Anyone who Resists History will be Crushed by History

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Jayapura, Irian Jaya July 24, 1998

The political and social developments that have unfolded in Irian Jaya since the downfall of former President Suharto’s 32-year old New Order regime are the result of the moral demands expressed by Indonesia’s middle classes led by students in all parts of the country.

This eruption of discontent gave birth to an era of reform that has given the people in Irian Jaya a window of opportunity to openly and peacefully present their demands to the government. This has taken the form of actions by students, young people and people from all walks of life in Irian Jaya well as in the island of Java.

These actions have pressed for reform in many fields, in particular, respect for human rights. They have their origin in the genuine desires of society, based on the hope that the government will enter into open and peaceful dialogue about the people’s aspirations, within the context of the Republic of Indonesia.

A crucial question needs to be raised: Why is it that the people of Irian Jaya must again bring into question the political status of Irian Jaya within the Republic even though PEPERA, the Act of Free Choice, which was held in 1969, resulted in the territory being integrated as part of the Motherland?

The fact is that national development during the past 32 years in Irian Jaya has proven that the centralized system of government which has been justified on the grounds of preserving national unity has led to many deaths and to the destruction of property.

Many political and legalistic maneuver have led to shootings, torture, intimidation, and even the murder of people in Irian Jaya. All this has given birth to a sense of insecurity and bitterness among the people, political wounds that have passed down from generation to generation.

While all this has been going on, people in the army have got medals in recognition of promotion, thanks to their achievements in murdering their compatriots in Irian Jaya.

Wittingly or unwittingly, the regional Legislative Assembly (DPRD) has allowed itself to be manipulated into closing its ears to the genuine aspirations of the community. These have been suppressed for so long that demonstrations erupted from July 1-7, 1998 in a number of places including Jayapura, Sorong, Manokwari, Biak, and Wamena.

The violence and shootings committed by the Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) in response to these demonstrations has shattered the credibility of the DPRD in the eyes of the people. It has also shown that the security approach will never resolve the problem of Irian Jaya’s political status nor will it heal the political wounds.

Could it be that the Indonesian government is drawn to Irian Jaya not by its people but by it natural resources? The legislative and executive bodies have proven incapable of responding to the genuine aspirations of the people within the context of the Republic of Indonesia.

This has prompted the Church, traditional leaders, women’s leaders, students, and youth leaders to set up a forum called Forum for the Reconciliation of Irian Jaya Society, to be known as FORERI.

Set up on 24 July in Jayapura, FORERI is an independent organization whose purpose is to monitor, respond, and channel the genuine aspirations of the people of Irian Jaya to the regional government, the central government, and other authorities.

FORERI is acutely aware that it is virtually impossible for society to be manipulated by certain groups, none of the decisions taken by the government will resolve the social and political problems confronting Irian Jaya.

Based on its observation of developments in the wake of the events of July 1, 1998 and backed up by data that has been gathered, FORERI has come to the conclusion, reached in absolute honesty and good faith that what people in Irian Jaya want in essence is THE OPPORTUNITY TO HANDLE THEIR OWN AFFAIRS, that is to say FREEDOM!

FORERI is also conscious of the fact that this basic aspiration, as expressed here in Irian Jaya and in Jakarta has taken several forms:



During the course of recent Indonesian history, the question of the political status of Irian Jaya has been discussed on at least three occasions. This means that the question now confronting society is nothing new, it is not a taboo that cannot be discussed.

The first time the question was debated was between Bung Karno and Bung Hatta (Sukarno and Hatta, who became Indonesia’s first president and vice-president) at a meeting of the Committee to Prepare Indonesian Independence which discussed the territory to be included in the Republic of Indonesia.

Bung Hatta was against the inclusion of the Papuans who are Melanesian within the Republic of Indonesia. It was decided at that meeting that West Papua, which later became known as Irian Jaya, would be included within the territory of the Republic of Indonesia despite the fact that no Papuans (Irianese) attended the meeting. (See Report of the Meeting of the Committee to Prepare Indonesian Independence held on May 29, 1945, and August 19, as recorded by Saafroedin Bahar and colleagues, Jakarta 1992.)

The second occasion was in New York at meetings which drew up the New York Agreement (the Bunker Plan). Papuans were present at these meeting in both the Indonesian and Dutch delegations but they were silenced and not given the opportunity to express an opinion. They were treated as if they were statues!

The third occasion was the so-called PEPERA or Act of Free Choice which was held in 1969 as required by the New York Agreement. Unlike the previous occasions, the Irianese were given the chance to determine the will of the people. But what in fact happened was high-level manipulation.

The principle of one man one vote was replaced by 1,025 people who had been hand picked by the Indonesian government. International political observers have concluded that the act of free choice was turned into an act of no choice.

All Irianese were witnesses to the incomprehensible injustices, deception, and manipulations of the Indonesian government although they were powerless to do anything about it. All resistance at the time was met with the force of arms. Killings occurred everywhere. No wonder that the desire for independence from Indonesia was once again firmly embedded in the hearts of the people.



Quite apart from whether or not one agrees with the way the Irianese were treated during the course of the political events described above, the Irianese have without realizing it become citizens of the Republic of Indonesia for the past 32 years.

A careful investigation of their experiences during that time will show the true meaning of the independence that was offered them by the Republic. Being a citizen has not meant enjoying the protection and prosperity promised.

Development has not involved efforts to improve the welfare of the people. Instead, they have been subjected to the same economic practices of the Dutch colonial era ,with interest focused primarily on the rich natural resources of Irian Jaya, the minerals, forests, marine resources, or the ancestral lands of the people, which they were forced to abandon in the interest of development, all of which has resulted in their own impoverishment.

The sense that the development undertaken was nothing other than a form of colonialism has been further reinforced by the perpetration of other human rights abuses as evidenced in the killings, shootings, torture, the raping of wives and young girls, as well as the evaporation of their civil and political rights.

Still worse, the dignity and respect of society has been trampled underfoot by the state system implemented up to the present. There have been numerous cases of killings and torture suffered by the people of Irian Jaya: Manokwari (1965), Wamena (1977), Biak (in the 1980s and in 1998), Sarmi (1992); the human rights abuses in Timika (1995), and in Bella, Alam, Jila and Mapnduma (1998), Sorong (1998),and many other cases that have not yet been brought to light.



Taking into account the aspirations of the people of Irian Jaya as described above and drawing on other supporting evidence FORERI makes the following demands:

The government should provide the broadest possible opportunity for the people of Irian Jaya to discuss openly and peacefully their genuine desire to handle their own affairs, either as an independent state, as an autonomous region or within a federal state, and it should exercise wisdom in trying to understand WHY these aspirations have emerged.

Nothing will be solved by using the force of arms as has been practiced by the armed forces up to now in order to conceal the weakness of the government’s position.

FORERI proposes that the following strategic measures should be taken in the spirit of national reform:

A. The government should refrain from taking any unilateral decision to offer autonomy to Irian Jaya. An independent study should be undertaken to ascertain the reasons for the emergence of the many demands that have emerged for the people to handle their own affairs.

B. The government should enter into open, honest and democratic dialogue, and based on the principle of equality between the protagonists. In response to the genuine aspirations of the people, it is absolutely essential that there should be a test of the opinion of the people with regard to the status of the territory of Irian Jaya.

C. The armed forces should exercise restrain and avoid the use of force while at the same time improving its own performance so as to ensure that its presence is not intimidatory.

D. Political intrigues by certain circles instigating protests and counter-protests along religious or ethnic lines (SARA) should be halted so as to avoid causing splits that threaten the unity of the people of Irian Jaya.

E. The regional mass media, in particular the regional press, should support the reform movement. It should stop being discriminatory in the way it reports the aspirations within society and should reflect these aspirations so as to ensure that they evoke response from the public.

F. The Indonesian government should open itself to the relevant international and national institutions in order to pursue humanitarian endeavors and investigate all allegations of the violation of human rights throughout the time Irian Jaya has been integrated into Indonesia.

G. Irian Jaya's designation as a Military Operational District (DOM) should be lifted and all troops should be withdrawn from the Central Highlands which is still being treated as a DOM.

H. Investigate and prosecute those responsible for violations of Human Rights, in particular the following cases: Wamena (1977), Timika (1995), Bella, Alama, Jila and Mapnduma (1998), Biak (1998), Wamena and Sorong (1998) as well as other cases that have not yet been brought to light.

I. Release all political prisoners and detainees taken into custody in connection with the pro-independence actions that took place from 1 until 7 July 1998. In the case of those who are formally charged, the presumption of innocence should be firmly upheld so as to avoid all arbitrary detentions.

FORERI is seeking hereby to put forward the heartfelt wishes of the people of Irian Jaya, in the hope that the central and regional governments will listen, pay attention to, weigh up objectively and take wise and just decisions.


Signed by: The Rev. Herman Saud, Mth, Chair of the GKI Synode in Irian Jaya Dr. Leo Laba Ladjar, OFM, the Bishop of Jayapura The Rev. Dr. Benny Giay, on behalf of the Irian Jaya regional chair of the GKII Theys H. Eluay, Traditional Leader Tom Beanal, Traditional Leader Selviana Sanggenafa, SH, Women's Group Yusan Yeblo, Women's Group Gerson Abrauw, Student Maria Korano, Student Marthinus Werimon, Student

Forwarded by: Waruno Mahdi Tel: +49 30 8413-5404 Faradayweg 4-6 Fax: +49 30 8413-3155 14195 Berlin E-Mail: Germany WWW:

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