THEYS' MURDER IN PAPUA: DIAL M FOR MONEY

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By I.G.G. Maha Adi

JAYAPURA, Papua, Indonesia (April 9-15, 2002 – Tempo Magazine/Kabar-Irian)--- Papua's desire for independence is still generally cited as the motive behind Theys Eluay's murder. But money also looks more and more like a possible alternative.

In Jayapura many people do not wish to believe that a man like Theys Eluay could be killed over money. Just listen to the story of Thaha Alhamid, secretary-general of the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP), as recounted to TEMPO at his home. On November 7, a guest came to see him who gave his name as Doni Hutabarat, from Kopassus Unit X Tribuana, acting almost like an old friend. He said he wanted to invite Thaha to a reception for Heroes' Day at Hamadi, the Kopassus headquarters, around three kilometers 1.8 miles) from Jayapura. Heroes' Day, November 10, was a major incident during Indonesia's war of independence.

Was Thaha ready to go? In fact, not only did his wife forbid Doni from entering the house, but actually threw him out. The entire family felt uncomfortable because they were convinced Doni's underlings had been watching them for two weeks. On one occasion, two people had forced their way into Thaha's car.

"They were widening a net," said the PDP secretary general.

A similar invitation went out to another prominent PDP member, Willy Mandowen. As it happens, Theys went alone to the event and was killed after it. But it could be that the target that night was not only Theys, but also several of PDP's top figures.

We know how the story ended. That evening Theys went on his own, and was found murdered the next day. Thaha said it was hard to imagine that the motive could be anything rather than politics in this case. President Megawati had made a speech on the issue of separatism in Papua, and she had met with the head of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) Hendropriyono and political and security coordinating minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It was seen by Thaha as a plan to finish off the Papuan independence movement.

Thaha was not the only one who drew that kind of conclusion. Several activists at Els-Ham Papua, the "Institute of Study and Advocacy of Human Rights, have stubbornly insisted that politics was the one and only reason behind the killing of Theys. Rumors on the issue of money and the involvement of retired generals, for Els-Ham, have only been fostered deliberately to divert attention.

"Another motive was used so that the state institutions were not involved," said Sam Rumbrar of Els-Ham.

In their eyes, Theys was finished off systematically and with the active involvement of state institutions. They guessed Lieutenant Colonel Hartono and his underlings would be blamed for the "mistake," as they "misinterpreted" the order of their superiors, as Army Chief of Staff General Endriartono Sutarto has said.

Els-Ham says it has not investigated the possible issue of money because they could not get full data on the matter. They did agree, however, that money in the PDP was a mysterious thing.

The most obvious indication was the metallic blue Toyota Kijang car used by Theys, a gift from the timber firm PT Djajanti. The presidium leaders went overseas several times, to the United States and Australia, and they often went back and forth between Jakarta and Papua. The rumor was that the senior PDP officials had received money from those who did not want their "business" in Papua to be disturbed.

There is also an adat council linked to PDP which has the right to determine whether or not a project can go ahead. The contract for investment may well have been signed with the central government, but as Thaha relates, the tribes in the affected area will oppose it if the company is unwilling to reach a compromise with their wishes. And every head of an adat region has the right to sign his own agreements with investors, plus the right to receive compensation directly, whether financial or not.

BP Indonesia, for example, has a gas field in the Bintuni Gulf, near Sorong. Six tribes live in the affected area, who are all involved with the PDP. Every time a problem emerged in its area of operation, BP brought leaders of the presidium to solve the matter. What did they get in return? Several NGO activists in Papua say that BP has agreed on compensation with the adat community in Bintuni, with the blessing of Yorrys Raweyai and Willy Mandowen, as a representative of the adat body.

However, Thaha denied this. The adat council was autonomous and not appointed by the presidium. He did not rule out that there might be companies who gave financial compensation to the communities.

"It depends on the agreement with the investor," he said.

Satya Wirayudha, a BP vice president for community relations, told TEMPO no money had gone to anyone in the area of his operation. What had happened, he said, was just an agreement with the community about programs like clean water and electricity. He admitted, however, that several PDP figures had been invited to visit BP's headquarters in London.

BP can talk like that, but Thaha admits he and the community have never trusted promises of community development programs from investors.

"We want things which are concrete," he said.

Another rumor involves PT Freeport Indonesia's commitment to give aid of around Rp 60 billion (US$ 6,293,002) to the struggle of the Papuan people. It was because of a squabble over the money, writes the portal koridor.com, that Theys met his end. Several activists at Els-Ham said they believed there was a link between the commitment and Theys' death. The PDP chairman came to Timika several times, a region where Freeport operates. Several days before the killing he met several Papuan officials in the town. Thom Beanal, another PDP chairman and a native of the Timika region, is also a commissioner at the gold and copper mine. What did they talk about? Many people think it was about the plans to use that money.

Now listen to what Sidharta Moersjid said. The senior manager of public relations at PT Freeport Indonesia said that his company was a contractor for the Indonesian government. That means that Freeport followed the rules of the central government, including on issuing money to the community. The firm has already given millions of US dollars through the Irian Jaya Development Institution.

"I think there was no help to PDP," said Sidharta.

Now PDP is moving forward. On February 25-28, they held an adat community meeting which put forward a manifesto on the basic rights of the Papuan people. The six-point manifesto clearly stated that the natural resources in Papua must be used for the political aspirations of the Papuan people. That means, all must support the aspiration "M," a codeword for "Merdeka" -- independence.

With the manifesto, the adat council gave each of its subsidiary branches all over Papua the right to negotiate directly with foreign investors or on old issues about compensation for the community.

Well, frankly with the amount of money involved, it was difficult to ignore it as a potential motive for Theys' killing. There are two big Ms that are circulating in Papua: M for "Merdeka" and M for "money." And we know, people will be prepared to kill for one or the other of them.

See now senior officials in PDP have gone back and forth to various countries and back and forth between Papua and Jakarta.

Clearly all that required no small sum of money. Let alone funding for this and that congress and meeting. The strange thing is that PDP itself, as Thaha admits, does not have a penny. So where did the money come from?

Thaha says it all came from friends and donors, without wishing to give details about who exactly they were. For official events like the Papua People's Congress of 2000, the costs were requested from official sources like ex-president Abdurrahman Wahid, who gave around Rp1 billion (US$ 104,883). Also when Theys was ill in Jakarta, the then president took money to treat him from the presidential aid funds. But for other activists whose names have appeared in the mass media, who paid the bills?

The one name that kept coming up in TEMPO's research as a "donor" was Yorrys Raweyai, appointed by Theys as the chairman of the Papuan Community Presidium in Jakarta. No wonder. As several journalists in Jayapura recounted, every time Theys went somewhere with Yorrys, he came back like Santa Claus, handing out money left right and center. Yorrys told TEMPO he only paid for Theys' food if he came to Jakarta.

"If he was abroad, where did I get the money from?" he said.

He also admitted he had no idea from where Theys and other senior officials got their traveling expenses and so on.

Chairman of the National Investigation Commission, Koesparmono Irsan, says that all matters -- politics, economics and matters of women -- could be motives for the killing.

"But the issue of money is still very brief," he said.

Koesparmono only said that all motives would be looked into and the most likely one would be sought out.

On the issue of the suspected killers, it was almost certainly Kopassus soldiers, as the central commander of the TNI's military police, Major General Sulaiman Ahmad Bakri, told journalists.

But it appears the motive is very sensitive and troubling. Just imagine if politics were cited as the motive. Then the next question would be which of the officials and the institutions would be accused? And if it is treated as a normal criminal case, people will curl up their lips in disbelief.

It is not impossible that there are businessmen out there who Theys had disappointed, who then asked the soldiers to kill him?

The businessmen in question would have to be civilians with strong influence on the senior military officials or Kopassus in Jakarta. Or perhaps the businessman might himself be a former member of Kopassus. Another motive might be trading of money and influence within the PDP, with the hands of Kopassus "loaned" to finish Theys off.

All of it remains possible, at least.

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