PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 21/16/99
UA 44/99 Fear for safety / Threats and intimidation 9 March 1999
Workers at ELS-HAM, a local human rights organization
Amnesty International is concerned by recent threats and intimidation against
human rights defenders and against individuals and groups in the province of
Irian Jaya who are supporters of opening dialogue (referred to as the “National
Dialogue”) with the government concerning the political future of the province.
Those targeted so far were part of a delegation who met with President Habibie
in February 1999, after some months of trying, in order to start talks on the
subject. Those also at risk are supporters, or those perceived to be supporters,
of efforts to open the debate.
The delegation, made up of around 100 people from Irian Jaya, travelled to
Jakarta, the capital, to discuss issues of greater autonomy and independence
for the province. The delegation consisted of government officials, religious
and tribal leaders and representatives from non-governmental organizations.
On 9 March, Hermanus Wayoi, who lives in Jayapura, the capital of Irian Jaya,
had the windows of both his house and his car parked outside smashed in by
a couple of men. A note was left in the car which said “you people think that
what you are doing is the best thing for the people of Papua”.
Later a rock was thrown into the office of the Forum Rekonsiliasi Rakyat Irian
(Foreri), Forum for Reconciliation of the People of Irian, located at the offices
of the non-governmental organization the Human Rights Study and Advocacy
Foundation for Irian Jaya (ELS-HAM). Attached to the rock was a message saying
“Why didn’t you invite us to the dialogue, you think you yourselves can become
the leaders of the OPM”, referring to the armed separatist group, Organisasi
Papua Merkdeka (OMP), the Free Papua Organization.
At 3am, a group of people arrived outside the home of the director of ELS-HAM,
Yohanis Bonay, demanding he come out and making abusive comments.
At around 6 am, a bottle was left outside the home of Don Flassy, a prominent
leader of the movement for the “National Dialogue”, containing a similar message
to that above. Don Flassy, who was arrested last year but later released still
faces charges, with five others, of rebellion.
The opposition movement to Indonesian rule of Irian Jaya developed following
the transfer in 1963 of de facto authority over the province from the Netherlands
to Indonesia and a subsequent plebiscite in 1969, which resulted in a vote
for integration. The OPM is the most prominent group advocating independence
for Irian Jaya, or West Papua as it is known to local people. Although the
OPM advocates armed struggle many supporters of independence have employed
peaceful means. This has included demonstrations, flag-raising ceremonies,
political discussion groups and appeals to the UN and other groups. Since
President Habibie came to power in May 1998, there have been growing demands
from the province for a review of its political status and for local grievances
to be addressed.