The documents released today add a new twist to a hotly contested Presidential race.
Selections from these documents are published here in seven distinct sections:
The first State Department reports about the 2002 attack seriously entertained two theories: that the perpetrators were Papuan independence fighters (OPM guerillas) or rogue elements of the Indonesian military. The documents note that the assault took place on a foggy mountain road near a military checkpoint and an Army Strategic Reserve Forces post. Upon learning of the attack, Yudhoyono ordered a quick response to restore security and to investigate the attack.
The U.S. Embassy noted in a cable to Washington: ”Many Papuan groups are calling for an independent investigation led by the U.S. Calls for an independent probe are unrealistic, but we believe that Papua's Police Chief, who enjoys a good reputation with Papuan activists (and U.S.), can conduct a fair investigation.” The Police Chief’s investigation later indicated that the Indonesian military was involved. The FBI subsequently launched a separate probe.
The survivors of the assault were airlifted out of Indonesia to a hospital in Townsend, Australia. Here U.S. diplomats, the FBI, Queensland Police, and the Australian Defense Force kept a tight lid on the situation—preventing the victims from speaking with the press and even from contacting family members for the first two days. See: Tom Hyland, “Lost in the Fog," The Age, September 28, 2008.
Following police reports of Indonesian military involvement, these documents reveal that Yudhoyono began to play a more active role in managing and influencing the direction of the investigation. Yudhoyono met repeatedly with the FBI field investigators, as well as high-level U.S. diplomats, blocking their initial attempts to gain unmediated access to witnesses and material evidence. This file includes a letter from Yudhoyono to the Charge D'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy where he outlines a strategy for managing the broader political and security aspects of the incident.
The Washington Post reported in 2002 that senior Indonesian military officers, including armed forces commander General Endriartono Sutarto, had discussed an unspecified operation against Freeport McMoRan before the ambush in Timika. General Sutarto vehemently denied that he or any other top military officers had discussed any operation targeting Freeport. He sued The Washington Post for US$1 billion and demanded an apology from the paper. Several months after this lawsuit was settled out of court, The Washington Post asked to interview Sutarto. This document contains notes from a meeting between the U.S. Ambassador and Commander-in-Chief Sutarto where this interview request was discussed: “Clearly concerned, General Sutarto asked why the Washington Post wanted to interview him, as well as TNI’s Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) Chiefs regarding the Timika case.” See: Ellen Nakashima and Alan Sipress “Indonesia Military Allegedly Talked of Targeting Mine," The Washington Post, November 3, 2002.
The U.S. Ambassador stressed in a June 2003 meeting with Yudhoyono that justice in the Timika killings was “the most important issue in the bilateral relationship.” During this period, FBI agents were given intermittent access to evidence. Yudhoyono continued to play an active role in coordinating the political aspects of the investigation. Taking an unusual personal interest for someone with a Ministerial level position, Yudhoyono repeatedly met with the FBI case agents — the low-ranking U.S. investigators who were deployed to Timika for field investigations.
On June 24, 2005, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that Antonius Wamang, an ethnic Papuan, was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for the Timika murders. The indictment alleged that Wamang was a “terrorist” who sought independence from Indonesia. Following this announcement, three respected human rights groups and indigenous organizations charged that the U.S. Government suppressed evidence linking Wamang to the Indonesian military. A peer-reviewed article, titled “Criminal Collaborations: Antonius Wamang and the Indonesian Military in Timika," details the nature of these links. The group called for Wamang to be given a fair trial in the U.S., rather than in notoriously corrupt Indonesian courts. See: Eben Kirksey and Andreas Harsono, “Criminal Collaborations," South East Asia Research, vol 16, no 2.