Secret documents have leaked from inside Kopassus, Indonesia’s red berets, which say that Indonesia’s US-backed security forces engage in “murder [and] abduction” and show that Kopassus targets churches in West Papua and defines civilian dissidents as the “enemy.”
The documents include a Kopassus enemies list headed by Papua’s top Baptist minister and describe a covert network of surveillance, infiltration and disruption of Papuan institutions
The disclosure comes as US President Barack Obama is touching down in Indonesia. His administration recently announced the restoration of US aid to Kopassus.
Kopassus is the most notorious unit of Indonesia’s armed forces, TNI, which along with POLRI, the national police, have killed civilians by the hundreds of thousands.
The leaked cache of secret Kopassus documents includes operational, intelligence and field reports as well as personnel records which list the names and details of Kopassus “agents.”
The documents are classified “SECRET” (“RAHASIA”) and include extensive background reports on Kopassus civilian targets — reports that are apparently of uneven accuracy.
The authenticity of the documents has been verified by Kopassus personnel who have seen them and by external evidence regarding the authors and the internal characteristics of the documents.
Some of the Kopassus documents will be released in the days to come, in part via my website.
Those being released with this article concern West Papua, where tens of thousands of civilians have been murdered and where Kopassus is most active. Jakarta has attempted to largely seal off Papua to visits by non-approved outsiders.
When the US restored Kopassus aid last July the rationale was fighting terrorism, but the documents show that Kopassus in fact systematically targets civilians.
A detailed 25-page secret report by a Kopassus task force in Kotaraja, Papua defines Kopassus’ number-one “enemy” as unarmed civilians. It calls them the “separatist political movement” “GSP/P, ” lists what they say are the top 15 leaders and discusses the “enemy order of battle.”
All of those listed are civilians, starting with the head of the Baptist Synod of Papua. The others include evangelical ministers, activists, traditional leaders, legislators, students and intellectuals as well as local establishment figures and the head of the Papua Muslim Youth organization.
The secret Kopassus study says that in their 400,000 – person area of operations the civilians they target as being political are “much more dangerous than” any armed opposition since the armed groups “hardly do anything” but the civilians — with popular support — have “reached the outside world” with their “obsession” with “merdeka” (independence/ freedom) and persist in “propagating the issue of severe human rights violations in Papua,” ie. “murders and abductions that are done by the security forces.”
Given that the Kopassus report states as settled fact that security forces do “murder, abduction,” those who they define as being the enemy can be presumed to be in some danger.
In its discussion of “State of the enemy” Kopassus identifies the enemy with two kinds of actions: “the holding of press conferences” where they “always criticize the government and the work being done by the security forces” and the holding of private meetings where they engage in the same kind of prohibited speech.
The Kopassus “enemies” list — the “leaders” of the “separatist political movement” includes fifteen civic leaders. In the order listed by Kopassus they are:
— Reverend Socrates Sofyan Yoman, chair of the Papua Baptist Synod
— Markus Haluk head of the Association of Indonesian Middle Mountains Students (AMPTI) and an outspoken critic of the security forces and the US mining giant Freeport McMoRan;
— Buchtar Tabuni, an activist who, after appearing on the Kopassus list, was sentenced to three years prison for speech and for waving Papuan flags and was beaten bloody by three soldiers, a guard, and a policeman because he had a cell phone;
— Aloysius Renwarin, a lawyer who heads a local human rights foundation;
— Dr. Willy Mandowen, Mediator of PDP, the Papua Presidium Council, a broad group including local business people, former politcal prisoners, women’s and youth organizations, and Papuan traditional leaders. His most prominent predecessor, Theys Eluay, had his throat slit by Kopassus in 2001;
— Yance Kayame, a committee chair in the Papuan provincial legislature;
— Lodewyk Betawi;
— Drs. Don Agustinus Lamaech Flassy of the Papua Presidium Council staff
— Drs. Agustinus Alue Alua, head of the MRP, the Papuan People’s Council, which formally represents Papuan traditional leaders and was convened and recognized by the Jakarta government;
— Thaha Al Hamid, Secretary General of the Papua Presidium Council;
— Sayid Fadal Al Hamid, head of the Papua Muslim Youth;
— Drs. Frans Kapisa, head of Papua National Student Solidarity;
— Leonard Jery Imbiri, public secretary of DAP, the Papuan Customary Council, which organizes an annual plenary of indigenous groups, has staged Papua’s largest peaceful demonstrations, and has seen its offices targeted for clandestine arson attacks;
— Reverend Dr. Beny Giay, minister of the Protestant evangelical KINGMI Tent of scripture church of Papua;
— Selfius Bobby, student at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology.
Reached for comment, Reverend Socrates Sofyan Yoman of the Baptist Synod laughed when told he headed the Kopassus list. He said that churches were targeted by TNI/ Kopassus because “We can’t condone torture, kidnapping or killing.” He said that he has received anonymous death threats “all the time, everywhere,” but that as a church leader he must endure it . He said the real problem was for Papua’s poor who “live daily in pressure and fear.”
Markus Haluk said that he is constantly followed on foot and by motorcycle, has been the subject of apparent attempts to kill him, and receives so many sms text death threats that he has difficulty keeping current with the death-threat archive he tries to maintain for historical and safety purposes.
One threat, written months after his name appeared as a target in the Kopassus documents, promised to decapitate him and bury his head 200 meters deep, while another imagined his head as a succulent fruit to be devoured and swallowed by security forces.
But as a famous figure in Papua, Haluk enjoys, he thinks, a certain kind of protection since when security forces have actually arrested him it has at times touched off street uprisings.
Village Papuans, he said, enjoy no such advantage. For them, being targeted by Kopassus “can get you killed. If there’s a report against you, you can die.”
Contacted in prison, Buctar Tabuni, the number three enemy on the Kopassus list, told of getting a death threat with a rat cadaver, described living with round-the-clock surveillance, and said the threats to him repeatedly stated that “you will be killed unless you stop your human rights activities.”
Three days ago, writing from his prison cell, Buctar Tabuni called on President Obama to cut off aid to TNI and back a democratic vote on Papuan independence. He told me that Indonesia follows the US lead and that the US was complicit since, as he wrote Obama, US-trained “troops in cities and villages all over West Papua treat the people like terrorists that must be exterminated.”
Anti-terrorism was indeed Obama’s main argument for restoring US aid to Kopassus, but the documents make clear that Kopassus mainly targets unarmed civilians, not killers.
In fact, the main unit that wrote the secret documents, SATGAS BAN – 5 KOPASSUS, is ostensibly doing anti-terrorism, with the Kopassus Unit 81, Gultor.
Obama justified the Kopassus aid restoration to Congress by saying that the initial US training would be given not to Kopassus as a whole but only to its anti-terror forces. The White House and Pentagon suggested that these forces were less criminal than the rest of Kopassus and of TNI/POLRI, but the documents establish that they, like the rest, go after civilians like the Papuan reverends and activists.
Reverend Giay said, when reached for comment that TNI, Kopassus and POLRI were making the case that “it’s OK to kill pastors and burn churches since the churches are separatist.”
Among Giay’s collection of anonymous sms death threats was a political missive demanding that “the reverend stop using the platform of the church to spread the ideology of free Papua.”
Giay said that “they need ideological and moral support from the Indonesian majority and the media” so they use Kopassus and others to attack the churches as constituting security threats.
He compared TNI/Kopassus actions in Papua now to those earlier in East Timor and the Malukus where “they created this conflict between Muslims and Christians” to expand their presence and get more money and power.
Reverend Giay said that “local pastors have been targeted. They kill them off and report them as separatists.”
The Kopassus documents boast that “in carrying out the operational mission of intelligence in the kotaraja area, we apportion work in order to cover all places and avenues of kotaraja society.”
The files show that Kopassus indeed penetrates most every part of
popular life. In addition to plainclothes Kopassus officers who go undercover in multiple roles, Kopassus fields a small army of non-TNI “agents” — real people with real lives and identities, who are bought, coerced or recruited into working covertly.
Kopassus Kotaraja area agents discussed in the secret personnel files include reporters for a local newspaper and for a national TV news channel, students, hotel staff, a court employee, a senior civil servant who works on art and culture, a 14 year old child, a broke, “emotional, drunken” farmer who needs money and “believes” that Kopassus will “take care of his safety,” a “hardworking” “emotionally stable” farmer who also is a need of funds, a worker who “likes to drink hard liquor,” is poor and “likes to believe things,” a motorcycle taxi driver, a cellphone kiosk clerk who watches people who buy SIM card numbers, and a driver for a car rental company who “frequently informs on whether there are elements from the Separatist Political Movement who hire rental cars and speak regarding independence/freedom (merdeka).”
In the file, though, the word “merdeka” is not spelled out. In accord with Kopassus practice, only an initial is written, in quotation marks: “‘M'”, the unwritable, unspeakable M-word.
The documents support the longtime word on the street: you rarely know who is Kopassus. So best watch what you say if you care for safety, especially if what you say is “freedom.”
ALLAN NAIRN is a journalist living in Indonesia.