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Papuan Human Rights

West Papua: Indonesian Military Colonel Siagian, indicted for Crimes Against Humanity, rallies militias in West Papua
By Matthew Jamieson
Jul 26, 2007, 15:05

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West Papua: Indonesian Military Colonel Siagian, indicted for Crimes Against Humanity, rallies militias in West Papua

The Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights (IPAHR) is extremely concerned at the increasing activity of pro-Indonesian militias in West Papua.

That the regional commander Col. Burhanuddin Siagian has publicly threatened ‘separatists’ in the past few weeks in West Papua is alarming considering that he and other senior military & police are actively meeting with nationalist civilian militias.

IPAHR has received reports from our sources in West Papua of an increase in meetings by nationalist militia groups in the capital Jayapura & other provincial towns in West Papua.

A range of pro Indonesian nationalist and militia groups meet on 6 July 2007 at the Military (KOREM 172) Auditorium in Jayapura, West Papua.(i) Col. Siagian was reported to have spoken at this meeting which involved 500 people. Subsequent meetings of the militias were reported in West Papua during the past 3 weeks. (ii)

On the next day Col. Siagian was reported making public threats directed at the meeting of Dewan Adat Papua (or Customary Council of West Papua). “What is absolutely certain is that anyone who tends towards separatism will be crushed by TNI (Indonesian Military). In the interests of NKRI (Republic of Indonesia), we are not afraid of human rights. We are quite prepared to imprison anyone, or dismiss them from their posts, whenever such is in the interests of the NKRI.” (translation of Cenderwasih Post, 7/07/07).

Last month International & Indonesian human rights groups called for the removal of Col. Siagian from West Papua. Col. Siagian who commands the 172 Military District based in Jayapura has been indicted for Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor were he has never faced prosecution. (iii)

IPAHR believes the significant increase in militia related activity in West Papua is similar to what happened in Timor Leste (East Timor) before the referendum in 1999. “The reappearance in West Papua of the notorious Red and White militias with Col. Burhanuddin Siagian makes it clear that the Indonesian Government can repeat the armed violence experienced in East Timor.” said Paula Makabory, representing the Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights.

“These new reports signal that the Indonesian military & police appear to have started a program to actively promote and support militias across West Papua.” said Paula Makabory.

“What the Indonesian security forces commanders see as ‘separatism’ is West Papuan people trying to give expression to their basic Human Rights. Indonesia gives not space in West Papua for difference in political opinion and any expression of the right of self determination is severely repressed.”

“This situation cries out for direct international intervention. There must be constant access for independent international observers in West Papua. . Indonesia restricts access by international agencies and the foreign media to West Papua. The Indonesian Government executive must be convinced to withdraw its repressive security forces from West Papua.”

For further information contact:

Paula Makabory, Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights, Australia Tel +61 402547517;

Rev Socratez Yoman, President, Communion of Baptist Churches, Jayapura, West Papua Tel +62 812 4888458;

Matthew Jamieson, Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights, Australia Tel +61 418291998


(i) On 6 July 2007 a meeting of 500 people from various pro Indonesian nationalist and militia groups was organised at the Military Korem 172 Auditorium in Jayapura. Col. Burhanuddin Siagian the Commander of Kodem 172 was reported to have spoken at this meeting.

Indonesian & Papuan members of Meriah Putih (Red & White) militia attended this meeting. Indonesian organisations reported at the meeting were Pemuda Pancasila Youth (Youth following 5 basic principle of Republic of Indonesia), Pramukas (Indonesian Boy Scouts), Youth of Red and White (Youth for Red & White Colours of Indonesian flag), Panca Marga Youth (Way of five principles of Indonesia).

The Papuan groups included: Youth Guerrillas of Irian Jaya Barat, members of the Jayapura based TRIKORA Pejuang (Fighter for TRIKORA, which relates to President Sukarnos invasion strategy for control of West Papua during Dutch times) & the leadership of ‘women’s/ family’ organisation called Freedom Fighter Family of Irian Jaya Barat.

An ex OPM/TPN (Free Papua movement) guerrilla commander also attended the meeting. This OPM/TPN guerrilla had surrendered to the Indonesian and now is said to work for the Indonesian security forces. It was also reported that some individuals from groups, which purport to be OPM/TPN (Free Papua Movement) guerrillas but are backed by Indonesian military also attended the meeting.

A follow up meeting in the Jayapura region occurred on 19/07/07 in Koya Barat 35km from Jayapura town. It was reported that this meeting made the statement against the separatist movement in West Papua and committed to fight against the West Papua Freedom campaign. The meeting was attended by a range of groups including local tribal leaders, community leaders, youth leaders and leaders of a Highland community and a traditional customary organisation.

(ii) The Panca Marga Youth is also reported to have held a meeting with, Col. Siagian at military headquarters in Jayapura. Following this meeting Panca Marga Youth and Red and White militia members are said to have organised a Nusantara (Motherland) Gathering, to bring together Indonesian inhabitants living in Jayapura.

Another meeting of Red & White militia was reported in Biak on 15 July 2007. In Sorong, the Indonesian military has in the past month organised a group of 70 community leaders to do ‘survival’ training. In Timika, the regional centre servicing the giant Freeport copper & gold mine, the Red and White Militia is reported to be lead by a local man, who is a former member of Indonesia’s notorious special operations force, Kopassus. In Manokwari, Wamena & Nabire militia organisations are reported by local sources.

(iii) Col. Burhanuddin Siagian, who is the commander of the Jayapura sub-regional military command (Korem 172) in Papua, has been indicted on Crimes Against Humanity charges in East Timor (now Timor-Leste). Col Siagian, is a Kopassus trained commander.

Last month in an open letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia (see http://tapol.gn.apc.org/news/files/let070628.htm), a group of International & Indonesian organisations called for Col. Burhanuddin Siagian, to be withdrawn immediately and suspended from active duty.

Former Australian diplomat, James Dunn, who served as UN expert on crimes against humanity in East Timor in 2001-02, is reported in Canberra Times on 23 July 2007 as making the following comments about Col Siagian. “Indonesian human rights agencies are calling for the removal of a sector commander in West Papua, Colonel Burhanuddin Siagian, who has been indicted for a particularly nasty atrocity in the Maliana region in 1999. However, the fact that the TNI has ignored such indictments, and the recommendation of Indonesia's own human rights commission, is an indication of how little impact its nation's shift towards respect for human rights has had on a military which, like the KGB, saw itself as a ruthless protector of an authoritarian state.”

Further threatening statements by Col Siagian were reported in the Cenderawasih Pos on 12 May 2007. Col Siagian threatened to destroy anyone who betrays Indonesia: “If I meet anyone who has enjoyed the facilities that belong to the state, but who still betrays the nation, I honestly will destroy him”. This statement was reportedly made in response to demands by students for a review of the 1969 Act of Free Choice and for a new referendum on self-determination.

These threats to Papuan activists and Tribal Leaders echoes similar statements allegedly made by Col. Siagian when he was commander of the Bobonaro Military Command (Kodim 1636), Maliana in East Timor in 1999. Those statements in 1999 appear to have led directly to the deaths of a number of Timorese civilians.

According to the indictments issued by the Special Panel for Serious Crimes of Dili District Court on 3 February 2003 (‘the Cailaco indictment) and 10 July 2003 (‘the Maliana indictment’), Col Siagian made public speeches threatening to kill supporters of Timor-Leste’s independence and was responsible for the death of seven men in April 1999. Col. Siagian is charged with individual responsibility and command responsibility for the following crimes against humanity: torture; murder; persecution; and deportation or forcible transfer of a civilian population. He is also considered to be responsible for the creation of the Bobonaro militia system that became one of the most repressive in the whole of East Timor. See indictments at: http://jsmp.minihub.org/indictmentspdf/Cailacoindnannexeng07feb03) & http://jsmp.minihub.org/indictmentspdf/Maliana_Burhanuddin22_7_03.pdf).

Matthew Jamieson

Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights

PO box 1805, Byron bay NSW 2481 Australia


tel +61(0) 418291998



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