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Separatist flag-raisings across Irian Jaya in the first week of July 1998 were the first sign that post-Soeharto freedoms of association and expression might be used to mount a civil-society-based campaign for independence. The demonstrations, not all of which were peaceful, led to shootings of demonstrators by security forces in the provincial capital, Jayapura, and in the district of Biak; to arrests in Sorong, Wamena, and Jayawijaya; and to rioting by angry mobs in Manokwari.18

In Jayapura, on July 3, 1998, an undercover policeman was beaten to death by angry crowds, and soldiers fatally shot a student. In Biak, a group of Papuans managed to keep a separatist flag aloft for four days, but were brutally dispersed on the morning of July 6. After a year-long investigation, a local human rights organization reported that five civilians had died, thirty-seven had been wounded, and three had gone missing as a result of the army operation in Biak.19

Alarmed by the widespread and volatile demonstrations, the Habibie government announced on July 22, 1998 that it would send a parliamentary fact-finding team to Irian Jaya to discuss local grievances, under the chairmanship of then-deputy speaker of the Indonesian parliament, Abdul Gafur. Members of the team spent much of August in the province before concluding that independence demands were the result of human rights violations, popular unhappiness with government-sponsored transmigration projects, concerns about Islamicization in a traditionally Christian area, and the underrepresentation of indigenous Papuans in the local government - and from the "latent influence of the OPM."20

Meanwhile, church leaders, activists, and intellectuals in Irian Jaya resolved to find a more effective, less violence-prone channel for Papuan aspirations, and, on July 24, 1998, a new organization called the Forum for the Reconciliation of the Irian Jaya Society (FORERI) was formed. In a statement, FORERI's founders asserted that what Papuans wanted was "an opportunity to handle their own affairs," through one of three possible forms: full independence, wide-ranging autonomy within the Indonesian unitary state, or the formation of a federal system in which Irian Jaya would enjoy substantial autonomy.21

The question of Irian Jaya's political status could not be considered taboo, FORERI's founders asserted, because it had been raised at three important moments in Indonesia's history. On all three occasions, they said, the majority of Papuans had been shut out of the debate. In 1945, when the territorial extent of the new Republic was debated at meetings of the Committee for the Preparation of Independence, not a single Papuan had been present. At meetings in New York in 1962, when the Netherlands agreed to transfer control of its territory to Indonesia, Papuans had attended as part of Dutch and Indonesian delegations but had not been allowed to speak on their own account. In 1969, only 1,025 Indonesia-appointed delegates had participated in the Act of Free Choice specified by the New York Agreement, and resistance "was met with the force of arms."22

The FORERI statement went on to assert that more than thirty years as part of Indonesia had left Papuans with a perception that the central government was more concerned with exploiting the territory's abundant natural resources than improving the conditions of its people. State-perpetrated killings, rapes, torture, and other violations of civil and political rights, it was said, had led many local people to conclude that Indonesia's so-called development policies were, in effect, no more than a brutal form of colonization. In conclusion, the FORERI statement observed that demands for self-governance required careful study and open dialogue, not a unilateral offer of greater autonomy within Indonesia, and it called for a referendum to determine Papuan opinion on the matter.23

On July 29, 1998, in a meeting at the Matoa Hotel in Jayapura, FORERI members broached the idea with the parliamentary fact-finding team of holding a "national dialogue" on the future of Irian Jaya. The Habibie government cautiously welcomed the idea, and concrete discussions on how to conduct a national dialogue began in October 1998, involving Papuans in both Jakarta and Jayapura, provincial government officials, parliament members, and staff of the State Secretariat in Jakarta. That month, FORERI submitted a draft framework for the talks to the government in Jakarta.24 In November, the State Secretariat appointed FORERI the official facilitator of the National Dialogue.

After several months' negotiations, the State Secretariat issued the final framework document on February 16, 1999, in which it outlined three stages for the Dialogue on the Future of Irian Jaya. First, there would be a "heart-to-heart talk" between President Habibie and a representative group of 100 Papuans on February 26, 1999. Then, a policy workshop would be held in late March, to be attended by "delegates from every regency and city district, traditional community leaders, religious leaders, government representatives, veterans of the military campaign against the Dutch in Irian Jaya, participants in the 1969 Act of Free Choice, specialists, and representatives of the central and regional governments."25 Finally, following the workshop, joint recommendations on follow-up steps would be presented to the president and parliament.26

In a country where authority is highly concentrated in the national capital, the National Dialogue as described in the framework was probably one of the most inclusive plans for policy formation that had ever been envisioned for an outlying province. Moreover, it was given added weight by the fact that it was based on a proposal that had originated in the province.

The original draft framework that FORERI submitted to the State Secretariat in October, however, had called for an even wider range of participants, including international observers.27 It called for a guarantee of safety for participants from Irian Jaya, before, during, and after the dialogue, and provided for participants to express their views to the president in their native languages, instead of the national language Bahasa Indonesia. The final framework omitted these points but retained as topics for discussion issues such as land rights, unemployment, inequality, and human rights.

The key difference between the FORERI draft and the final framework concerned the history of Irian Jaya's integration into Indonesia. Whereas the original framework had cited that history as "the source of a sense of injustice," the final version made clear that the political status of the province was not up for negotiation. Although noting that "there are sectors of the population in Irian Jaya which judge that the [Act of Free Choice] did not accommodate their aspirations for self determination," the final framework emphasized that the international community had validated the process by which West Irian was "returned" to the Republic of Indonesia. The government's version of the framework emphasized that the New York Agreement had not specified a one-person-one-vote procedure but instead had called for "consultations with representative councils on procedures and appropriate methods to be followed for ascertaining the freely expressed will of the population." The government's version did not mention that the New York Agreement also specified that the consultation be held "in accordance with international practice," which, Papuans argued, required a one-person-one-vote procedure to have been used.

While the details of the framework for the National Dialogue were being worked out, there was a rising sense of expectation in Irian Jaya. Local newspapers, taking advantage of Indonesia's new found press freedom, reported each new development, and all over Irian Jaya, people of widely differing backgrounds found they could openly discuss an issue which they could only speak about in secret during the Soeharto era. According to one civil servant from the Merauke district, for example, many people saw the National Dialogue as a new chance for self-determination, one which, unlike the first, was being widely explained and prepared for in Irian Jaya.28

To counter claims by the army, police, and regional government that only a small group of agitators wanted independence, Papuan community leaders developed a strategy to conduct an informal referendum, offering a choice between provincial autonomy, a federal state, or independence.The wide and almost spontaneous proliferation of the survey, beginning in November, demonstrated the flourishing of province-wide networking despite Irian's formidable geography and lack of infrastructure. In a small riverside town in Merauke district, for example, one man spent two nights typing a survey on 1000 sheets of paper for distribution to 32 villages.29 In the district of Yapen Waropen on the north coast, surveys were delivered by boat to 153 towns in eight subdistricts; 16,486 people voted.30 The survey results were brought to Jakarta as input to the National Dialogue. Over ninety percent of "many thousand" voted for independence, according to one person involved in the dialogue process.31

On February 15, when the February 26 date for the meeting with President Habibie in Jakarta had been set, FORERI staff called each of Irian Jaya's thirteen districts and instructed that four-person delegations be selected as democratically as possible in the time available. Twenty-five places in the "Team of 100" had been reserved for Papuans living outside Irian Jaya; a committee from Jakarta flew to cities with sizable Papuan communities and held meetings at which the twenty-five participants were selected. The remaining members were chosen from social groups in Irian Jaya, such as Muslim communities, women's organizations, and students.32

The selection process was completed late at night on February 21, when teachers, civil servants, paramedics and nurses, tribal leaders, students, priests, activists, and a few one-time members of the OPM converged on Jayapura. Only one district had been able to narrow its selection down to four people; many would-be delegates were turned away in last minute judgements by FORERI facilitators. Despite its flaws and the speed with which it had been put together, it was without doubt the most representative body of Papuans ever assembled. As the team rode to the airport on February 23, accompanied by FORERI staff and regional government officials, residents from villages all along the thirty kilometer road to the airport in Sentani lined up to watch them pass.33

Team members included:
C Tom Beanal, an Amungme tribal leader from Timika and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the U.S. company Freeport McMoRan. Beanal was chosen as leader of the Team of 100;
C Herman Awom, assistant general secretary of the Evangelical Christian Church of Irian Jaya in Jayapura;
C Cunradus Bauw, a leader of the Mbaham Mattu tribe in the Fak-Fak district on Irian Jaya's south coast;
C Diaz Gwijangge, a member of the Nduga tribe from Mapnduma, Jayawijaya district, and an anthropology major at Irian Jaya's foremost university, Universitas Cenderawasih in Jayapura;
C Muhammad Said Sabuku, a social worker and community leader from the town of Kaimana in the Fak-Fak district, and, rare among Papuans, a Muslim;
C Marike Rumbiak, a nurse from the island of Biak off Irian Jaya's northern coast;
C Frans Kamepict, a member of the Asmat tribe from the vast plain in the south of Irian Jaya, who works as a paramedic in the city of Merauke;
C Maria Korano, a theology student in Jayapura, originally from Biak;
C Yakomina Isir, a high school geography teacher in the city of Sorong on the western tip of Irian Jaya;
C Marthen Yusuf Tanawani, head of the tradition council of Yapen Waropen District and an employee in the regional office of the Department of Information;
C Yorrys Raweyai, a Jakarta resident born in Serui. His father, an ethnic Chinese merchant from Ujung Pandang, was considered a hero of the Indonesian cause because during the Dutch era he smuggled letters from pro-Indonesian Papuans aboard ships carrying his goods to Jakarta. Yorrys moved to Jakarta in the 1970s; a leader of the notorious, often violent, pro-government youth group Pemuda Pancasila, he became close to New Order political figures and eventually to members of the Soeharto family.34

On the morning of February 26, after a prayer service at their Jakarta hotel, team members lined up to sign a joint statement which a small group had been delegated to compose. Then they boarded a bus and arrived at the Palace of State in time for a luncheon where team members chatted with ministers of Habibie's "Reform Cabinet." Official business began with a brief welcome from Irian Jaya's Governor Numberi, after which journalists were required to leave.35

While all the Papuans in the room knew the basic thrust of the group statement, FORERI staff and even some team of 100 members heard it for the first time when Tom Beanal stood up and delivered it. From its first sentence, the statement made clear that the delegates from Irian Jaya had not come to Jakarta to discuss failures of development policy. The statement said:

The core problem that has caused political instability and insecurity in West Papua (Irian Jaya) from 1963 until today is not the failure of development but the political status of West Papua which on December 1, 1961 was declared an independent nation among other nations in the world. The declaration [of independence] represented the best avenue for fulfillment of the hopes and goals of [the people of] West Papua, but nevertheless it was annexed by the Republic of Indonesia.

We honestly wish to convey to the President of the Republic of Indonesia that there is no other alternative [basis] from which we can consider and evaluate the Indonesian Government's continued wish to develop West Papuan people in the context of the unified state of the Republic of Indonesia.

Therefore, today, Friday February 26, 1999, before the President of the Republic of Indonesia, we the people of West Papua state that:

First, we the people of West Papua wish to remove ourselves from the unified state of the Republic of Indonesia to realize independence and full sovereignty among the other nations in the world.

Second, to immediately form a transitional government in West Papua under the supervision of the United Nations (UN) democratically, peacefully and responsibly in March 1999 at the latest.

Third, if no solution is reached to the first and second points of the political statement, we therefore demand: a. To immediately hold an international dialogue with the government of the Republic of Indonesia, the people of West Papua and the United Nations. b. That we, the people of West Papua, herewith state that we will not take part in the general election of the Republic of Indonesia in 1999.36

According to participants, the statement caused clear consternation among the twenty-one cabinet ministers seated behind President Habibie.37 It was precisely one month since Habibie's announcement that Indonesia would consider independence for East Timor if its people rejected provincial autonomy.

After the statement was read, other designated speakers expressed their support for its contents. One man who had participated in the 1969 Act of Free Choice spoke about the climate of terror that had existed at the time and its influence on those participating. Another described a particularly grisly human rights violation in Sarmi, Jayapura in 1992, in which he said Indonesian soldiers had killed a man, roasted his body, and then told his family to eat it.38

At this point, the Indonesian government's protocol officer unexpectedly deviated from the list of agreed speakers and invited to the microphone three people from the back of the room who were not members of the Team of 100. There were outraged shouts and challenges when the interlopers, all residents of Jakarta, said they represented Papuans in favor of provincial autonomy.39

In the midst of a now tense atmosphere, Habibie waved away a booklet handed to him by State Secretary Akbar Tanjung, and spoke without notes, stating that a response prepared by his assistants could be photocopied and handed out later.40 He had been advised not to meet with the group, he said, but had felt it was his duty to do so. He acknowledged the truth of what had been said, describing it as an honest reflction of a painful experience, and stating that he appreciated the "dignified" way in which it had been communicated. "The aspirations you have expressed are important, but founding a country isn't easy; let's contemplate those aspirations again," Habibie said. "Go home, and take my greetings to the Papuan people."41

After the meeting, Tom Beanal, Yorrys Raweyai, and FORERI's secretary general, Willy Mandowen, went to the Palace press room for a joint press conference, but representatives of the government failed to appear. The government's prepared response was never handed out.42

That the National Dialogue had ground to a halt was very soon evident to some of its organizers. Willy Mandowen, designated by State Secretary Akbar Tanjung as an organizer of the next-step policy workshop, remained in Jakarta for two weeks after the meeting, but waited in vain for any response from the State Secretariat to his calls about the workshop.43 The second and third stages of the National Dialogue never took place.

Members of the Team of 100, meanwhile, variously exhilarated by their experiences in Jakarta or frustrated by the lack of a concrete outcome, set about "socializing" the results of the meeting in their respective districts.44 Disseminating contents of the Dialogue's terms of reference had been listed as a necessary follow-up step in FORERI's draft framework and in notes published by the State Secretariat in November.45 Beginning in mid March, 1999, therefore, meetings took place all over the province, at private homes, churches, open fields, sports arenas, traditional community houses, and pig roasts.46

18 See Human Rights Watch, "Human Rights and Pro-Independence Actions in Irian Jaya," December 1998; Human Rights Watch, "Indonesia Alert: Trouble in Irian Jaya," July 6, 1998. 19 "Nama Tanpa Pusara, Pusara Tanpa Nama: Laporan Pelanggaran HAM di Biak, Irian Jaya," Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy, Jayapura, July 1999. 20 "Gafur: Bahaya Laten OPM Masih Ada di Irian Jaya," Media Indonesia (Jakarta), August 3, 1998. 21 "Forum for the Reconciliation of Irian Jaya Society (FORERI)," July 24, 1998. Signed by the Reverend Herman Saud, MTh, chair of the Christian Evangelical Church (GKI) in Irian Jaya; Dr. Leo Laba Ladjar OFM, Bishop of Jayapura; The Rev. Dr. Benny Giay, on behalf of the regional chair of the Christian Missionary Alliance (GKII); Theys Eluay and Tom Beanal, traditional leaders; Selviana Sanggenafa SH and Yusan Yeblo, Women's Group; Gerson Abrauw, Maria Korano, and Martinus Werimon, students. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid. 24 Copy and translation on file at Human Rights Watch. 25 "Kerangka Acuan Dialog Masyarakat Irian Jaya Dengan Bapak Presiden Mengenai Wawasan Masa Depan Irian Jaya," Menteri Sekretaris Negara Republik Indonesia. February 16, 1999. 26 On February 25, one day before the scheduled meeting with Habibie, Secretary of State Akbar Tanjung issued a ministerial decree naming members of a committee to oversee the dialogue and organize the policy workshop, and ordering that expenses incurred were to be deducted from the State Secratariat's budget. "Keputusan Menteri Sekretaris Negara Nomor: KEP-14/M.SESNEG/2/1999 Tentang Panitia Dialog dan Lokakarya Mengenai Wawasan Masa Depan Irian Jaya." Committee members included the Secretary of State and several of his staff, the Governor of Irian Jaya, the regional military commander and police chief, members of Parliament, FORERI staff Willy Mandowen and Octovianus Mote, as well as "representatives of government and non-government institutions, to be determined." 27 The draft framework called for 560 "representatives of Irianese people" and 75 "representatives of national and international institutions, organizations and individuals." International guests were to have included representatives of the United Nations, UNHCR, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, several embassies including the Netherlands, the US, ASEAN countries and South Africa. 28 Human Rights Watch interview in Merauke, September 2, 1999. 29 Human Rights Watch interview in Merauke, September 2, 1999. 30 Human Rights Watch interview in Abepura, July 25, 1999. 31 Human Rights Watch interview in New York, October 26, 1999. 32 Human Rights Watch interview in Abepura, July 24, 1999. 33 Ibid.

34 Yorrys continues to be a controversial figure. Because of his wealth and political connections he yields considerable influence in Papuan circles, as elsewhere in Indonesia, and is the leader of the traditional council for the Papuan community in Jakarta. The richest member of the Team of 100, he financed a welcoming ceremony for them at the airport in Jakarta and a press conference at the team's hotel following the meeting with Habibie on February 26, 1999. Many observers believe that Yorrys continues to have close ties to the Soeharto family and accuse him of involvement with paramilitary groups. See Andrew Kilvert, "Soeharto forces 'building militias,'" Sydney Morning Herald, January 21, 2000.

35 Human Rights Watch interviews in Abepura, August 19, 1999 and in New York, October 21, 1999.

36 For a list of signatories, see Appendix II.

37 Human Rights Watch interviews in Abepura, August 19, 1999 and in New York, October 21, 1999.

38 Ibid.

39 The three were Andi Hakim, Ali Mochtar, and Jacobus Dimara, the last an elderly pro-integration veteran. The provincial government of Irian Jaya, which had been largely shut out of facilitating or participating in the dialogue, also brought a "Team of 150" to Jakarta in March; Habibie declined to meet with them.

40 This account of Habibie's response was given by Octovianus Mote, a key facilitator of the National Dialogue and former Jayapura bureau chief of the newspaper Kompas, who was present at the time.

41 It was considered noteworthy that Habibie used the expression "Papuan," a term usually avoided in Jakarta because of its political overtones, and also that he characterized the Team of 100 statements as true, instead of saying they were the product of manipulation.

42 Human Rights Watch interview with Octovianus Mote, December 2, 1999.

43 Ibid.

44 The term used here, mensosialisasi, literally "socialization," is a neologism that emerged nationally in the early 1990s, apparently in the context of central government efforts to respond to growing demands for democratic reform. Putatively a sign of increasing democratization, it is used most often to refer to government informational or public relations campaigns, which usually include open public meetings before policies are implemented. It is also now commonly used by citizens' groups, as here, to refer to their own grassroots efforts to disseminate politically significant information and elicit feedback or public approval. The term carries the connotation of "informal public exchange" present in the English root word "socialize," but, at least as used by some government officials, it also appears at times to carry something of the connotation of "imprinting of conventional understanding," present, for example, in the notion that children are "socialized" by schooling.

45 Sekretariat Negara Republik Indonesia, Catatan Kronologis Penyusuan Kerangka Acuan Terpadu Dialog Nasional Mengenai Irian Jaya, November 5, 1998.

46 Human Rights Watch interviews in Abepura, July 24-25, 1999.

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