By Make West Papua Safe, December 30, 2020
To supporters of peace in West Papua
We are writing to ask for your solidarity with us in resisting the establishment of a new military base, KODIM 1810, in Tambrauw, West Papua.
The Tambrauw Youth Intellectual Forum for Peace (FIMTCD) is an advocacy group that works on issues concerning development, environment, investment and military violence. FIMTCD was formed in April 2020 to address the establishment of KODIM 1810 in Tambrauw, West Papua, Indonesia. FIMTCD consists of hundreds of facilitators and students from the Tambrauw region.
FIMTCD is working in coalition with indigenous people, youth, students and women’s groups to resist the establishment of KODIM 1810 by TNI and the Government in Tambrauw. We have been protesting the establishment of a KODIM in Tambrauw since planning began in 2019.
Through this letter, we hope to connect with you, your network partners, human rights groups and other civil society groups in your respective countries. We are seeking solidarity with all who are concerned about military violence, civil liberties, freedom, peace, saving forests and the environment, investment, war equipment / defence equipment and indigenous peoples’ rights.
Even though we have rejected the establishment of the Tambrauw KODIM and there is no agreement with local people, the TNI unilaterally conducted the inauguration of the KODIM 1810 Tambrauw Military Command on December 14 2020 in Sorong.
We are now asking our international allies to join us in advocating for the cancellation of KODIM 1810 Tambrauw in West Papua Province by taking the following solidarity actions:
- Writing directly to the Government of Indonesia and the TNI Commander, urging them to cancel the construction of KODIM 1810 in Tambrauw, West Papua;
- Encourage your government to write to the Government of Indonesia and the TNI to cancel the construction of KODIM 1810 in Tambrauw, West Papua;
- Build international solidarity; facilitate networks of civil society groups in your country or other countries to also advocate for the cancellation of KODIM 1810 in Tambrauw;
- Carry out any other actions within your capacity which will have the effect of terminating the construction of KODIM 1810 in Tambrauw.
The background of our resistance to KODIM 1810 and our reasons for rejecting the establishment of new military bases in Tambrauw are summarised below.
- We suspect that there are investment interests behind the construction of KODIM Tambrauw. Tambrauw Regency is known to have very high gold reserves and several other types of minerals. Several studies have been carried out in previous years by PT Akram and also by a research team from PT Freeport. The construction of the Tambrauw Kodim is one of the military institutions built in Tambrauw. We note that several years before TN AD built a KODIM in Tambrauw, the Army and Navy units continuously approached Tambrauw residents asking for approval and release of land for a Military Base. These efforts peaked in 2017, but the TNI has made approaches to citizens over several years. As for natural resource mapping, in 2016 TNI from the Special Forces Command (KOPASSUS) collaborated with the Indonesian Research Institute (LIPI) to conduct research on biodiversity in Tambrauw. This research was called the Widya Nusantara Expeditions (E_Win).
- In 2019 a Tambrauw Provisional KODIM was established in preparation for the inauguration of the official KODIM 1810. By the end of 2019 the Tambraw Provisional KODIM was operational and had mobilized many TNI troops to Tambrauw. The Provisional KODIM used the Sausapor Tambrauw District Health Center Old Building as a barracks for its personnel. Several months later the Tambrauw Government donated the Tambrauw Transportation Service Building to the Provisional KODIM to become the KODIM Office. TNI plans to build KODIM 1810 in the Sausapor area using 5 hectares of community land. They will also build 6 new KORAMIL [sub-district level military bases] in six districts in Tambrauw. Customary land rights holders have not been consulted and have not consented to this use of their land by TNI.
- In April 2020, the residents of Sausapor learnt that in May 2020 there would be an inauguration of KODIM 1810 in Tambrauw. Abun [First Nations] customary land rights holders held a meeting and on April 23 2020 sent a letter objecting to the inauguration. They requested that TNI and the Tambrauw Government postpone the inauguration and conduct face-to-face meetings with residents to hear their perspectives. This letter was sent to the overall TNI Commander, the West Papua Provincial Commander, the Regional Military Commander of 181 PVP / Sorong and the Regional Government.
- During April- May 2020 Tambrauw students in Jayapura, Yogya, Manado, Makassar, Semarang and Jakarta staged protests against the construction of the KODIM in Tambrauw on the basis that a military base is not one of the urgent needs of the Tambrauw community. Tambrauw residents are still traumatised by past military violence, such as the ABRI operations of the 1960s – 1970s. The presence of TNI will bring new violence to Tambrauw. The students’ opposition has been conveyed to the Tambrauw Regional Government. Villagers in Tambrauw have represented their opposition to the military base by taking photos with a poster that says ’Reject KODIM in Tambrauw’ and related messages. These have been widely publicized on each person’s social media pages.
- On 27 July 2020 students and residents of the Fef District of Tambrauw took action against the construction of the KODIM at the Tambrauw DPR [Regional Government] Office. The protest group met with the Chairperson of the Tambrauw DPR. Students stated that they rejected the construction of the KODIM and urged the DPR to facilitate an Indigenous Peoples Consultation to discuss the development of a KODIM in Tambrauw. The students encouraged the government to focus development plans on people’s welfare, rather than prioritizing military bases.
- After the Provisional KODIM for Tambrauw was instated, KORAMIL [district military posts] were constructed in several districts including Kwoor, Fef, Miyah, Yembun and Azes. Already there have been several cases of military violence against the Tambrauw community. Cases of military violence include: violence against Alex Yapen, a resident of Werur Village on July 12, 2020, verbal violence (intimidation) against three Werbes Village residents namely Maklon Yeblo, Selwanus Yeblo and Abraham Yekwam on July 25, 2020, violence against 4 residents of Kosyefo Village: Neles Yenjau, Karlos Yeror, Harun Yewen and Piter Yenggren in Kwor on July 28, 2020 , violence against 2 residents of Kasi District: Soleman Kasi and Henky Mandacan on 29 July 2020 in Kasi District and the most recent case was TNI violence against 4 residents of Syubun Village: Timo Yekwam, Markus Yekwam, Albertus Yekwam and Wilem Yekwam on 06 December 2020.
- There has been no meeting between the Tambrauw Government and the indigenous people to hear the perspectives of the Abun tribe and customary rights holders, nor has there been an opportunity for students to be heard. There needs to be a forum for the community to discuss and make decisions about the construction of a KODIM in Tambrauw;
- The Tambrauw Indigenous Community, consisting of 4 indigenous tribes, has not yet given an official decision, through a customary deliberation undertaken by all the Tambrauw indigenous people, regarding the construction of the KODIM. Customary rights holders have yet to give consent to the use of their land to build the KODIM 1810 Tambrauw Command Headquarters. The customary landowners have explicitly stated that they have not released their land to be used to build the KODIM, and the land is still under their control.
- The construction of a KODIM in Tambrauw does nothing to meet the community’s needs. There are many issues that should be a higher priority for government development, for example education, health, community economy (micro), and the construction of public facilities such as village roads, electricity, cellular telephone networks, the Internet and the improvement of other work skills. Currently there are many schools and hospitals in various villages in the coastal areas and inland areas of Tambrauw which lack of teachers, medical personnel and doctors. Many villages are not yet connected to roads or bridges and have no electricity and communication networks. There are still many people who die due to untreated illnesses and there are still many school-age children who do not attend school or drop out of school.
- Tambrauw is a safe civilian area. There are no ‘enemies of the State’ in Tambrauw and residents live in safety and peace. There has never been an armed resistance, no armed groups nor any major conflicts that disturbed the security of the State in Tambrauw. Most Tambrauw people are indigenous people. About 90 percent of the residents are traditional farmers, and the remaining 10 percent are traditional fishermen and civil servants. The construction of a KODIM in Tambrauw will not have any bearing on the main duties and functions of the TNI as mandated by the TNI Law, because Tambrauw is not a war zone nor is it a border area which are the two task areas of TNI;
- TNI Law Number 34 of 2004 stipulates that TNI is a state defence tool, tasked with protecting the sovereignty of the State. The main duties of TNI are in fact in two areas, war zones and the state border area, not in the civilian arena carrying out development work and security. The construction of a KODIM in Tambrauw does not relate to the main duties and functions of TNI as mandated by law. TNI’s two areas of work are war zones and border regions; Tambrauw is neither.
- Regional Government Law 23/2014 and Police Law 02/2002 stipulate that development is the main task of the regional government, and security is the main task of POLRI.
- The construction of KODIM 1810 in Tambrauw has not been carried out in accordance with the rule of law. TNI’s actions have been well outside the main duties and functions of TNI, and TNI has committed a lot of violence against Tambrauw residents, as described in point 6. The construction of KODIM 1810 and the addition of a large number of personnel will result in increased violence against Tambrauw residents.
We hope you can work with us on this issue and that our combined efforts will produce good results.
Solidarity Tambrauw LINKS
Make West Papua Safe
Contact President Joko Widodo:
Tel +62 812 2600 960
Tel +62 21 38998080
Contact Ministry of Defence:
Tel +62 21 3840889 & +62 21 3828500
Message any Indonesian government department or minister: