1The Life and Death of a Papua - Martyr And Hero, TheysHiyoEluayIntroductionThere was always some ambiguity in the role of...
2contrary. The government had dome everything it could to block any real expression of opinion.At all the regencies petiti...
3and now also the Leader of the Papuans and as such he was part of the small and select groupof the most powerful in the p...
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Theys Eluay Martyr and Hero

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Analysis of Theys Eluay,and his role in the struggle for independence in West Papua. Theys Eluay was killed by Kopassus in 2001. On his death he became a Papuan hero and martyr.

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Theys Eluay Martyr and Hero

  1. 1. 1The Life and Death of a Papua - Martyr And Hero, TheysHiyoEluayIntroductionThere was always some ambiguity in the role of TheysHiyoEluay. He clearly had a backgroundof co-operation with the Indonesians. In his home area, Sentani, he did not have a large amountof support as the memories were still vivid of the largew number of people killed through hisintervention with the Indonesian army. Some victims of his role before and after the Act of FreeChoice (Pepera) of 1969 are still in hiding in PNG.The struggle of the Papuans for freedom and independence came fully into the open with thefall of Soeharto. Habibie had soon after taking over as President promised East-Timor areferendum. The Papuans were promised a “dialogue.” TheysEluay played a minor role in thesefirst public efforts of political mobilization of the Papuan people. His day came after the massmobilization of the Papuans had already taking place, in the form of a “dialogue” and the“socialization”of this dialogue. In February 1999 a Team of One Hundred, led by Thom Beanal,went to Habibie and asked for independence for the Papuan people.Only after the rise of Thom BeanalTheys appointed himself to Great Leader of the PapuanPeopleor also Great Leader of West-Papua. There was then always the suspicion that hisconversion from Red-White (Indonesian Nationalist) to a Papuan Freedom fighter was notsincere, but that he was manipulated by the army and by the kopassus. Up to the eveningwhere he met his death Theys was very close o the army, police and kopassus commanders.However, by his violent death he clearly redeemed himself. He was now in the line of otherPapuan martyrs like Arnold Ap, and ThomansWangayWhatever the motivation of his murderers it is difficult to imagine that they anticipated the massmobilization after his death and at his funeral. The worldwide media attention for his murder.The setting up of several investigation teams and the open acknowledgement that all theevidence pointed to the Kopassus as the murders of TheysEluay and to all probability also hisdriver.BackgroundTheysEluay was educated in the Advanced Primary School (Jongensvervolgschool) of Yoka,Sentani, He followed then a course in meteorology and worked as a meteorologist assistant. Heis from the Sere village and comes from a family of traditional leaders (ondoafi). He becameondoafi, probably because of his relatively advanced education, though he was not entitled tothe responsibility as it follows a strict order of seniority. In After 1963, when Indonesia tried toeliminate Papua protest against its integration into Indonesia, Theys assisted the Indonesianarmy in pointing out people who were pro-Dutch and/or ant-Indonesian. These caused, in thesmaal community of Sentani people (at that time probably around 15,000) a large number ofvictims. Theys was a member of the small number of Papuans selected to vote for integrationwith Indonesia in 1969. He helped to conduct a campaign in favour of a positive vote. Most ofthe Sentani people at that time did not agree with what Theys was doing. In 1971 he became amember of the “gotongroyong” (co-operation) parliament. By 1980 the influence of Theys hadalready declined, which made him feel frustrated. He then joined the LembagaMusyawarahAdatPapua, translated as the Papuan Customary Council Assembly, first of the Sentani area, then ofthe province. In 1990 he became chairman of this Council. Only in 1996 this Council becamemore politicised, with its highpoint in the period 1998-2002..The role of Theys in the freedom struggle since 1998The rise of TheysEluay started soon after the Team of One Hundred had gone to Jakarta andhad publicly announced, with not a single dissenting vote, that the result of the dialogue,initiated by Habibie was that the Papuans wanted to be free. This had not been planned. On the
  2. 2. 2contrary. The government had dome everything it could to block any real expression of opinion.At all the regencies petitions had already been prepared that the religious leaders, the leadersof adat (traditional law) and the leaders of society humbly would ask Habibie to divide theprovince into three parts in order to be governed more effectively. It would also mean that fortwo Papuans a position as a provincial governor would be made available. The population gotthe wind of this and they demanded everywhere that this letter would not be send, but anotherletter instead which demanded freedom/independence. They demanded that the regent (bupati)or the head of police in the districts (kecamatan) would sign the letter too and that he wouldstamp it with the official government stamp. This was the first time the people came out into theopen with their opinion with disregard of the consequences for their personal safety. They justsigned these petitions with their name and function. Not long before this, the ones signing suchstatements would get dismissed, imprisoned or worse. People no longer were afraid as theysaw the offer of dialogue as their last chance to gain their freedom.Part of this mobilization as done by an ad-hoc organization, Foreri, which took up the offer ofHabibie. Foreri, the Forum Rekonsiliasi Rakyat Irian Jaya, was an initiative of church leaders,who were joined by the adat leaders, and the student and women organizations. Theys wasone of the adat leaders, together with Tom Beanal and Gaspar Sibi. Theys, it seems, was onlyasked to give the requests of Foreri some legitimacy. This was the Trinity of ordebaruism:society, i. e. women and students (tokohmasyarakat or tomas), the adat leaders (tokohadat ortodat) and religion (tokoh agama or togas) As chairman of the Papuan Customary CouncilAssembly Theys’ support was off course important to augment the legitimacy of the activities ofForeri in mobilizing the people to express their opinion freely.Theys took initially a conservative viewpoint. He considered it too extreme to ask forindependence. He did not join the Team of One Hundred. This changed, however, when theTeam came back to Papua in triumph. They were the heroes. The delegate of Serui, YusufTanawani, was carried on the shoulders of people all the way form the harbour till the assemblyhall, where he explained to enthusiastic masses what had been achieved. Independence wasimmanent. All this was completely ignored by the only province wide daily, the CendrawasihPos. It is published by JawaPos, but with a control by the army. In almost in every issue there isnews about some events in the army and police complete with a number of picture of thesedignatatries in uniform. There is much reporting on events in the army and police, like transfers,promotions or just opinions. C-Poshs hardly any any Papuans as journalists. The focus is on themigrants. When the Team of One Hundred had made its point to HabibieCendrawasihPos daredto ignore this fact, but instead interview one Pauan, who had nothing to do with the Team orwith Foreri, who explained that he was not in favour of autonomy. This seemd very ridiculousand the apper lost all credibility. That was the time that TheysEluay, Don Flassy and twostudents were arrested charged with organizing a meeting to discuss Papuan independence.When Theys was freed after a week he appeared on the frontpage of the CendrawasihPos witha picture, stating that West Papau did not need to ask for Independence as it had beenindependent all the way since 1 December 1961. Independence had illegally been usurped byIndonesia. It had just to be given back. The contrast with the previous editorial policy could nothave been greater. This reporting definitely increased the circulation of Cendrawasih Pos. It wasnow only Theys who appeared in the paper. Other leaders in the struggle, like Tom Beanal orHerman Awom hardly appeared. There were weeks that Theys appeared almost every day witha picture on the frontpage. “Theys is weeping”, Theys is angry or rather “wrathful” (murka),Theys is sick and had to go to Singapore, “Straightaway friends” (after fetching the new militarycommander from the airport in Sentani!). This increased Theys’ popularity. He had the courage(or was given the opportunity) to say things other people were afraid to say in the open. All thetime Theys remained very close to the top of the security apparatus. He was the adat leader
  3. 3. 3and now also the Leader of the Papuans and as such he was part of the small and select groupof the most powerful in the province.Theys was a self-appointed leader. He got much of his support because of the publicity C Posgave him. He called himself Great Leader of the Papuan People or also the Great Leader ofWest Papua. In February 2000 there was a large gathering of Papuans in a so-calledMusyawarahBesar to discuss the future of West Papua and to determine a strategay of thestruggle. By this time the army made overtures to the OPM. There was o be a dialogiuebetween the Indonesian army and the OPM. These were from now on free to go where theywanted. The OPM was also present at the Mubes, which took place in Sentani Indah Hotel. Bythat time Theys had already formed a large group of so called Taskforce (Satgas) Papua. Thesewere responsible for the security at the Mubes. Though a majority at the Mubes was in favourof Tom as chairman of the movement, with the great number of satgas close to the place wherethe meeting was held, Theys could definitely not be ignored. A compromise was struck and bothbecame “Great Leader of the Papuan People”. At the follow up of this Mubes the Congress orrather the Second Papuan Congress, the first was held in 1961, Theys stood up at thebeginning of the meeting and said: “I am the chairman, is not it, Tom, while you are the vicechairman?” Tom did not want a quarrel at the beginning of such a crucial meeting where veryconflicting opinions about the strategy had to be accommodated and the unity of the movementhad to preserved at all costs. The Congress took place in May – June 2000, just to rememberthe first of May 1963 when Indonesia came in full control of West Papua, after the UNTEAperiod. The PDP or Presidium Dewan Papua, elected at the Congress of 2000 is fairlyrepresentative if we look to its composition with people from Biak, Sentani, Paniai, Merauke,FakFak and Wamena present. Also various churches, mainline protestant, evangelical andRoman Catholic, and even the Islam is represented.The PDP formed a group which the local and the national government and the heads of armyand police were prepared to take seriously as they were recognized as representatives of thePapuans in general, when dealing with issues as public security, the issue of the raising of theIndependence flag, illegal demonstrations etc. In this way the PDP was given a considerablelegitimacy. At the same time as the new government, and especially the new president Gus Dur,was building up a relationship of trust with the PDP, the army reacted with aggressiveness andviolence on the raising of the Morningstar flag in the various districts and regencies. Each timethere was a considerable number of deaths. Papuans began to speak about Bloody Biak,Bloody Timika, Bloody Sorong, Bloody Nabire etc.As chairman of the PDP Theys was not known for consulting his fellow PDP members. Usuallythey had to read in the papers what Theys was doing on behalf of the PDP and by extension thePapuan people. For one PDP member, Benny Giay from Paniai, this became too much tostomach when without consultation Theys honoured the departing commander of the army byelevating him to the rank of “Great Warrior of the Papuans.” Papuans from the highlands saidthat they objected to raise funds and pigs for somebody who had a reputation of killingPapuans, as in the many incidents mentioned above. Benny Giay, who originates from Paniai,left the PDP saying that he was now too busy at the college, where he works as a lecturer.Moreover there hardly had been any meetings of the PDP.Whatever his shortcomings or his real motivations by his violent death by those he at one timein his life may have considered his friends he immediately became an icon in the continuingstruggle of Papuans against an oppressive Government.

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