Saturday, January 23, 2010

What do Haitians need to know about the international responses to Timor and Indonesia

What should Haitians know about the international responses to the humanitarian disasters in Timor-Leste and Indonesia? What can they learn about ensuring the international responses serve their needs and wishes? What lessons can be learned from the international responses to the destruction in 1999, the tsunami in Aceh, various earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout Indonesia?

Post your thoughts as responses as comments.

Banda Aceh mosque remains standing after tsunami devastates Aceh in 2004. AP Photo

WPAT/ETAN on Naming of Senior Kopassus Officer as Indonesia Military Commander in West Papua

The West Papua Advocacy Team and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network are extremely troubled by the naming of a senior Special Forces (Kopassus) officer as regional commander in West Papua. Kopassus forces have a long and dark history in the region.

 The appointment of Major General Hotma Marbun to the Military Command for the Kodam-XVII Cenderawasih region comes as Papuans continue to seek a dialogue with the Jakarta Government and the demilitarization of their homeland. Their appeals have been resisted by a military that persists in describing Papuans seeking their rights as "separatists" and justifies attacks on peaceful demonstrators as necessary to defending Indonesia's territorial integrity.

 The naming of any Kopassus officer in command of the region raises obvious human rights concerns. In addition, Major General Marbun has a personal record that underscores these concerns. As pointed out by the respected UK human rights organization Tapol, Marbun was involved in operations in Indonesia-occupied East Timor in 1983 and 1986, a particularly bloody period during the occupation. He also participated in military operations in West Papua in 1982 and 1994.
General Marbun takes command at a time of growing security force abuse in the region, as recently documented by Human Rights Watch. Indonesian human rights organizations including the Papuan branch of the Indonesian government's official  Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) recently voiced public support for the withdrawal of military forces from West Papua to improve prospects for dialogue.

Kopassus actions in West Papua include "sweeping operations" purportedly in pursuit of "separatists" that in fact targeted highland Papuan villagers and the torture/murder of the leading Papuan political figure Theys Eluay. The deeply flawed Indonesian justice system notoriously has chronically failed to hold accountable Kopassus and other Indonesian security forces responsible for criminality and human rights violations.

For decades, the U.S. military provided training and other assistance to Kopassus notwithstanding its widely acknowledged abuses and criminal activity.  Despite the demonstrated failure of international assistance to improve its behavior, the Obama administration is reportedly considering resuming such assistance, terminated under Congressional pressure more than  a decade ago.

Papuans are increasingly marginalized in their homeland, as tensions grow between Papuans and migrants, and Papuan demands for an internationally mediated dialogue with Jakarta and for the demilitarization of West Papua go unanswered In this context, the appointment of a commander from the Indonesian military's hard line Kopassus is profoundly disturbing.

ETAN was formed in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for occupied East Timor. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information, see ETAN's web site: The West Papua Advocacy Team produces the monthly West Papua Report.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Heavy Oil Construction Begins at Hera, Timor-Leste

From La'o Hamutuk:

On 15 January 2010, the Prime Minister, President of the Republic, Minister of Infrastructure and President of Parliament, together with a few ambassadors, laid the cornerstone for the Hera generating project, attended by more than 100 Government officials and a few others, although virtually nobody from civil society, international agencies or the political opposition was present. This is the first element of a $360 million system of two power plants which will be powered by heavy fuel and 800 km of high-voltage power lines. It is intended to power 12 districts within two years.

A contract was signed in October 2008 with Chinese Nuclear Industry Construction Company #22, with promises to electrify the nation by the end of 2009. However, work at the Hera site was suspended in mid-2009, and major technical changes were made in the project design. It will no longer use second-hand generators, can be adapted in the future to other fuels, and will have a more reliable closed-loop grid design.

Speakers at the Hera ceremony were defensive, attacking those who suggested improvements to the project. Photographs, complete Tetum audio recordings and unofficial English and Tetum transcripts by La'o Hamutuk are available at .

Betano is in Manufahi district, not in Covalima as shown on the banner behind the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. Photos from La'o Hamutuk,

For information on heavy oil project developments during 2010, see
For information on heavy oil project developments during 2008-2009, see

Abridged excerpts from the speeches which preceded the laying of the cornerstone follow below.

-- La'o Hamutuk, 22 January 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rally in DC to Free Prisoners of Conscience in West Papua

From Amnesty International Mid-Atlantic

Dear friends of Indonesia, East Timor, Freedom, and Human Rights,

Please come out for our first demonstration of the year to to secure the immediate and unconditional release of Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage, Amnesty International Prisoners of Conscience (POC) and the Mid-Atlantic Special Focus Case (SFC). .

Please come out on Thursday, January 21 from 12:30-!:30pm, and show your solidarity with Filep and Yusak who could spend the next decade or more in prison for the peaceful raising of a flag.  Join us in demanding the release of these two courageous human rights defenders! 

We will provide colorful flags, noisy chin-chins, and great chants and visuals.

Thursday, January 21, 2010, 12:30 – 1:30pm
Indonesian Embassy

2020 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC