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INDONESIA: Killing of two indigenous Papuans during sweeping operation

December 3, 2010

Dear friends,

According to reports received from local activists, two villagers were killed in Bolakme, Papua, Indonesia during a sweeping operation by the security forces on December 1, 2010.



Local activists reported that between 10am and 5pm on December 1, 2010 in the Bolakme sub-district of Jayawijaya in Papua, Indonesia, the Indonesian military (TNI) (Kodim 1702) and police (Jayawijaya resort police) conducted a joint sweeping operation regarding alleged separatist activities. Two indigenous Papuans, Asli Wenda and Elius Tabuni were shot dead during the operation at 1pm. 

No post mortem examination has yet been conducted as there are no facilities for autopsies in the area. The relatives or supporters of the victim would have to travel and transfer the body to the nearest medical doctor themselves, which is difficult insecure given the distance to hospitals and the aggressive activities by the security forces.

Bolakme is a small town in the Papuan highland region, which is heavily militarized and suffers from an oppressive climate due to the tense security situation.

See more pictures: photo 1, photo 2



The AHRC has documented numerous cases of such human rights violations that point to a pattern of endemic and possibly systematic arbitrary arrest, torture and killings as part of military operations against separatist movements. Due to operations by the military as well as the police, many innocent members of the indigenous community are being deprived of their rights and freedoms as Indonesian citizens. 

The AHRC has received credible reports about violations of rights allegedly committed by the military during "sweeping" operations by the military in the West Papuan highlands, which include the burning of houses, killing of livestock, arrests and other forms of violence. Since Indonesia is not allowing foreign journalists or human rights groups into the area, little is known about the extent of the problem, although reports are increasingly making their way out of the region.

The AHRC recalls that the military are placed beyond the reach of civilian courts, by virtue of Indonesia’s military law. Discussions on legislation to enable soldiers that commit crimes against civilians to be brought before civilian courts have reportedly been halted without result and are no longer listed for discussion by the country's parliament.


Please send letters to the authorities below calling for an independent and impartial investigation into the case, the effective prosecution of the perpetrators and investigations into all forms of intimidations of the indigenous community. Jakarta should respond to the call for a genuine dialogue with the indigenous communities. 

The AHRC is also writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people as well as the UN Independent Expert on minority issues.




Dear __________,


INDONESIA: Killing of two indigenous Papuans during sweeping operation


Names of victims: Asli Wenda, Elius Tabuni
Date of incident: December 1, 2010
Place of incident: Bolakme, Jayawijaya, Papua, Indonesia
Alleged perpetrators: Indonesian military (TNI) (Kodim 1702) and police (Jayawijaya resort police)

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to voice its deep concern regarding the deaths of Asli Wenda and Elius Tabuni, indigenous Papuan villagers of Bolakme in the Jayawijaya District in West Papua. 

Between 10am and 5pm on December 1, 2010 in the Bolakme sub-district of Jayawijaya in Papua, Indonesia, the Indonesian military (TNI) and police conducted a joint sweeping operation regarding alleged separatist activities. Two indigenous Papuans, Asli Wenda and Elius Tabuni were shot dead during the operation at 1pm. 

No post mortem examination has yet been conducted as there are no facilities for autopsies in the area and the relatives of the victims do not have the means to travel to the nearest medical doctor to submit the bodies.

We request you to ensure a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Asli Wenda and Elius Tabuni and that the perpetrators will be prosecuted and held accountable according to the serious nature of this human rights violation. We call upon you to facilitate an immediate autopsy of the bodies of the victims.

The Papuan provinces should be demilitarized and a genuine political dialogue initiated between Jakarta and the indigenous Communities to ensure security.

We must point out that the strongest action needs to be taken in accordance with the law to ensure that the use of violence against anyone 'suspected' of anti government actions will be stopped.

We urge you to act swiftly on this case.


Yours sincerely,






1. AKBP I Gede Sumerta, SIK

Head of Jaya Wijaya District Police

(Kepala Kepolisian Resort Jaya Wijaya)

Jl. Sapri Darwin Nomor 1

Jaya Wijaya, Provinsi Papua


Tel: +62 969 3268

Fax: +62 969 31075


2. General of Police Timur Pradopo 

Chief of Indonesian National Police

Jl. Trunojoyo No.3



3. Drs. Bekto. Suprapto. M.Si

Head of Police Area Headquarters Jayapura, Papua province

Jl. Samratulangi No. 8 Jayapura


Tel: + 62 0967 531014

Fax: +62 0967 533763


4. R. Widyopramono SH,M.Hum


Kejaksaan Tinggi Papua

Jl. Anggrek No.6 Tj. Ria Jayapura



5. Drs. Petrus Waine

Director of the Criminal Unit

Papua Regional Police

Jl. Samratulangi

No. 8 Jayapura



6. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono


Republic of Indonesia

Presidential Palace

Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara

Jakarta Pusat 10010


Fax: + 62 21 231 41 38, 345 2685, 345 7782


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Indonesia Desk (indonesia@ahrc.asia)
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.