The suffering of Biak (West New Guinea 1974)

“They put in jute bags, thrown into the sea and many women were first raped.”

Dr. C. Lagerberg

The core of the resistance of the coastal Papuans, that since the mid-19th century by the Protestant Mission in civilization were brought, not only offered opposition from Manokwari, but just as strong from Biak. After the referendum of 1969 and the departure of the UN, there was no moderating influence on the Indonesian government, while Papua resistance in the form of the freedom movement, OPM has hardened. The Papuan villages in West Biak with clans as Awom, Dimara and others, whose names had better not be mentioned, already had a tradition of resistance. Reporter Henk de Mari, who are staying for a long time the confidence of the Papuans won, drew from the lips of some one display on of punitive expeditions, which are strikingly similar to the U.S. action in the Vietnam War, when the village in May Long victim of a massacre.

We write in June 1974. After an attack by the OPM in the Indonesian army, which a dozen casualties on Indonesian side had fallen, the retribution of the Indonesian elite troops in the form of the killing of the adjacent beach communities and Kridori Wusdori in West Biak. The Indonesian army patrolled along the two villages and found no one. After two days the people were after him hiding to have in the jungle back in the village to suddenly be confronted with the returning patrol, the men, 25 from Wusdori and 30 from Kridori in an open area between the two villages in Church drove together and forced to kick and hands to dig a large pit. The process is well known: a fusillade with women and children threatened spectators, a Biak ‘killing field’. Except for a witness to the excavation seem to speak. And that was not the end: one day later the soldiers returned with 30 other suspects from neighboring villages, she rocks to the neck of the canoes and Wusdiri Kridori forced off the shore and carried them within sight of women and children, herded on the beach overboard and drown. Of those bodies will be difficult to find a remnant, but detection seems unlikely.

One of the most traumatic events in the series of human rights violations took place in Biak off on July 6, 1998. It was the anniversary of July 1, 1971 a) when the independence of Papua on the island was declared in response to the fraudulent referendum of 1969 and the subsequent Indonesian national elections. Biak called thus as the first independent state of West Papua, although the majority of New Guinea that would only be on 1 December, the day the Papuans in 1961 by a Netherlands flag and an anthem were .. The commemoration of Biak July 1, 1971 had in 1998 a special news because after the fall of President Suharto and the inauguration of President Abdul Rahman Wahid in a restless and rebellious Indonesia on April 22 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter had to the President of the United States to end to the injustice that the Papuans by the poll of 1969 people were affected. Copies of the letter came into the possession of Papuans in Biak. Year after year, on July i repeated the resistance of a freedom movement, rooted in a past that goes beyond the Indonesian anti-colonial revolution. Biak was a leading role in the independence movement in Papua as a whole. It must be especially taken into account that, speaking of Papua to do with an island that is part of Melanesia, the islands that stretch far into the Pacific Ocean and extends for several reasons has become of growing importance.

The most striking fact which took place prior to Biak in the Second World War, world news by the advancing Allied forces, with the hop, skip and jump towards Japan went, was the opposition of the Biak people, especially the peninsula Supiori against the Japanese occupation, which hundreds of people lost their lives. It was a resistance, which was inspired by the movement Koreri 3), more than any other movement with its cargo cult character typical of Melanesia, in contrast to the Southeast Asian nations a black bias. Moreover, by the Protestant Missions from the mid 19th century at the expense of large missionary offerings Christianized and it is not too far fetched when a connect on that deep-rooted Koreri movements to the salvation doctrine of Christianity, which in combination with Finally decent education to the entire north coast of Papua has been implanted. And just to the north coast of Papua to the westernmost of Biak island Batanta finds these movements, where the population most in opposition to the spiritual enslavement of foreign domination. It is striking to this day that resistance carried by descendants of old Biak clans such as the Awomdo of the peninsula Supiori that the great rebellion in the Bird’s Head behind Manokwari with Permenas Awom and the guerrilla struggle Wasior-Nabire with Daniel Awom in the neck of the Bird’s Head led. Without understanding the mythical background of the struggle in the Bird’s Head, where the first Papuan resistance movement in cooperation with the population of the Arfakgebergte an Indonesian army post liquidated without any idea of ​​the Christian tradition, in over a half century on the north coast was, foreign domination of course can not exercise authority over the population. The strategic importance of the island was also important for the historical struggle between the Allies and Japan, and thus lying on back NieuwvGuinea Australia. Even today, Biak as important stopover in the air link from Australia to Europe or landing in the service of the modern tourist traffic between the U.S. and Indonesia. The Indonesian government is more aware of the strategic importance of the island after it in the New Guinea conflict despite invasion attempts failed to gain foothold on the island of Biak, where the Dutch Navy and Air Force were concentrated. From Biak, even the establishment of a bridgehead on the vast coastline prevented. But the strategic importance is most clearly to his right by the institution of the people who have worked with their catamarans, the canoes with double outriggers, the oceans sailed far into the Indonesian archipelago and thus responded to the hongi tours, which Indonesian rajas on the coasts of New Guinea were, like the informal but recognized “president” Mark Wonggor (crocodile) Kaisiepo liked to tell. The Dutch government has any understanding of the uniqueness of the area shown by an immediate post-war democratic order in advance and the first Regional Council of New Guinea to establish under the direction of one of its most eminent administrators Jungle Pimpernel Dr Vic de Bruyn. 3) Regional Council and who was not appointed to a colonial name like Hollandia, Noordwijk, or Heaven’s gate, but the name was authentic Biak: Kankain Karkara, with the sound of drums report.

Biak was thus the beginning of Papua nationalism, has remained as tribalism or parochialism time being in force, the hereditary enemy was after all the neighboring island of Japan, that because of the Netherlands pro Biak on the rebound Indonesian-minded was, where it has to add that Biak as their special individual self-esteem to see recognized. So did a member of the clan Biak Frans Kasiepo on the forefront by deserting to the Indonesian camp because he was the first resident of New Guinea Eechoud felt misunderstood. This happened in the period when the Netherlands sought unity government of the Dutch East Indies to replace a federal Indonesia, the Republic of Indonesia with a state Serikat eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, which would belong. Such integration was at odds with the insight of his cousin Mark Kaisiepo, 4) which stood for full independence. After the takeover by Indonesia was of course French pushed forward. If one of the plane at Biak airstrip Mokmer lands the first thing one sees a building with them in big red letters the name French Kaisiepo, but that Indonesia honor is not Papua recognition followed: the letters are in years faded and no Biakker that name will tan the contrary. On July 2, 1998 celebrated the award of the national flag by hoisting the Morning preserved since 1961, not listed on the French Kaisiepo airport, but the water tower, where a round-the-clock guard was with men, women and children, if they wanted the independence that way calling. 5) The demonstration was led by Dr Philip (Jopi) Karma. It was after the fall of Suharto, under pressure from student demonstrations and after unsuccessful intervention of the army in a rebellious country, harbored hopes that the new president Abdurrahman Wahid, the friend of Gus Dur people. The demonstrators were encouraged by the letter from U.S. Congressmen to the President of the U.S. to the newly appointed Indonesian rule the Papuan case. On July 2 in the morning at 5 o’clock, some 75 Papuans painted with the honorary flag, the Kedjora or Morning Star or the letters of the freedom movement OPM, singing and dancing around the 35 meter high tower, where others joined them until sure were 500 men, including boys with a bracelet with the inscription Satgas as the order of service called the Papuans. After a few hours appeared to Papua district Amandus Mansnembra and several police and army commanders to the demonstration “in the right direction”, but Karma read a proclamation of independence on 10 points, which concluded with the invocation of the Holy Trinity unit as a witness to the vow of life and death to fight for freedom. In the afternoon, thought the protesters a traitor in their midst to see the police sergeant Irwan, who they beat up gave, after security forces operations, mobile police, infantry battalion 753, Kodim 1702 and a unit of the Navy Postal Plus Papuan police. The demonstrators fought back and took 23 casualties, most of whom Papuan police. The troops withdrew after a few hours, but the daily routine on Biak fell silent, shops were closed and a ship, the Dobonsodo, was lying in the roads. Meanwhile, the authorities organized a demonstration against the sub-district of West Biak with the threat that they suspected would be loaded to the OPM to hear if they refused to act against the demonstrators. Each chief was to ensure against a thirty-demonstrators, they had to wear a bracelet for the security forces and would be recognizable from both sides attacking the protesters launched. They were brought by trucks to the water tower, but the recruited Papuans did not fight very seriously. The protesters were armed with spears and meanwhile Molotov cocktails and throwing blocks. On July 4 began discussions between local church leaders and security forces to reach a settlement, but the afternoon landed a Hercules transport aircraft with Trikora soldiers from Ujung Pandang and riot control agents of the notorious Brimob, the semi-military mobile Police acted on. The negotiations led to the protesters handed in their weapons, but swore on the Bible that they would defend Morning to their deaths. On the morning of July 5 at 5 o’clock attacked the security forces, the battalion Pattimura-733, because there were now two warships with troops landed from two sides opened fire on the demonstrators. They fired at random into the crowd with sharp, even though there was one report of a rubber ball. They came from Ujung Pandang and Ambon, hard Hassanudin and Pattimura units. The organizer of the demonstration Karma Philip joined them with a Bible raised high response, of course, not favorably. An eyewitness A. Awom, who kept watch at the command posts, managed to escape and kept (even though armed with a Bible) lies close to the harbor and watched from under a bridge, how a hundred Biak, including women and children to the ship were cursed and yelled, some wounded and bleeding with their tattoos OPM or Morning Star. He also saw two trucks containing squatting Papuans, guarded by soldiers. The end of his statement reads: “The image of those men, women and children, that early morning were taken to the ship I do not forget quickly. Especially now I know how they finished: they are put into sacks and thrown into the sea and many women were first raped. That remains in your life. ” 6) Later, seem overwhelmed. Observer Sawor Zacharias, visiting from the Netherlands, there were 28 corpses which drifted to the coast. There was confused by the course of events a strange state of affairs when displaying the number of victims, who washed ashore from the sea. Indonesian military and the press claimed that the bodies from neighboring Papua New Guinea had been driven about 900 km away on July 16 where a tidal wave, a tsunami, the village had been wiped Aitepe, but that explanation was not very credible. As of July 27 washed only in East Biak seem, a single corpse was wearing a T-shirt printed with Indonesia, the corpses were also maimed. The army claimed that they tattooed were after the manner of the eastern part of the island of Papua New Guinea, but the military knowledge of Papuan tattoos was probably the test of criticism is not entirely pass, for there was in any case no identification allowed on the contrary, The bodies were buried secretly and hastily. Sawor, from Supiori, learned in his native village of the data missing, killed and dumped inhabitants, but exact figures were available only slowly. Above the call of the churches to an impartial investigation had to be smothered. A harsh circumstance in the arrest of demonstrators in the hoisting of the flag in early July was that they were forced on their backs on the floor to lie down for two hours in the hot sun, and soldiers was ordered with boots over their bodies and faces to walk. An additional benefit beyond the effect of harassment was for the armed forces, that those who do not immediately have been keeping members in the subsequent combing of homes nabbed could be if they showed traces of sunburn or injury due to the actions of the military . So they were, men, women and children are forced over a distance of several hundred meters on all fours to the docks to crawl low under the gentle guidance. In any case, it clear that the revolt from above was taken very seriously. And that assessment was correct, but the solution was no more than a cover-up. Drs. Philip Karma was arrested, along with Neles Sroyer, Augustine Sada, Klemens Rumsawir and many others, a total of some 150 people of whom 19 were brought into a court hearing on 5 October, to an audience of several hundred interested, the session was chaired by Mr MKSianifar. The indictment read: rebellion and spreading hatred against the regime (Articles 106,154 and 170 of the Criminal Code). The action of the armed forces were in no way subject matter, but died two arrested Paul and Nico Mamoribo SMAS two weeks after their release, a dozen were missing from them is never heard. The death of the two detainees or missing persons by the competent authorities in any way cause any measures found. The background of the Biak-drama is found most clearly represented by two Australian aid workers, Rebecca Casey and Paul Meixner, who attended the entire event and interviews with victims overtook details. 7) They photographed and filmed the shooting. They put emphasis in their report on the coincidence of the celebration of the “Freedom Day” on July 1 with the fall of Suharto, Indonesia wholly intoxication brought a change. Were also reported in Biak misdeeds as the stabbing of a fire truck and army battles with the local police, the police side with two deaths. The tendency to explain their view of what is happening is the subordination of Papua in everyday life: the lack of medical care, poor education and general unease about the actions or lack of local authorities, read : the role of the army, but root causes, which the Australians do not mention: the looting of the country such as the exploitation of copper mines in the central hills, the export of hardwood stock, the expropriation of the oil deposits and sagobestanden, The overfishing of fishery resources and the capture of (rare) tropical birds, the environmental damage at the disposal of the waste products of mining in the form of trunk, which Ajkwa River to its mouth in the Arafura Sea pollution and fish kill and above the influx of immigrants from poorer sponsored and wild parts of Indonesia, by protection (and corruption), the Papua deprive a fair chance and not infrequently themselves the army of unemployed increase. The suppression appears to every observer, the main motive for incessant resistance. Especially the pastoral staff, which is precisely the ground running have report released by highly qualified medewerkers.8) Thus the pastoral team of the united churches involved in the identification of 51 unidentified corpses and mentioned details of the mutilation of beached corpses, each connection with the tsunami in Papua New Guinea, in Aitepe belie. Of a male corpse found it that the penis was cut off, while the trousers are very pale and stripped of a woman’s body, which body parts were cut away. About the conduct of the military intervention in collective well-marked parts or particular command is more robust to be brought into the open, though one of the discretion to the victims want to keep hidden. The island population of Biak estimated by the hoisting of the flag in early July 1998 the international response to the riots and President change in Jakarta wrong and did also not consider such a violent activities of armed force against protesters community, but the ongoing suffering still further resistance calls. The ruthless but cornered regime in Jakarta under the military leadership can therefore not be left unanswered.

Te full original text in the Dutch language can be read HERE. The above text is a result of a Google-translation.

1) West Papua Courier jrg 23 # 3 p.7
2) See Dr. FCKamma, Koreri Dr.CSIJLagerberg, Years of reconstruction, Dr. JAGodschalk, Sela Valley.
3) Dr.. V. de Bruyn wandered during the Japanese occupation, with some mountain Papuans in the area of ​​the Wissel Lakes, where he was untraceable for the enemy. This title was later published a book about his opposition.
4) Mark Kaisiepo Netherlands would eventually die as a stateless citizen, can apply the particularity that on his death was a condolence to the royal family, which he continued to maintain a relationship.
5) about the events in general, in various media reports, especially in the Indonesian press, but with some delay in the Netherlands and in á Contrecoeur Australië.De publication is in two stages, shortly after the suppression of the demonstration in July 98 and one year later in 1999 as several published studies. The first reports come mainly from Indonesia’s Suara Pemburuan sheets (21-7 and 2-9), Sinar Pagi and Compass (21-7), Tifa Irian (August) and later Algemeen Dagblad in the Netherlands (5-12), of course, Papua magazine in the Netherlands, West Papua Courier (Jrg 20, No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 with eyewitness reports). The current event is also found in Head by Mike. WSWS: Indonesia (28/11/98) with interviews of Australian aid workers, who work on Biak waren.Twee contrasting reports on human rights violations in 1999 as the general public information and penetrated: the authoritative Human Rights Watch report with chapters The Biak demonstration (IV) and The bodies (V) and the opposite Indonesian reporting Kronologis Kajadian Tuntutan Gerombolan Pengacau Keamanan, the latter, the abbreviation GPK stands for by Papuans used OPM (Operasi Papua Merdeka ). The reports on human rights violations (particularly on the missing items, the washed up corpses and other violations) will be borne by the Papuans and Tim advocasi Chop Azasi Manusia Laporan Pelanggaran Ham Sat Biak. The English press has been contributed through articles in the Sydney Morning Herald (’99-13-7) and South China Morning Post (12-7, ’99) and the Indonesian press in Jakarta Pos (12-7, ’99)
6) West Papua Courier jrg 20, report Z. Sawor
7) Mike Head in WSWS: Indonesia 28-11-’98
8) Tim Laporan Pastoral PGI Suara Pemburuan Daily 2-9 ’98-Jakarta


About Antoni Uni

I am born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and went to Spain, l'Escala - Costabrava, in 1988. After 15 years I made a mistake and went travelling in S.E. Asia. and in 2005 I dropped down in Bangkok where I still live. Mijn website met foto's is:
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