IV. THE WAMENA VIOLENCE
Wamena, the capital of the Jayawijaya district with a population of just over 100,000, is the largest town in the central highlands of Papua. Eyewitnesses report that expectations of imminent independence were particularly high in highland towns after the congress, and, in Wamena, the Morning Star flag had been flying at numerous locations since July 14, 2000.
In Wamena, as elsewhere in Papua, the emergence of the pro-independence protest movement had been marked by the erection of simple community centers called posko (lit: command post or communications post), usually a simple structure or shack at which neighborhood residents gather to discuss political events and matters of public interest. Such informal community centers had become important gathering points nationwide during the student uprising across Indonesia that led to the fall of Soeharto; in Papua, they became the central locus of pro-independence discussions and often featured display of the Morning Star flag.
On October 3, Presidium leaders in Jayapura claimed that they had won a delay, despite heavy pressure from Indonesian authorities, in the implementation of the ban on the Morning Star flag. They had held out on the ground that President Wahid had to yet formally retract his earlier public assurances that the flag could be flown. After discussions with the police chief, the provincial authorities were said to have agreed not to forcibly lower the flags until the Presidium leadership had been able to meet with President Wahid, with such meeting to be held no later than October 19 and with the ban to go into effect only after the meeting.15 Three days later, however, despite the agreement, the provincial authorities launched a series of coordinated raids on various posko in and around Wamena aimed at suppressing the flag.
The events of October 6 began with a military and police roll call at the field outside Wamena police headquarters at 6:15 a.m. The first posko attack was at 6:45 a.m. In each case, the posts were attacked deliberately and with considerable force. In most, warning shots were fired to disperse Papuans gathered at the posko, the flagpole was chainsawed and the flag torn up or confiscated. Papuans present were beaten, rounded up, and put in police vehicles. By 8:00 a.m., more than fifty people rounded up from five posts had been taken to police headquarters (mapolres). Police there reportedly assaulted detainees, kicking them and beating them with rifle butts and wooden staffs.18
Hearing of the early morning raids, a crowd gathered at the central posko (Posko Induk) in Wamena with reports of the arrests and beatings circulating. At approximately 10:00 a.m., police decided upon a direct assault to disperse the crowd, despite the tense situation. In the assault, ten Papuans were wounded by bullet fire, at least one fatally, a fifty-year-old man who was hit by a stray bullet while walking with his eight-year-old son. Two police were shot, one in the buttocks, one in his right elbow. There had been several previous instances in which forcible government assaults on the flag had resulted in fatalities in Papua between December 1, 1999 and end of 2000,19 but this time tensions exploded.
Throughout the morning, Papuans had flocked to the town to defend the flag. By the early afternoon, a large crowd had gathered across the river from Wamena near the village of Wouma where the Morning Star flag was still flying. In still unexplained circumstances, two migrants were murdered in Wouma.20 Starting at about 3:00 p.m., the crowd crossed the river and took to the streets to protest, burning and looting shops as they went. Shortly thereafter, troops arrived in two trucks. The troops opened fire into the air and at the ground to disperse the crowd and clear the road, but then withdrew in the direction of the town, followed by the Papuan crowd in hot pursuit. At a market-place, shots were fired at the crowd from a nearby migrant residential neighborhood. Seeing that the troops were now using the houses of non-Papuans, the crowd attacked the homes and their inhabitants.21 In the ensuing melee, at least seven Papuans were shot and killed and twenty-four non-Papuans were killed.
Many Papuans have described the police tactics in Wamena, in particular the police decision to shoot at the mob from amidst the homes of migrants, as a deliberate provocation aimed at inducing Papuans to clash with the settlers. However, there had been no such provocation earlier in the day when the two non-Papuan migrants were killed near Wouma or at the time that the rioting and looting began, suggesting that the potential for violence was already present before the arrival of the troops.
In the days following the clash, thousands of non-Papuans fled the area, believing that their lives were in danger, including many teachers. The education system in Wamena was said to still be operating far below capacity when Human Rights Watch visited Papua in March 2001, five months later.22 The violence was also reportedly followed by increased tension between highland Papuans and those from coastal groups, a number of whom are employed in the civil service or in the security forces and thus have been accused of directly or indirectly siding with the authorities.23
Even before the attack on migrants, sixteen Satgas Papua members were arrested in connection with the violent clash at the central posko earlier in the day; another fifty people had been rounded up in the early morning raids by the security forces. All but the original sixteen Satgas Papua members were released over the next two days.
On October 11, senior military, police and civilian officials reached an agreement with local independence leaders, including the Reverend Obet Komba, a Presidium member, and four people who had represented Wamena at the Mubes and congress (such local representatives are known as Panel members) concerning flag raisings, police restraint, and plans for a peace ceremony. That evening, Rev. Komba and the four Panel members were invited to the police command post, ostensibly so that they and the police could _get to know each other._24 Over protest, the five were then questioned until 2:30 a.m. and again the following day until 3:00 p.m. On October 13, the five were told they must identify and hand over the men who had taken part in the attack on migrants. Failure to do so, police authorities said, would result in their being held directly responsible for the killings.
Ultimately, that is what happened. On December 13, 2000, two months after the violence, with none of the perpetrators apprehended, the five were arrested. In addition to Komba, they are: the Reverend Yudas Meage, Yafet Yelemaken, Murjono Murib, and Amelia Yigibalom. The charges against them related specifically to their support for a peaceful flag ceremony on December 1, 1999, and their espousal of independence at the Mubes and congress. In essence, however, the leaders were made scapegoats for the Wamena violence.
Wamena remained tense well into 2001, with high security at the jail where the Satgas Papua members and Panel leaders were being held. Outsiders were kept from monitoring the trials. The Australian branch of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) asked for permission to observe the trials, but was denied, the first time such a request from the Australian ICJ had been rejected by Indonesian authorities.25 On February 4, the local human rights group Elsham reported that Brimob troops had gained access to the prison and interrogated and beaten a number of the prisoners. The Elsham report said that seven of the detainees were kicked and struck with iron rods and rifle butts. Murjono Murip, a school-teacher and one of the Panel members, was struck in the lower back and warned that if he failed to confess that he had instigated the violence in Wouma, he would have his nails pulled out and his nose cut off. The other six wounded men were all members of the Satgas Papua.26
On March 10, the verdicts were announced. The Satgas Papua members received sentences of between six and ten months of imprisonment; the Rev. Obet Komba and the Panel leaders were sentenced to between four and four-and-a-half years of imprisonment.
The prosecution and imprisonment the Panel leaders because of their support for independence, but without any evidence that they were individually responsible for the rioting on October 6, constitutes a violation of freedom of expression, association, and assembly. As described below, it also has exacerbated resentment and tensions in the Wamena region.27
Immigrants from other parts of Indonesia now form a significant proportion of the population in Irian Jaya. The proportion of the population born outside the province grew from just 4 percent of the population in 1971 to over 20 percent of the total population of 1.7 million in 1990.28 Although more recent figures on the breakdown of the population by origin or ethnicity were unavailable at this writing, many Papuans told Human Rights Watch that they believe the non-Papuan population is now roughly 40 percent of the total population.
The growth of the migrant population is the result of now widely discredited, government-sponsored _transmigration_ programs, in which people, typically poor peasants, from more populous areas of Indonesia were settled in less crowded areas,29 as well as of spontaneous migration by individuals and families seeking better economic prospects. Most economic migrants in Papua originate from Sulawesi, Java, and the Moluccan islands (Maluku), with those from Sulawesi (primarily of Buginese, Makassarese, and Butonese ethnicity) accounting for over half of the influx. Whether attracted by government positions, as many Javanese have been, or by employment at markets in urban areas or in industries such as sawmilling and logging, as many migrants from Sulawesi have been, the economic migrants tend to be concentrated in urban areas. Already in 1990, the urban population of the province was nearly evenly divided between Papuan-born and non-Papuan-born residents.30
As they are disproportionately represented in higher income trades and professions, the migrants have long been resented by some Papuans, and tensions have often flared into violence. The Wamena rioting, however, was the worst such incident in Papuan history, and, as discussed below, it has been followed by a number of lesser incidents in which migrant laborers have been targeted by Papuan militants.
The Wamena violence demonstrates the corrosive effect of the growing _Papua for Papuans_ sentiment and anti-migrant hostility. The violence invited a crackdown and heightened military presence in the region, undermining much of the progress that had been made toward dialogue. According to local people, it left Papuan-migrant relations severely frayed and at risk of erupting into further violence. The impact was exacerbated when, after the rioting, police authorities publicly called on migrants to arm themselves.
The Wamena violence was a serious setback for the wider community. Because the leaders of the rioting have never been caught and punished, migrants continue to fear for their safety. The security forces, widely seen as the instigator of the entire incident, have been further discredited. And among ethnic Papuans themselves, the incident has only widened divisions.
15 Human Rights Watch interview with Willy Mandowen, Jakarta, March 10, 2001.
16 The following account of the Wamena incident is based largely on the excellent, eighty-page investigative report, based on dozens of eyewitness interviews, titled _Peristiwa Tragedi Kemanusiaan Wamena 6 Oktober 2000 Sebelum dan Sesudahnya: Sebuah Laporan Investigasi,_ January 2001, prepared by the Justice and Peace Center at the Jayapura Diocese (Sekretariat Keadilan dan Perdamaian), KONTRAS Papua, Elsham, and LBH-Jayapura (copy on file at Human Rights Watch).
17 Ibid., pp. 10-22.
18 Ibid., p. 17.
19 A list of these cases is set forth in section VI below.
20 "Peristiwa Tragedi Kemanusiaan Wamena,_ p. 23.
21 Ibid., p. 24
22 Ibid., pp. 43-44; Human Rights Watch interview with BH, Abepura, March 7, 2001.
23 _Peristiwa Tragedi Kemanusiaan Wamena,_ pp. 45-46; Human Rights Watch interview with PT, Abepura, March 7, 2001.
24 Ibid., p. 30.
25 "Australian ICJ seeks help from federal government," Australian Associated Press, February 15, 2001.
26 Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Hak Asasi Manusia (Elsham), _Aparat Brimob Menganiaya Para Tahanan Hakim di Lembaga Pemasyarakatan Wamena: _Proses Persidangan Terbuka Dikawal Ketat Aparat Keamanan,__ February 9, 2001.
27 _Peristiwa Tragedi Kemanusiaan Wamena,_ pp. 42-46
28 Chris Manning and Michael Rumbiak, _Irian Jaya: Economic Change, Migrants, and Indigenous Welfare,_ in Hal Hill, ed., Unity and Diversity: Regional Economic Development in Indonesia since 1970 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 89.
29 For a discussion of the transmigration program in Irian Jaya, see ibid., pp. 97-104. Between 1964 and 1986, the government-sponsored transmigration program brought over 100,000 persons to the province; 165,000 economic migrants came on their own to the province between 1971 and 1990.
30 Ibid., p. 89. Many of the migrants are Muslim, leading some Papuans to express concern about perceived "Islamization" of the province. To date, however, Papua has not witnessed anything like the violent interreligious conflict present in the neighboring Maluku region.