December 1st 2001

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Articles from this issue:

Cover Story: Afghanistan: After the fall of the Taliban - the tasks ahead

Editorial: Policies for John HowardÂ’s agenda

Canberra Observed: Election outcome - reality and dreamland

Irian Jaya: Was Jakarta involved in West Papuan leaderÂ’s murder?

Queensland: Boswell beats Hanson, but what now?

Interview: Will Bailey answers development bank critics

LAW: International Criminal Court leads to legal uncertainty

Straws in the Wind

MEDIA: ABC electioneering

Letter: A bad mix

Letter: New patrol boats

Letter: Queue jumping

Interview with Bjorn Lomborg: Science versus name-calling

ECONOMY: The trade news from Doha

WA family debate hots up

DRUGS: Community drug prevention

Books: 'Meaninglessness: The Solutions of Nietzsche, Freud and Rorty', by Michael Casey

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Irian Jaya: Was Jakarta involved in West Papuan leaderÂ’s murder?

by Greg Poulgrain

News Weekly, December 1, 2001

Human rights investigations into the death of West Papuan nationalist, Theys Eluay, now show that the last known whereabouts of Eluay’s driver, Ari Masoka, was at the headquarters of Kopassus, the Indonesian army special forces.

A flamboyant spokesman for the Papuan Presidium, Theys Eluay was in the process of organising a Papuan plebiscite throughout the province on December 1, when he was assassinated on Saturday, November 10. Such a vote would have had only symbolic value, of course, but on the world stage Theys knew it would show the Papuan people’s preference for independence over Jakarta’s "special autonomy".

Fraudulent act

Moreover, Papuans voting freely would demonstrate the fraudulence of the so-called "act of free choice" orchestrated in 1969, by which Indonesia with UN approval took over the land of the Papuans. In 1969, Theys himself was one of the few who were permitted to vote.

The role of Kopassus in East Timor, particularly the referendum, brought international opprobrium, and the Kopassus reaction to any new referendum in Papua would be to nip it in the bud.

Investigations into the kidnapping and murder of Theys Eluay have been conducted by ELS-HAM, an internationally respected Papuan human rights group. According to the autopsy, he died from suffocation. This occurred some hours after attending an annual Indonesian celebration on the evening of November 10, at Kopassus headquarters.

Initially, Theys refused the invitation for the "Heroes’ Day" celebration, according to Theys’ wife, Yaneke Ohe. However, when Colonel Hartomo, the Kopassus commander, came in person to Theys’ house, he could only agree.

From Sentani, Theys and his driver travelled 40 km to the capital, Jayapura, firstly for a regional government celebration at Matoa Hotel, which he attended with Colonel Hartomo, then to the second gathering at Kopassus headquarters in the area known as Hamadi. These buildings are located in the grounds of the Suharto-family Hanurata timber company which had the first concessions in Papua even before 1969.

Theys and his driver left the Kopassus compound around 10 pm, and a short time later Theys’ wife received an urgent call on the driver’s mobile phone. On a roundabout, with observers in cars in full view, a dark "Kijang" van had stopped in front of Theys’ car. Two men, well-built, straight-haired and non-Papuan, were hijacking their car, the driver explained frantically on his hand-phone to Theys’ wife in Sentani.

The thugs, two in control of Theys’ car and with more in the dark van, drove in the same direction away from Jayapura. After a short distance, however, Theys’ driver escaped. One of the thugs gave chase, unsuccessfully. Then both vehicles disappeared into the night. Ari Masoka was beside himself with panic, according to witnesses. He sought help from one of several cars where these events occurred.

"Now they are going to kill Theys. Take me to Hamadi," Ari Masoka pleaded. So the six occupants in another vehicle did as requested by Theys’ driver, and left him at Kopassus headquarters. The time was now about 10.45 pm. Another witness, still attending the celebrations, later told investigators that after Colonel Hartomo had farewelled Theys he recalled that Ari Masoka returned alone. Kopassus personnel took him away and he has not been seen since.

On November 17, the day of Theys Eluay’s funeral, the Jakarta Post reported that "Jayapura Police chief, Daud Sihombing, said the police had been informed that Eluay’s driver was alive but his whereabouts remained unknown." Whether or not Kopassus has Theys’ driver in a safe-house, they should explain his disappearance.

The day after the kidnapping, Theys’ body was recovered near the PNG border, about one hour’s drive away.

The killing of Theys Eluay, carried out with impunity, appears to be in defiance even of Jakarta’s plan to implement "special autonomy".

The proposed fiscal reform will ensure that 70 to 80 per cent of revenue stays in the province, but there is an absence of real administrative reform.

Autonomy seems a misnomer when the Indonesian Army and Police remain, in tens of thousands, and Jakarta intends to send an additional 2,500 bureaucrats.

Too much blood has spilled onto Papuan soil at the hands of the Indonesian military - a holocaust measured in hundreds of thousands - while in nearby PNG and Australia, eyes are turned away.

Theys Eluay’s death may yet be a milestone towards the historic referendum that he wanted for the Papuans.

A full investigation of the driver’s disappearance is needed urgently. There was deep resentment when Jakarta discarded Papuan suggestions for political reform and now a lethal lack of credibility shrouds Jakarta’s plans for "special autonomy".

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