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Freedom of Expression

July 19, 2019

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Submission to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry

Media Freedom in West Papua

In June 2019, TAPOL and Jubi made a written submission to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. The Commons Select Committee has opened up an inquiry into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Global Media Freedom. TAPOL and Jubi’s submission highlighted the current state of media freedom in West Papua in particular. Over the last 10 years, journalists and news organisations have faced serious threats to their personal security, as well as being targeted by digital disinformation campaigns that aimed to disrupt the work of legitimate news sources and reporting. The death of two local journalists, assaults on multiple others and several cases of international journalists being deported from Indonesia for reporting on or in West Papua underscores the lack of media freedom in West Papua.

To read the full submission please click here ( TAPOL and Jubi Written evidence June 2019). The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry on FCO and Global Media Freedom is still open. If you wish to make your own submission, you can do so by following the instructions here ( The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Global Media Freedom Inquiry).

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Summary of events in West Papua (17 June -7 July 2019)

July 16, 2019

AWPA update
Summary of events in West Papua (17 June -7 July 2019)
The region
Support for West Papua cause always important to Vanuatu

Vanuatu Daily Post Jul 2, 2019

The plight of West Papuans as Melanesian citizens is an important issue that Vanuatu must continue to support. Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu, made this clear in his keynote address yesterday to all Vanuatu’s Heads of Missions (HOM) who are currently in the capital for the 3-day 8th HOM meeting. “The human rights violation and marginalization of Melanesian West Papuans is not a secret and we must continue to advocate for appropriate international attention to this situation,” he said. “The incredible show of Pacific Island solidarity is a landmark moment in the West Papuan struggle for self-determination.” The minister reflected that when he attended the 49th Forum Leaders Meeting in Nauru with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, new priority regional policies were adopted by Leaders. These include regional security, climate change and disaster resilience, fisheries and oceans, childhood obesity and non-communicable diseases, and West Papua. It is anticipated that these issues will also form the basis for discussions at this year’s Forum………

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Indonesia is a cancer on the humanity of the Pacific

July 16, 2019

An opinion piece by Yamin Kogoya

More than 50 years of torture has been inflicted on the Papuan people by the Indonesian Government. With the assistance of Western governments, great fear has been put in the hearts and minds of people across the Pacific. These terrors have become cancerous tumours in the body of the peaceful Pacific island community.
Indonesia’s Pacific 2019 exposition in Auckland last week (12-13 July), was another calculating deception pulled by Jakarta’s elites, in order to cure this cancer. But Indonesians failed to recognise that this malignance cannot be removed by a mere trade talk with the people of the Pacific islands. This cannot be cured merely by bringing a few Pacific diplomats to attend a weekend event, such as the one organised by Indonesia in Auckland last week. The Indonesian Government might be successful in making friends with a few Pacific leaders through their diplomatic networks, but they will not win the hearts and minds of scores of communities across Oceania. …………….

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Nationalist groups backed by police break up Biak massacre commemoration in Bali

July 15, 2019

Teras Bali News – July 6, 2019

Denpasar — A commemoration of 21 years since the "Bloody Biak Tragedy" in West Papua by the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) in the Balinese provincial capital of Denpasar on Saturday July 6 has ended in chaos.

The action was forcibly broken up by pecalang (Balinese traditional security guards) and the groups Garuda Nusantara Patriots (PGN) and the Defenders of the Motherlands Unity (Pekat) Indonesia Unite.

"You shouldn’t create a scene here, Bali is a tourist area which needs peace and quiet", one of the Pekat members shouted at the protesters at the Renon Park East Bajra Sandhi parking area in Denpasar.

The situation became heated with the AMP protesters resisted with the opposing groups pushing and shoving each other. Police, who had been guarding the action from the start appealed to all the parties to restrain themselves.

The protesters had initially planned to continue the demonstration at the Denpasar Renon traffic circle, not far from the US Consulate. But after being forcibly broken up, the action ended up being held at the East Bajra Sandhi parking area.

Denpasar municipal police operations commander I Wayan Gatra explained that this was not the first time that the AMP has held protests and their demands were not very different from previous actions.

"If in relation to the law on expressing a view they have actually violated it, under Paragraph 6 point 5, it’s prohibited to articulate what’s called anti-unity, there must be NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] there. Seeing this, we the police were able to act firmly", said Gatra. (awd)


Biak Massacre — On July 6, 1998, in Biak Island’s main town, Indonesian military units launched a dawn attack on Papuans who had been staging peaceful demonstrations over several days. Some were shot on the spot while many others were taken onto Indonesian naval boats and thrown into the ocean before their mutilated bodies washed up on Biak’s shores over following days.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Unjuk Rasa Mahasiswa Papua

INDOLEFT News service.

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West Papuan Independence And The Australian Perspective

July 13, 2019

West Papuan Independence And The Australian Perspective

12 Jul, 2019 in Australia / Oceania by Zac Williams (updated 1 day ago)

The West Papuan independence movement has been ongoing for more than half a century. Since the 1962-1963 Indonesian takeover of West Papuan territory, West Papuans have endured political and social persecution, without any substantial help from the international community. This piece will look specifically at the relationship between West Papua and Australian foreign policy.

A Movement Both Enduring and Unpublicized

In the region of West Papua, a sectarian conflict between the Indonesian government and West Papuan nationalists is ongoing, with the nationalists seeking independence and self-determination from Indonesia. Colonialism and West Papua have been intertwined throughout Indonesia’s contemporary history as it was formerly a Dutch colony. This is the root of political complexity in the region and one of the major rationales for the Indonesian invasion and official annexation in 1969, who then inflicted their own form of colonization, and West Papua once again became an object of domination, a situation that persists. According to Al Jazeera, in the last month alone, approximately 35,000 civilians have been forced from their homes as Indonesian security forces attempt to flush out the rebels from the forested mountains, and amid rising tensions the three main armed separatist groups in West Papua have joined forces to intensify their push for independence. Among the West Papuan population, there has been widespread disenfranchisement since the 1969 annexation; the independence movement has endured since then while at the same time being actively prevented a platform by the Indonesian government.

In order to decipher the current issue, it is essential to understand the historical context from the perspective of both sides. For the Indonesian government, Indonesian territory is based upon Dutch colonial territory. Therefore, they see West Papua historically and legally as an intrinsic aspect of the former colony and therefore modern Indonesia; the fact that the existing state is culturally heterogeneous should not prevent the union of people as one nation state. This is supported by an established principle of international law, uti possidetis juris, which states that emerging, decolonized sovereign states should retain the borders of the preceding dependent area. Furthermore, in 1969 the Papuans controversially decided to be a part of Indonesia through a political referendum. However, all these points are disputed by West Papuan separatists.

For many years, the Papuans have not possessed an adequate platform to voice their account of history. They have been politically and socially silenced through severe punishment, and even assassination. The claim for West Papuan independence is justified broadly by the idea that Papua has never been culturally, ethnically and politically integrated with Indonesia. Along cultural lines there is dissimilarity: according to Dr Nino Viartasiwi, author of The politics of history in West Papua – Indonesia conflict, difference is highlighted through “governmental features such as big-man leadership, community-level decision-making, and small, close-knit communities that do not answer to a higher authority. Tribalism is a central component of Papuan sociopolitical organization.”

As well as this issue, during the 1960s West Papua thought itself to be a sovereign state. Willy Mandowen, the appointed mediator of the Papuan People’s Congress stated that this occurred on 1 December 1961, with the approval of the Netherlands royal government. This assertion is a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the AFC (Act of Free Choice), as it denied the existence of the sovereign state of West Papua. The AFC was a political referendum administered by both the United Nations and Indonesia in 1969, however, from the perspective of West Papuans they were denied the opportunity for self-determination because the AFC was manipulated by Indonesia to ensure that West Papua was absorbed. Indonesia opted against the common process of “one person, one vote,” and instead, the Indonesian practice of musyawarah was used. According to an analysis by Thomas D. Musgrave, this involved “a consultation process with the representatives of an enlarged version of the eight regional councils of West Papua.” However, the pre-existing members of those councils had been selected by Indonesia, and the additional members selected to enlarge the regional councils were also hand-picked by Indonesian officials. All in all, there were 1022 members chosen to represent the entirety of West Papua, and in the opinion of the Indonesian government, this constituted an appropriate act of self-determination for West Papua. The Act of Free Choice was nothing of the kind for West Papuans. Their right to self-determination was compromised as the result did not reflect the sentiments of the vast majority of the West Papuan population. In the years before and after the Act of Free Choice referendum, West Papuans have shown their resistance to becoming a part of Indonesia through repeated demonstrations and armed rebellions, though without gaining the attention of the international community. The tension in the region remains unpublicized, and seems to be of little concern to other states. This approach is problematic and demonstrates a willing ignorance in regard to the well-being and rights of West Papuans.

The Australia-Indonesia Relationship and West Papua: Realpolitik vs Morality

Currently the international community is dealing with the political and social unrest in West Papua nonchalantly. The Australian government is especially reluctant to address the issue, a stance that is in direct contrast to the liberal institutions and norms that underpin Australian society. This reluctance is a consequence of the complex economic, political and strategic relationship between the two countries, and the situation in West Papua has only acted as an irritant to this relationship, often referred to as a “pebble in the shoe.” For Australia, the issue in its most simplistic form can be described as a contest between realpolitik and morality and unfortunately realpolitik has consistently emerged as victorious.

Australian foreign policy has been described by former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans: “the conduct of foreign affairs is about responding realistically to the world as we find it… we have to balance questions of international morality against the pragmatic acceptance of irreversible fact.” Consistent with this definition, the Australian government has prioritized the relationship with Jakarta more or less without fail in modern times, whereas they see support for West Papuan independence as counterproductive, operating with complete disregard for the suffering of the West Papuan people. Australia wishes to avoid divisive issues so as to not compromise relations with Indonesia and provoke tension but are otherwise dismissive of the political and social tumult in the region. This can be seen in an incident in early 2006, where a group of 43 West Papuan refugees landed on Australian shores flying banners which read “‘Free West Papua” in both English and Bahasa. They were led by Herman Waingga, a member of the student union who had previously been charged on two separate occasions with subversion as a result of conducting peaceful protests. Jakarta therefore inferred that his intention was political rather than for fleeing persecution. Australia granted 42 out of the 43 asylum seekers the status of genuine refugees, which put stress upon the Australian-Indonesian relationship. Consequently, Australia turned a blind eye to the persecution occurring in West Papua, instead appeasing Indonesia by putting forward a bill called the “migration amendment,” which essentially stipulated that an asylum seeker who landed in northern Australia would not technically be in Australia. The Australian government chose realpolitik over morality and continue to do so.

Though the situation in West Papua is undoubtedly complex, with great disparity between the perspectives of both Indonesia and West Papua, the response by Australia has operated solely on the basis of self interest. This approach is problematic as it completely ignores the plight of the West Papuan people, an issue that should take precedence over bilateral relations with Indonesia.

Zac Williams Junior Correspondent at The Organization for World Peace Currently studying at the University of Queensland and in the process of completing a Bachelor of International Studies, majoring in both international relations and french.I possess a deep interest in civilizational politics, particularly in the former Yugoslavia, as well as interest in the role of multilateral institutions in the international system.

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Human Rights Update West Papua – 2nd Quarter 2019

July 12, 2019

Human Rights Update West Papua – 2nd Quarter 2019

Published on Monday, 08 July 2019 02:07
Since December 2018, more than 100 civilians – the majority of them indigenous Papuans – have allegedly died as a consequence of the ongoing armed conflict in the Nduga regency. The conflict has reportedly led to the displacement of thousands of indigenous Papuans. The military operation in Nduga is ongoing, and human rights defenders, journalists and international observers are still restricted from entering the regency. The ICP is concerned about the significant increase of extra-judicial killings in the past nine months. While the high number of killings during the 4th quarter of 2018 and the 1st quarter of 2019 is mainly related to the armed conflict in Nduga, the additional six cases of killings and one alleged suicide while in detention during the 2nd quarter are the outcome of unprofessional behaviour of security force members. Five of those cases of killings were the consequence of the use of firearms during crowd control operations in the regencies Asmath and Deiyai. The high number of 29 cases of torture and ill-treatment is related to police violence against protesters during political demonstrations or police negligence to protect peaceful Pro-Papuan protesters from violent acts by members of nationalist mass organisations (ORMAS) in the Javanese city of Malang.The pattern of cases during the reporting period demonstrates persistent shortcomings of the judicial system and law enforcement institutions in West Papua. Three ‘political trials’ during the reporting period indicate that judges appear to lack impartiality, hence verdicts strongly reinforce government policies rather than showing objective judgements based on legal grounds. An example is the five years imprisonment sentence for a Polish citizen who was found guilty of treason for the alleged attempt to sell weapons to the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). It is the first time that treason charges have been pressed against a foreigner. While the evidence presented at court was considerably ‘weak’, the sentence was higher than those of previous cases with similar charges throughout the past years. The verdict underpins the government’s restrictive policy regarding the presence of foreigners in West Papua. Besides this, there were cases where the law enforcement officers’ negligence affected the health condition of arrestees and detainees in West Papuan detention facilities, resulting in the preventable deterioration of their health condition and even death.

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23 extra-judicial killings in West Papua last year – rights group

July 10, 2019
23 extra-judicial killings in West Papua last year – rights group

11:58 am today

A human rights group advocating for West Papuans in Indonesia says there were more than 20 extra-judicial killings by the military there last year.
But the military has dismissed the findings, which come during an escalating conflict in Papua’s Highlands as rebels wage war on the state.
The International Coalition for Papua has documented 23 killings it claimed happened at the hands of Indonesia’s military in 2018.
The recently-released list ranges from bullet wounds to being burned alive, mostly in the troubled Central Highlands.
The rights group is demanding Indonesia launch independent investigations into all the cases, warning more deaths have been reported this year.
But a military spokesperson, Muhammad Aidi, said the report is a hoax and that some victims died from tribal violence.
He said others were rebels who died in gunfights after launching attacks on soldiers.

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