EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The struggle over land
and natural resource rights is a key aspect of the conflict in Papua, formerly
known as Irian Jaya, that pits the Indonesian state against an independence
movement supported by most of the indigenous population. It is thought to have
cost many thousands of lives since the 1960s, mostly Papuan civilians killed by
the security forces. Among the most recent victims were three employees of the
giant mining company, PT Freeport Indonesia, killed in a well-planned attack on
31 August 2002.
The conflict is characterised by sporadic violent clashes
between security forces and scattered guerrillas of the Free Papua Movement
(OPM) and by the largely peaceful independence campaign of the Presidium of the
Papuan Council, an umbrella group regarded, in a society of great ethnic and
linguistic diversity, as the most influential voice of indigenous aspirations.
Its starting point is the view that Indonesia’s 1969 annexation was not
legitimate in the eyes of most Papuans.
The murder of Presidium chairman Theys Eluay by Indonesian
soldiers in November 2001 has sparked fears within Papua of an impending
crackdown on the independence movement, though another theory rests on alleged
rivalry between retired generals over logging. There are fears that the
presence of Laskar Jihad, a radical Islamic organisation with a history of
communal violence, could exacerbate deep tensions between indigenous Papuans
and the many Indonesian settlers. It seems likely that the conflict could
escalate, especially if the military adopts the hardline approach it takes in
Indonesia has attempted to end the conflict by offering
special autonomy to Papua, as in Aceh. The original draft of the law, created
by members of Papua’s educated elite, was watered down in Jakarta to produce a
document short of the aspirations of even the most conciliatory Papuans. It
does offer some potentially important concessions, notably returning more
natural resource wealth to the province and giving a greater (but limited) role
to Papuan adat (customary law). However, implementation has been left to an
inefficient, sometimes corrupt bureaucracy, and most Papuans appear to reject
it on principle. The success of special autonomy is, therefore, open to
Injustices in the management of natural resources under
Indonesian rule have contributed significantly to the conflict. The state has
often given concessions to resource companies in disregard of the customary
rights of indigenous Papuan communities, while troops and police guarding these
concessions have frequently committed murders and other human rights abuses
against civilians. Provisions in the special autonomy law require resource
companies to pay greater heed to adat claims to land ownership, but they do not
apply retroactively to the many companies already in Papua.
Indonesian security forces have a financial interest in
resource extraction in Papua, through direct involvement in logging and other
activities and protection fees paid by resource companies. Numerous serving and
retired officers, senior state officials and others close to government are
thought to have logging concessions or other business interests. Alongside the
substantial tax and royalties accrued by the state, these interests are a
powerful reason for the Indonesian state and its agencies to keep control of
The resource industry with the widest geographical impact in
Papua is the logging industry, whose concessions cover nearly a third of the
province. ICG research in Papua, notably the western Sorong region, suggests
widespread abuses by logging companies which exploit and deceive local people,
pay little or no heed to environmental sustainability and rely on the military
and police to intimidate villagers who protest.
It seems that many Papuans are not opposed to logging or
other resource extraction in itself, but resent the way that they are often
treated by companies. These tensions, fused with the independence struggle,
have led to bloodshed in some places.
As in other parts of Indonesia, autonomy has led to a shift
within the logging industry. Jakarta’s dominance over logging concessions has
been challenged since 1998 by local timber elites who use new regulations to
issue many small-scale licenses, ostensibly to benefit local people but usually
to the profit of timber companies from Indonesia or other Asian countries. The
members of these elites can include civil servants, military and police
officers and Papuan community leaders. There has also been an upsurge in
illegal logging in western Papua, apparently organised or facilitated by these
same local elites.
The other resource industry covered by this report is
mining. The Freeport copper and gold mine is the most controversial foreign
mining operation in Indonesia, largely because of historical entanglement with
Soeharto-era elites and military. The mine has long been accused of
dispossessing locals and colluding in human rights abuses by its military
guards. It has made increasing efforts since the 1990s to win legitimacy with a
Papuan community swelled by immigrants drawn to the mine. These include much development
spending but have themselves caused social disruption. Relations remain
problematic between the company, its guards and an ethnically diverse
A new investment in natural gas, Tangguh LNG, is an attempt
to extract natural resources without the conflicts associated with Freeport and
the logging industry. The driving force, the multinational BP, has made
significant efforts to win local support. This is highly complex because of the
numerous, sometimes clashing interests involved, which include the company, the
Indonesian state and its oil company, Pertamina, local and regional government,
local communities, non-governmental organisations and security forces.
It is too early to say if BP will succeed, or even to define
success. The project is seen as a test for a more humane approach to resource
extraction. A significant risk is that security forces will try to involve
themselves closely in Tangguh LNG, creating potential for human rights abuses
and criminality that have afflicted other resource projects.
Should it succeed, BP’s approach will be a step forward.
Nonetheless, the violent conflict seems likely to continue for some time. The
onus should be on resource companies, Indonesian and foreign, to demonstrate
that their presence will not make a bad situation worse. Promises of community
development will not compensate if locals do not feel they have meaningful
influence over companies, if inevitable social and environmental disruption is
not well-managed and if the security forces role cannot be curtailed.
autonomy offers provincial government opportunity to create better oversight of
resource companies, for example through independent commissions to vet
investments and investigate complaints. The regulatory and licensing regime for
logging should be overhauled to make it more just and sustainable, possibly
including a commercial logging ban until reform has taken place. But the
generally poor record of resource investment in Papua will not improve until
two interlinked and very difficult issues are tackled: the needs to give
meaningful autonomy and a greater sense of justice to indigenous Papuans, and
to tackle the behaviour and finances of the Indonesian security forces.
To Indonesian government authorities:
1. To the greatest extent possible, security disturbances in
Papua should be treated as a law enforcement problem to be handled by police,
not military, and without excessive physical force.
2. In response to the security problems posed by Lasker Jihad,
Papua’s governor should:
a. take the lead in drawing up a security plan for Fakfak,
Sorong and Manokwari districts and other areas where it is present;
b. work with district officials and religious leaders to
c. respond immediately to communal incitement by any medium;
d. order the arrest of anyone carrying unauthorised weapons;
e. caution district and subdistrict officials against giving
permission to Laskar Jihad to initiate its activities in their areas.
3. The provincial government should work with the appropriate
central government agencies to set up a commission, recruited from influential
and credible people, to receive and investigate complaints of human rights
violations practised or colluded in by resource companies. Evidence that a
company has knowingly engaged or colluded in such violations should be grounds
for revoking its operating license.
4. The provincial government should work with the relevant
national agencies and foreign donors to restrict and gradually end the role of
military-linked businesses and contracting companies in the extraction of
natural resources, because it will be easier to address security issues if they
are delinked from economic interests.
5. The provincial government should consider issuing a
regulation to halt commercial logging until a forestry policy can be prepared
that gives a meaningful role to customary (adat) bodies, emphasises
sustainability, and includes a review of licensing mechanisms that genuinely
involves local communities, not only well-placed individuals.
6. The provincial government should set up a board to assess
all proposals for investment and ensure that they are socially and
environmentally responsible and include meaningful prior consultation with
affected communities. The board should include representatives of civil society,
chosen by the widest possible consultation, as well as non-Papuan experts, have
power to recommend against a particular investment, and have its findings
published in local media.
7. The national government and the Indonesian navy should
rigorously enforce the log export ban and continue efforts to detain cargo
ships that export timber from Papua. Local and international NGOs should
support donor assistance for this effort.
To foreign governments and donor agencies:
8. Donor governments should make clear their concern about the
lack of independence of the bodies investigating the murder of Theys Eluay and
urge immediate creation of a more credible and experienced team with full
access to military officers based in Jakarta and Papua and any other
potentially relevant witnesses or sources of information, including the files
and personnel of the Hanurata and Djajanti companies.
9. Donor governments should allocate funds for more frequent
embassy visits to Papua and stress to Indonesian counterparts that criminal behaviour
by security forces, including involvement in illegal resource extraction and/or
tolerance for groups inciting communal violence, could erode international
support for Indonesian rule over Papua.
10. Donor agencies should offer help to civil society groups in
different parts of Papua to network with each other and monitor resource
extraction, especially logging.
To resource companies:
11. Consider carefully whether a given investment is likely to
exacerbate the conflict and negate its benefits for Papuans. In such cases, the
investment should be postponed.
12. As far as possible, keep the Indonesian military and police
away from projects.
13. Consultations with local communities well in advance of
construction or operations, allowing time to build trust and recognising that
government officials, NGOs and Indonesian business partners do not necessarily
speak for local people.
14. Ensure that community relations staff with local knowledge
are integrated into the project from the start, work closely with technical and
commercial staff and have similar status. Companies should be aware of the risk
that relations with local people could be damaged by cultural misunderstandings
or prejudice of company staff or agents.
15. Avoid promises to local communities that cannot be promptly
Jakarta/Brussels, 13 September 2002