MAC: Mines and Communities

West Papua: Police slay Tribal Activist at world's biggest copper-gold minesite

Published by MAC on 2010-01-11
Source: Reuters, AP, Jakarta Post & others (2010-12-21)

Last month, a legendary leader of the West Papua self-determination movement, OPM, was ambushed and shot dead by Indonesian police.

Kelly Kwalik was accused of having "master-minded" recent fatal attacks on workers within the huge Freeport-Rio Tinto mining concession area.

This line was adopted uncritically by several reporters, despite an earlier statement by Indonesia's army chief that the OPM had nothing to do with these assaults. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9486

Threat to blockade Freeport-McMoran's massive Grasberg copper-gold mine

Samuel Wanda

Reuters

21 December 2009

TIMIKA, Indonesia - Tribal leaders in Indonesia's easternmost Papua province on Monday threatened to blockade Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc's huge mine after police killed a separatist commander last week.

Kelly Kwalik had led a militant wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and was one of the members who had campaigned against the presence of Freeport, which operates the Grasberg copper and gold mine.

The OPM has waged a low-level insurgency against the Indonesian government for four decades.

About 700 people gathered on Monday outside the local parliament building in Timika where Kwalik's body was kept, awaiting burial, and threatened to disrupt activity at the mine if Freeport's chairman, James (Jim) Moffett, did not come to Timika to pay his respects to Kwalik.

"Moffett must come and follow the burial, if not the burial must be delayed and Freeport must be closed down," men and women shouted outside parliament.

Timika is the main town near Freeport's huge Grasberg mine, which accounts for nearly 40% of Freeport's total copper reserves of 93 billion pounds, and boasts the world's largest gold reserves. (Reporting by Samuel Wanda in Timika, Writing by Olivia Rondonuwu; Editing by Sara Webb and Sugita Katyal)


Open letter to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs re death of Kelly Kwalik

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) Media release

20 December 2009

The Australia West Papua Association has written to The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning the increasing tension in West Papua caused by the shooting of OPM leader Kelly Kwalik by Indonesian security forces. AWPA has raised a number of concerns about the reported death of Kelly and has called on the Foreign Minister to use his good offices with the Indonesian Government, urging it to control its security forces in the territory during any funeral and mourning services by the West Papuan people for Kelly Kwalik and asking it to halt any military operations as a way of avoiding further bloodshed.

(Letter below).

Info. Joe Collins. Mob. 04077 857 97

--

The Hon Stephen Smith MP

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Parliament House

Canberra

ACT 2600

20 December 2009

Dear Mr Smith,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), concerning the volatile situation in West Papua caused by the shooting of OPM leader Kelly Kwalik on Wednesday the 16 December. While his death has yet to be confirmed (the family of Kelly has declined to provide DNA samples to the authorities), there is no doubt that there is increasing tension in West Papua because of the reports of his death by the security forces . The West Papuan People are expressing their grief and outrage through numerous rallies which include calls for independence

Media articles have reported that Kelly was shot by members of the Police Mobile Brigade and by members of the anti-terror force Detachment 88. AWPA's concern is that the Australian military may have been training these forces as part of our commitment to Indonesia under the Lombok treaty. We point out that Kelly Kwalik is a hero to the West Papuan people and who, like all members of civil society organisations in West Papua, had committed himself to the concept of West Papua as a land of peace. We ask the question, what benefit have the West Papuan people received by our troops training with the Indonesian military?

It is reported that the security forces are also seeking other members of Kelly's unit and we have great fears the civilian population could suffer during any military operations in the area.

We are also concerned that the security forces will now try to make Kelly a scapegoat for the fatal shootings around the Freeport copper and gold mine in West Papua earlier this year, including that of Australian mine technician Drew Grant. The Australian Government sent two Australian Federal Police officers to the mine area to investigate the shootings and we would be interested to hear about their findings. Kelly Kwalik had denied any involvement in the killings.

We ask you to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government, urging it to control its security forces in the territory during any funeral and mourning services by the West Papuan people for Kelly Kwalik and asking it to halt any military operations as a way of avoiding further bloodshed.

Yours sincerely

Joe Collins

Secretary

AWPA (Sydney)


Papuans protest Indonesia police slaying of leader

By NINIEK KARMINI, Associated Press

17 December 2009

About 300 people on Thursday protested the police killing of a separatist leader accused in the deaths of 11 people in Indonesia's restive Papua province and demanded his body be released for burial.

Many wore tribal dress, sang patriotic songs popular with secessionists and danced outside a government building in the mining town of Timika where Kelly Kwalik, a militant leader in the Free Papua Movement, was shot Wednesday while fleeing a police raid.

Police had suspected Kwalik of ordering a series of shootings this year near the Freeport gold mine - a symbol of Jakarta's rule of the province and a common target of rebels.

Police flew Kwalik's body to the provincial capital Jayapura, where his identity was confirmed, Papua Police Chief Maj. Gen. Bekto Suprapto said Thursday. He did not say when the body would be released.

Kwalik's followers want the body returned to Timika for burial; their protest ended peacefully.

The police assertion that they shot Kwalik because he was armed with a revolver and resisted arrest has been met with skepticism in Papua.

His followers accuse the police of undermining the prospects of a peace dialogue between Jakarta and separatists in Indonesia's easternmost province by intentionally killing the leader, who was in his 60s.

"The problems in Papua cannot be solved by weapons because that will only result in new violence," the Rev. Sofyan Yoman, a Baptist Church leader in Papua, said on Thursday.

He called for Jakarta to agree to a brokered peace dialogue similar to that which led to the province of Aceh becoming semiautonomous.

Indonesian military spokesman Rear Marshal Sagom Tamboen welcomed the prospect of a peace dialogue and congratulated police in tracking down Kwalik.

Police accuse Kwalik of ordering ambushes from July to November on the road to the world's largest gold mine, which is in central Papua and is operated by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona. The attacks killed eight people, including an Australian, and wounded 37.

They also allege Kwalik ordered a 2002 attack on a vehicle convoy headed toward the Freeport mine that killed three teachers _ two American and an Indonesian.

Independence activists have been protesting Indonesian rule in the impoverished province since a United Nations ballot placed the former Dutch colony under Jakarta's control in 1969. Police have been accused of brutality against the secessionists.


Security on High Alert After Riots In Papua

Jakarta Globe, John Pakage & Agencies

20 December 2009

Jayapura: Security forces in Timika, southern Papua province, increased the alert level there on Sunday after anger over the killing of separatist leader Kelly Kwalik provoked rioting on Saturday.

In a gesture of defiance, supporters sang songs about local heroes while Kwalik's coffin lay in state at the Mimika Legislative Council (DPRD) draped in the Morning Star flag. The flag, which has been banned by the Indonesian government, has come to represent resistance to what many Papuans consider to be the brutal occupation of their homeland by Indonesia.

Kwalik's coffin is expected to remain at the DPRD for several days. The date for his funeral has not yet been announced.

Kwalik, the commander of the military arm of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), was killed on Wednesday during a police raid of his hideout, police said.

On Sunday, police and soldiers from the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) prevented trucks from entering the township in the resource- rich district. Sites including the airport, gas stations, convenience stores and banks were placed under heavy security. In front of the DPRD, hundreds of soldiers and police officers, both in uniform and in civilian's clothes, mingled with members of the public.

On Saturday, as many as 500 angry mourners threw stones at security forces after a tribal leader delivered a fiery speech near the DPRD. Nerius Katagame, a leader of Kwalik's Amungme tribe, had earlier riled Kwalik's supporters by telling them to express their discontent in writing to the Indonesian government, rather than taking to the streets. Police fired warning shots into the air to disperse the protesters.

Poorly armed OPM rebels have waged a low-level insurgency against Indonesian rule since the mid-1960s.

Police have linked Kwalik to several ambushes near Timika over the past six months targeting US-based miner Freeport McMoRan. An Australian technician was killed in July, while in 2002, two US Freeport employees were killed in similar circumstances.

Freeport's giant gold and copper mine has long been linked to human rights abuses involving the Indonesian troops who have been hired to secure the facility.

In 1986, Kwalik's group allegedly kidnapped and killed eight Javanese students. He was also accused of ordering the kidnapping of 12 scientists, including four Indonesians, four Britons, two Germans and two Dutch in 1996. Two of the Indonesians were killed in a military rescue operation that freed the hostages three months later.

In 2001 he is said to have ordered the kidnapping of two Belgian journalists who were released after two months.

Despite the negligible military threat posed by the OPM, Indonesian courts have handed down stiff penalties - ranging from 20 years to life in jail - for people caught with separatist symbols.

Karel Gwijangge, a member of the Mimika Council of Representatives, said on Sunday that Kwalik's family had asked that the Morning Star flag be raised at his burial. The request was denied.

"We agreed to keep security conditions favorable in the interest of the public," Karel said.


Police kill separatist rebel leader in Papua

Associated Press (AP)

16 December 2009

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Police fatally shot Wednesday a separatist rebel leader accused in the deaths of eight people including an Australian near the Freeport gold mine in restive Papua province, an official said.

Kelly Kwalik, a leader in the Free Papua Movement, was shot as he tried to escape an early morning police raid on a house in the mountain village of Gorong Gorong in the remote eastern province, police spokesman Maj. Gen. Nanan Sukarna said.

He died hours later in a medical clinic in the nearby mining town of Timika, Sukarna said, adding that Kwalik had been armed with a revolver.

Kwalik had ordered ambushes on the road to the world's largest gold mine in central Papua, operated by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona. The attacks between July 8 and Nov. 2 killed 8 people and wounded 37, Sukarna said.

Police had recently arrested several rebels who led them to the house and told them that they had carried out the ambushes on Kwalik's orders, he said.

"He is responsible for the shootings," Sukarna told reporters in Jakarta.

The victims were all Indonesian apart from 29-year-old Australian project manager Drew Grant.

Grant was shot in the neck and chest on July 11 in what police described as a coordinated attack by several gunmen armed with assault rifles.

Some analysts suspect that some of the ambushes were staged by Indonesian police and military forces who compete for millions in illegal profits for protecting the mine.

Kwalik's killing drew immediate criticism from a Papuan rights campaigner, who said his death will likely spur the long-running independence movement.

Independence activists have been protesting Indonesian rule in the province since a United Nations ballot placed the former Dutch colony under Jakarta's control in 1969. Police have been accused of brutality against the secessionists.

Activist Theo Hesegem described Kwalik - a former Roman Catholic seminarian - as the most important leader to be killed by Indonesian forces in Papua since independence advocate Theys Eluay was strangled by soldiers in 2004.

"He was a freedom fighter and a respected leader in Papuan society," Hesegem said. "Killing our leader like this shows that the Indonesians do not respect us."

Hesegem said Kwalik had wanted the Freeport mine closed because local people did not benefit from it.

He said Kwalik had openly waged a guerrilla war against the Indonesian military but never claimed responsibility for the armed attacks on the mine.

Police spokesman Sukarna also said Kwalik had ordered a 2002 attack on a vehicle convoy headed toward the Freeport mine that killed three teachers - two American and an Indonesian.

Another eight Americans were seriously wounded in the ambush that also strained ties between Washington and Jakarta.

Seven Papuans were convicted over that attack and were given sentences of up to life in prison.

Kwalik grabbed international attention in 1996 when his rebels took 17 Indonesians and seven European biologists hostage. Two of the Indonesians were killed but the rest were eventually released.

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