta (SBIJ), United Indonesian Labour Movement (PPBI), Indonesian Automotive Trade Union Federation (FSPOI), Buana Group Textile Trade Union (SPTBG), Indonesian Trade Union Movement (Gesburi), PT Toppan Communication and Information Forum (FKI PT Topan), Suzuki Indonesian Metal Trade Workers Federation (FSPMI Suzuki), Indonesian Independent Trade Union (SBMI), Jakarta Front (Front Jak), Confederation of Prosperity Labor Unions Jakarta (KSBSI Jakarta), Confederation of Prosperity Labor Unions Tangerang (KSBSI Tangerang), Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ), Jakarta International Container Terminal Head Truck Operator Workers Forum (FP OHT JICT), Gasbindo Independent Trade Union (SBM Gasbindo), Jakarta International Container Terminal Trade Union (SP JICT), Indonesian Market Traders Association (IKAPPI), Indonesian Independent Union (SMI), Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN), Indonesian Association of Catholic Students (PMKRI), Urban Students Network (JMK), Indonesian Student League for Democracy (LMND), Jakarta Student Consortium (KMJ), Youth Organisations Union of Struggle (KPOP), Indonesian Cultural Society Union (SEBUMI), Indonesian Youth Front for Struggle (FPPI), People in Movement (Rakber), Movement Indonesia (PI), Free Women National Committee (KNPM), Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA), Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), United Indonesian Struggle (PPI), People’s Liberation Party (PPR), Working People’s Association-Organisational Saviours Committee (KPO-PRP).

[Translated by James Balowski.]