About Me

Eben Kirksey has published two books with Duke University Press—Freedom in Entangled Worlds (2012) and Emergent Ecologies (2015)—as well as one edited collection: The Multispecies Salon (2014). He was Princeton University's 2015-2016 Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor, where he was researching and writing a new book. Currently he is an Australian Research Council Fellow and the incoming Disciplinary Convener (Chair) of the Environmental Humanities program at UNSW Australia in Sydney.


EDUCATION
Ph.D. 2008 UC Santa Cruz
M.Phil. 2003 University of Oxford
B.A. 2000 New College of Florida

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Indonesian President Covered Up Ambush Murder of U.S. Citizens

Previously secret U.S. State Department documents implicate the President of Indonesia in a probable cover-up of an ambush in West Papua. The documents show Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is running for reelection on July 8, maneuvering behind the scenes to manage the investigation into the August 2002 murder of three teachers—one Indonesian and two U.S. citizens.

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:

1) Response by the State Department and the FBI to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

2) Initial Reports About Attackers; Yudhoyono Orders a Quick Response

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.

3) Attack Victims Treated in Secrecy at Australian Hospital

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.

4) Yudhoyono Assumes Coordinating Role in Investigation

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.

5) Commander-In-Chief Concerned About Washington Post Interview

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.

6) Most Important Issue in U.S.-Indonesia Bilateral Relationship

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.

7) Attorney General Ashcroft Suppressed Evidence

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.

Select Publications

Select Publications


KIRKSEY, S. E. (2015) "Species: A Praxiographic Study" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 21, 758-780.


KIRKSEY, S. E. (2014) The Multispecies Salon, Duke University Press: Durham.


KIRKSEY, S. E. (2013) “Interspecies Love” in Lanjouw and Corbey (eds) The Politics of Species (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 164-77.


KIRKSEY, S. E., N. Shapiro, M. Brodine (2013) "Hope in Blasted Landscapes" Social Science Information, 52 (2): 228-256.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2013 “A Messianic Multiple: West Papua, July 1998” in Bryan Turner (ed.) War and Peace: Essays on Religion and Violence (Anthem Press), pp. 37-59.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2012 "Living with Parasites in Palo Verde National Park" Environmental Humanities, 1: 23-55.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2012 "Thneeds Reseeds: Figures of Biocultural Hope in the Anthropocene" in G. Martin, D. Mincyte, and U. M√ľnster (eds.) Why Do We Value Diversity? Rachel Carson Perspectives vol 9: 89-94.


KIRKSEY, S. E. 2012 Freedom in Entangled Worlds, Duke University Press: Durham.


KIRKSEY, S. E. & S. HELMREICH. 2010 "The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography", Cultural Anthropology, 25 (4): 545-576. Full Special Issue (48.8 MB)

In the News

In September 2010 Eben testified before the U.S. Congress about massacres in West Papua.


He joined Indonesian investigative reporter Andreas Harsono in 2008 to publish "Criminal Collaborations", a peer-reviewed article about Indonesian military involvement in the murder of two Americans. This research started a lively discussion in the Indonesian media and sparked a series of media articles in publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! invited Eben to discuss this research on her news show.