The People of Tambrauw West Papua Ask: Help Us Say NO to Military Bases in our Communities
Alex McAdams / World BEYOND War and The Action Network
(April 19, 2021) — The government of Indonesia is planning to build a military base (KODIM 1810) in the rural area of Tambrauw West Papua without consultation or permission from the Indigenous landowners who call this land their home. To stop its development, local activists are launching a comprehensive advocacy campaign and they need our help.
The Tambrauw Indigenous Community residents live in safety and peace. There has never been an armed resistance, no armed groups nor any major conflicts have disturbed the security of the State in Tambrauw. More than 90% of the people are traditional farmers or fishermen who depend on the environment for their survival.
Construction of a military base does nothing to meet the growing needs of the community (such as roads, electricity, schools, and hospitals) and instead will only increase violence, exploitation of its people, and devastation of the environment and agriculture. Additionally, it is believed that the purpose of KODIM 1810 is to protect mining interests in the area and not for military defense, which is a violation of the rule of law.
So how can you help?
• Sign the letter campaign to send a message to President Widodo of Indonesia and the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) to reject the KODIM base!
• Make a donation in support of the Indigenous community’s advocacy campaign to stop the construction of the military base on their homeland. With your support, they will hold a Community Conference that will bring together Indigenous elders from across the district to gather and unify opinions of all indigenous peoples in a common political stance.
Due to the rural and remote locations they live in, there is a high expense and much coordination of logistics to gather them in a central location. Their collective position and response will then be conveyed to the Indonesian military (TNI), the Regional Government, as well as the central government in Jakarta, and other parties.
All donations made will be split evenly between the Tambrauw Indigenous community and World BEYOND War to fund our work opposing military bases. Specific expenses for the community include transportation of elders coming from distributed remote areas, food, printing and photocopying of materials, rental of a projector and sound system, and other overhead costs.
And then share the letter campaign with your networks to raise awareness of this egregious violation of the Tambrauw Indigenous people’s land ownership rights. Act now! Flood the Indonesian government’s inboxes with messages to stop this base.
Alex McAdams is the Development Director for World BEYOND War, a global network of volunteers, chapters, and affiliated organizations advocating for the abolition of the institution of war. World BEYOND War, 513 E Main St #1484, Charlottesville, VA 22902 USA
(December 20, 2020) — The local government in Tambrauw has inaugurated the new military district command headquarters (KODIM) in the regency. By doing that, it has ignored ongoing protests by indigenous land rights holders as well as multiple cases of military violence and intimidation against local communities. These have occurred in Tambrauw since the establishment of the new KODIM and a sub-district military command (KORAMIL) in the Kwoor district. A delegation of the Tambrauw Government inaugurated the new KODIM in an official ceremony at the 181 Praja Vira Tama military district command in the city of Sorong on 14 December 2020.
The union of university students from Tambrauw immediately reacted upon the inauguration ceremony. On 15 December 2020, the students organized a peaceful demonstration against the presence of the new KODIM in Tambrauw (see photo on top, source: Suara Papua). According to the students, the local government had approved the establishment of the military base without the free prior informed consent of the indigenous land rights holders.
Indigenous leaders had provided a piece of land to the local government for building an office for the local Transportation Department. However, the local Government handed over the building and land to the military without prior consultation with the indigenous landowners.
The student union demanded the local government to cancel the establishment of the military headquarters immediately. They fear that the massive military presence could trigger an armed conflict with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) in Tambrauw, which has not been affected by the armed clashes in the past decades. If the government continues to remain silent over the matter, the students announced they would organize massive demonstrations in the Fef District which will paralyze all activities in Tambaruw’s administrative centre.
Indigenous communities in Tambrauw widely reject the presence of the new KODIM since multiple cases of military violence and intimidation have taken place since its establishment. According to the Tambrauw student union, the most recent case of intimidation by military members against four indigenous Papuans named Markus Yekwam, Timo Yekwam, Alberthus Yekwam and Willem Yekwam occurred in the Syubun District on 6 December 2020.
The inauguration speech by the military commander, Brigadier General Indra Heri, appeared almost sarcastic given the repeated incidents of violence in Tambrauw. “We expect that the KODIM in Tambrauw will have a positive contribution to the people and the government in bringing upon progress for the development of the region,” said Heri during the ceremony.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.