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Brief description:
Theys Hiyo Eluay was a Papuan leader who had once collaborated closely with the Indonesian government, but later led Papuan indigenous groups raising the right to self-determination before the international community. On November 10, 2001, he was killed while riding home with soldiers from a function at the regional headquarters of Kopassus, the Indonesian Special Forces Command. Soon after, his driver, Aristoteles Masoka, went to report to the Kopassus post and has not been seen since.

Time: 10-11-2001

Location: Jayapura, prov. Papua

Rights violated:

  • right to life
  • right not to be disappeared


  • Theys Eluay
  • Aristoteles Masoka

Chain of events:


Under pressure from Papuan organizations and human rights groups, then President Megawati established the National Investigation Commission (KPN). Although members of Papuan and national civil society were included in the commission, the chair was a retired police officer and one member was an army major general. From its inception human rights groups regarded the KPN with skepticism, particularly as its mandate obstructed inquiries by Komnas HAM that could have led to prosecutions in the human rights courts. In its April 2002 report to President Megawati, the KPN found six “rogue” military officials responsible for the murder and concluded that gross human rights violations did not occur. The investigation’s focus never went higher than a lieutenant colonel, Tri Hartomo, despite allegations that the killing was ordered or planned by more senior officials. (ICTJ - KontraS, Derailed, 2011)


 A year later (2003), a military tribunal found seven Kopassus members guilty of mistreatment and battery—but not murder—and issued relatively light sentences of two to three and a half years. The findings of the KPN were never widely disseminated, and those convicted remained in the military.


Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu reacted to the verdict by saying, “The law says they are guilty. OK, they’re punished. But for me, they are heroes.” (“Jenderal Ryamizard: Pembunuh Theys Hiyo Eluay Adalah Pahlawan”, Tempointeractif 23-04-2003)

Despite his conviction, Lt. Col. Hartomo was promoted to Group-1/Parako commander, a senior post in the Kopassus leadership. In March 2010, after NGOs publicized his promotion, he was transferred out of Kopassus, but not dismissed from the military.  (“Kopassus Mutasi Sejumlah Perwira Menengah”, March 15, 2010). See also Usman Hamid, “No Justice, No Aid to Kopassus!”, Jakarta Post, October 30, 2010.