Elly Togodly, a Koteka elder who understands and supports the Alliance of Papuan Students
Elly Togodly, a Koteka elder who understands and supports the Alliance of Papuan Students Elly Togodly, a Junior Elder of the Walak (Koteka) Tribe of the Koteka Region, a clan from Togodly-Nggombo, was not interested in the issue of Papuan struggle for identity and dignity at the beginning.
As a headmaster of primary school in his village, he was not involved and refused to get into political activities during 1998-2000, when almost all Papuans were actively involved in flag-raising, Papua National Congress and demonstrations. He began speaking for his youths (The Alliance of Papuan Students – AMP) when he saw Theys Eluay; the Tribal Elder from Sentani Tribe and Chair of Papua Presidium Council (PDP) was kidnapped and assassinated brutally on 11 November 2001.
He felt himself threatened by this brutal and barbaric act to one of the elders in West Papua because as an elder, he shared the sorrow and suffering caused by the incident. He started by funding the publication of the book by AMP on the incident, and he is now sponsoring publications of other books, papers and websites (Melanesia News Online, West Papua News Online – under the umbrella of West Papua News Group).
He also left his modern carrier as the primary school teacher and began his activities as the tribal elder. Since two years ago, he began sponsoring various AMP activities, which he regards as the future leaders of West Papua, who need support from the elders today. After publishing the book on Theys, he is now sponsoring publication of another controversial book on Special Autonomy Package for West Papua on the International Political Rhetoric.
Elly is also an elder who challenges the Indonesian authorities by his doings, not by his words. His active support to the activities of the Koteka Tribal Assembly (Demmak) and the AMP has brought about significant. He has been seen as the figure of Koteka Tribes all over West Papua in the last two years.
This is, of course, seen as a threat to the control and power of the Indonesian authorities. He has been threatened a number of times. The last one was after the attack on the armoury in Wamena on 04 April 2003. The letter of order to arrest him was released and sent to him, but a day later, the police in Wamena cancelled the interview with him saying that it was an error in typing. Background Arrest and murder of Papuan Tribal Elders have been happening since Indonesia began to occupy West Papua.
During the Act of Free Choice Operations (1961-1969), tribal elders, including Theys Eluay were threatened to be killed if they chose other than integration with Indonesia. Some elders were excluded from their community since Indonesia occupied West Papua, regarded as rebel leaders, including the Commander in Chief of Liberation Army of Free Papua Movement (TPN/OPM), Gen TPN PB Mathias Wenda and other commanders such as Gen TPN PB Titus Murib, Gen TPN PB Kelly Kwalik, and Maj Gen TPN PB Silas Kogoya.
Tribal Elders in West Papua are the defenders and protectors of the rights of the people, and what these elders have been doing so far are just that. Papuans do remember well that their elders are the most vulnerable targets of the occupying authorities. They know enough examples to justify their worry. Tribal elders, as protectors and defenders of the peoples’ rights, are culturally, the ones who will speak out whatever they think and know it is right to say and do for their tribes and clans. They will do so without hesitance or fear. To die for their tribes/ clans is regarded one of the responsibilities of the elders. Among the Koteka Tribes, we have stories of elders being killed, tortured and disappeared. The torture and assassination of Yani Yikwa (1980s), the torture and Assassination of Yakup Yikwa (1980), the kidnapping as well as continuous hunting operations against Mathias Wenda, Kelly Kwalik and Titus Murib have taught new lessons to the people that Indonesian occupation in West Papua so far has been designed to kill Papuan elders and replace them with new leaders who they recruit. The assassinations of Yusup Tanawani (Serui), Yafeth Yelemaken (Grand Valley Lani) and Theys Eluay (Sentani) recently have shown indications that the occupying authorities actively involved in ethnic cleansing policy.
Intimidating, terrorizing, arresting and killing the elders have been effective methods to put pressures on the Papuan people when they speak out for their fundamental rights for identity and dignity. Since the launch of Special Autonomy Package in 2003, and Adil Matoa Operation (2002) to secure the implementation of the Autonomy Package by force throughout West Papua, a series of intimidation, terror and murder carried out and West Papua has seen deteriorating situation due to these. To worsen the situation, various groups of militia troops have been active lately, to intimidate and terrorise the villagers.