Sunday, February 22, 2015
A PETITION for Fijians to stand in solidarity with the people of West Papua in their application to be full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group will be delivered to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in late April.
All Fijians are now urged to sign the petition that was launched at Suva’s Sukuna Park on Friday to show solidarity and support for their Melanesian brothers and sisters.
Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA) director Sirino Rakabi said the people of West Papua needed Fiji’s support.
"The people of West Papua now look to Fiji, being one of the influential countries in the region, to support and stand in solidarity with them in their bid to be full members of the MSG," Mr Rakabi said.
"Now is the time for us, the citizens of Fiji, to call on our government to officially and publicly express our support and solidarity with their wish to be full members of this Melanesian body, a body that should and ought to represent all Melanesians.
"Their full membership in the MSG will be a highly significant step towards realising their dream that one day soon, they will be free from oppression, fear and slavery, and to determine their own political future."
The petition cause, Mr Rakabi said had already been supported by the Fiji Council of Churches as well as national and regional civil society organisations and individuals.
People are requested to deliver their signed petition forms to the ECREA office at Knollys St in Suva.
West Papua Report
This is the 129th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at edmcw. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan. Link to this issue (with graphics):
The Report leads with "Perspective," an analysis piece; followed by "Update," a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then "Chronicle" which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a Perspective or responding to one should write to edmcw. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.
This edition’s Perspective, Ethan Harfenist of mongabay.com examines the true rate of deforestation in the region. In UPDATE: The United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) adopted a constitution and presented of a formal application for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Regional support for West Papua is growing, notably from Prime Minister O’Neill of Papua New Guinea. The expanding international empathy for Papuans has prompted Jakarta to form a task force to try to counter recent Papuan diplomatic successes. A brutal campaign has targeted civilians in the Utikini area near the giant Freeport mining concession. An early champion of Papuan rights has become a victim in the scandal-ridden struggle to appoint a National Police commander. Various voices are speaking out against palm oil developers who, abetted by security forces, are exploiting Papuans. There are growing calls for Freeport to build a new smelter in West Papua rather than in East Java. A senior U.S. defense official has again offered assurances of continued U.S. cooperation with the Indonesian military – notwithstanding the military’s record of human rights abuse, corruption and lack of accountability before the law. A former PNG official has raised concern about Indonesian military pressure on the PNG-Indonesian border.
Deforestation may be ramping up in Papua, West Papua
By Ethan Harfenist, mongabay.com correspondent (January 27, 2015).
from http://news.mongabay.com/2015/0127-gfrn-harfenist-papua-deforestation-ramping-up.html .
Reprinted with permission
Despite being covered in commodity concessions and viewed by some as becoming a focal point for the Indonesian government’s palm oil development in the country’s eastern half, the provinces of Papua and West Papua have, rather mysteriously, recorded very low deforestation rates compared to the rest of the archipelago. This may seem odd to some observers, especially given the number of reports and photos that have poured out of the two provinces highlighting the exploitation of their jungles.
But rather than represent a pleasant surprise for environmentalists and the peoples inhabiting these restive lands, the reality of the situation is a bit more complex. While it may be understood that large-scale deforestation in Papua and West Papua is still in its early stages, finding accurate deforestation data for these two provinces is no easy task. As a result, conflicting numbers published by the government and NGOs tell vastly different stories about what’s really happening on the ground.
Let’s start out with official government data. The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, an agency viewed by some as corrupt and mismanaged, claims in its 2013 Forest Area Statistics report that West Papua lost 20,285 hectares of forest from 2011-2012, while it provided no deforestation data for Papua province. Attempts by mongabay.com to clarify this absence of data with the ministry were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, data from Global Forest Watch (GFW) largely uphold the government’s numbers for West Papua, with 22,389 hectares of tree cover lost from 2011-2012, and Papua losing 64,230 hectares during the same time period. In all, Papua and West Papua lost 250,542 hectares and 122,885 hectares, respectively, from 2001-2012.
In comparison to the forest loss of Indonesia as a whole, which reached 840,000 hectares in 2012 alone , the forests of Papua and West Papua have remained relatively unscathed. But although deforestation has not been as rampant in these regions as it has been for other Indonesian provinces, Charles Tawaru, Greenpeace’s forest campaigner in Papua, says that one thing is for certain: "The forests of Papua and West Papua continue to be degraded."
Global Forest Watch data show an upward trend of deforestation in Papua, with tree cover loss nearly doubling between 2011 and 2012, and GFW maps indicate that much of Papua’s tree cover loss occurred in the large number of timber and, to a lesser extent, palm oil and wood fiber concessions that dot its land. As timber concessions become depleted across other parts of the archipelago, namely Sumatra and Kalimantan, intact forests in Eastern Indonesia risk further depletion.
"At the moment, logging legal and illegal and plantations are the main drivers [of deforestation] in Papua," Yuyun Inradi, Greenpeace’s forest political campaign team leader, told mongabay.com.
Logging has traditionally driven most of the provinces’ deforestation, but West Papua, according to Greenpeace, is currently undergoing something of a palm oil boom in certain regencies. Indonesia remains the world’s largest producer of palm oil and, as stated in a recent working paper published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the country is targeting to produce 40 million tons a year by 2020 twice the output it recorded in 2010.
"In the provinces of Papua and West Papua, the area of oil palm plantations is low compared to other regions," states the CIFOR paper. "However, it is growing at a steady rate."
But not all concessions in Papua and West Papua are being developed at the same pace. Global Forest Watch shows some concessions in the provinces contain intact forest landscapes (IFLs) that have been degraded, while others are completely void of IFLs. On the other hand, many of the concessions on the map appear to have large swaths of IFL.
Still, given how much area concessions cover in the provinces, deforestation figures remain unusually low. After all, according to government figures cited by Greenpeace, Papua contains about a third of the remaining rainforests in Indonesia, a country that not too long ago gained international notoriety for surpassing Brazil as the world’s largest deforester in terms of annual rate.
Yuyun claims that the presence of concessions doesn’t necessarily translate to active deforestation, especially when it comes to timber plots. "There are a lot of logging concessions that still have active licenses but have no activity on the ground," he said. "Those that still have tracts of IFL could be new or inactive old concessions."
Meanwhile, palm oil concessions represent both a present and future issue for Papua’s forests. Sorong and Manokwari regencies are currently palm oil hotspots in West Papua, a province that has seen its area of palm oil estates increase from 31,000 hectares in 2007 to 70,000 in 2011, according to CIFOR.
In Papua province, the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) has attracted a lot of attention from activists and local communities alike for its wide-ranging concession grants. According to a 2012 Greenomics report, MIFEE is slated to cover over one million hectares of agricultural land in the Papuan region of Merauke.
Although only two of 10 proposed blocks were to include palm oil, Greenpeace has previously noted that "significantly" more palm oil concessions were to be included. According to Yunyun, roughly 600,000 hectares included in the project’s limits have thus far been opened up for production.
Because of how sensitive they are politically and how valuable they are economically, the provinces of Papua and West Papua represent major development priorities for the Indonesian government and are therefore prone to the effects of extractive industries. Although the situation may be hard to definitively gauge given spotty information, deforestation in the West Papua region may be more widespread than any published data purport.
- Greenpeace, University of Maryland, World Resources Institute and Transparent World. 2014. Intact Forest Landscapes: update and degradation from 2000-2013. Accessed through Global Forest Watch on Jan. 27, 2015. www.globalforestwatch.org.
- Hansen, M. C., P. V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S. V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend. 2013. "Hansen/UMD/Google/USGS/NASA Tree Cover Loss and Gain Area." University of Maryland, Google, USGS, and NASA. Accessed through Global Forest Watch on Jan. 27, 2015. www.globalforestwatch.org .
- "Logging." World Resources Institute. Accessed through Global Forest Watch on Jan. 27, 2015. www.globalforestwatch.org.
- "Oil Palm." World Resources Institute. Accessed through Global Forest Watch on Jan. 27, 2015. www.globalforestwatch.org.
- UNEP-WCMC, UNEP, and IUCN. "World Database on Protected Areas." Accessed on Jan. 27, 2015.www.protectedplanet.net .
United Liberation Movement of West Papua Adopts Constitution,
Submits Application for Membership in Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)
In early February, the new coalition, the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), (see January 2015 West Papua Report) published the movement’s Constitution. At the same time, the ULMWP produced its formal application for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). The Constitution and application flow from the December 3, 2014 Saralana Declaration, which formalized the unity of three key West Papuan groups: West Papua National Coalition for Liberation WPNCL); Federal Republic of West Papua (NRFPB) and National Parliament for West Papua (NPWP). The Saralana Declaration pledged that the organizations would speak with "one voice."
The Constitution states that the principal objective of the ULMWP is to represent "the aspirations of the West Papuan people in seeking to determine their own future and political status." The document describes the group’s vision to "establish a free and democratic nation state called West Papua" and pledges to "faithfully represent the aspirations of the West Papuan people in their struggle for self-determination, using peaceful means." It declares the new unity organization’s intention to "build sub-regional, regional and global solidarity" in a common effort to "seek diplomatic support and recognition for our just cause." In that effort, the ULMWP underscored that its ‘first objective" would be to seek membership in the MSG."
ULMWP Secretary General Octovanius Mote formally handed the group application to the MSG’s Director General, Peter Forau on February 3. Mote said "today the hearts of our Papuan people are with us as we make this application to be properly recognized by the family of Melanesia. We believe we have fulfilled the criteria asked of us by the MSG, and we trust the MSG will process our application with due deliberation."
Mote added that at its 2013 summit in Noumea, the leaders of the MSG "endorsed our ‘inalienable right to self-determination’ but asked us to unify under one group so as to be representative of all the Papuan people. Last December we achieved this unification during a historic reconciliation meeting here in Port Vila, thanks to the support of both the Vanuatu government and Pacific Council of Churches."
ULMWP spokesman Benny Wenda called this "an urgent matter to resolve because of the ongoing atrocities committed by the Indonesian military and the program of transmigration which is accelerating and according to current trends, means that indigenous Papuans will only make up 28% of the population by 2020. Since the election of its new government, we are only seeing an increase in Indonesia’s military presence and intimidation, so we place our hope and trust in our fellow Melanesians to recognize that our struggle is just. We are not just defending our homeland, we are defending Melanesia."
The MSG is expected to make a decision on the application during an MSG leaders summit in the Solomon Islands in July.
Early Regional Support for ULMWP
The government of Vanuatu has reaffirmed its support for the decolonization of both West Papua and New Caledonia. Vanuatu Prime Minister recently told the heads of mission meeting that Vanuatu that his government is determined to assist the two colonized Melanesian populations in attaining independence.
In an unexpected development, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, long reticent about the plight of Papuans across the border in Indonesia-controlled West Papua, has spoken out on their behalf.
In a speech to a national leaders summit, February 5, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said "the time has come to speak for our people about the oppression" in West Papua. In the past, Port Moresby has supported the Indonesian government contention that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia. PNG leaders have also been reluctant to talk about human rights violations or to speak on behalf of West Papuans.
In his February 5 speech, he said "the time had come to speak about the oppression of our brothers and sisters in West Papua." He told the assembly that "Sometimes, we forget our own families, our own brothers, especially those in West Papua…. We have the moral obligation to speak for those who are not allowed to talk. We must be the eyes for those who are blindfolded." He added that "Again, Papua New Guinea is a regional leader. We must take the lead in having mature discussions, with our friends and more so, in an engaging manner."
Soon after O’Neill spoke, PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato appeared to pull back. The Foreign Minister reaffirmed PNG support for Indonesian "territorial sovereignty" Pato suggests parts of the O’Neill statement had been misconstrued and that he had been in contact with his Indonesian counterpart, "Whom I had the opportunity to speak to on the phone yesterday in Jakarta on some of these issues over the Prime Minister’s statement. So we’ve moving ahead and putting all those things, particularly the interpretations of that statement, behind us."
Pato appeared to put a new condition on the Papuan application for membership in the MSG noting that the application must be made in consultation with Indonesia’s government. A spokesperson for the ULMWP said it hasn’t consulted Jakarta on the submission, and that MSG leaders do not need Indonesian endorsement to reach a decision on the application.
In Fiji, opposition parties have rallied in support of West Papua in a move they hope will put pressure on authorities to act. Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa said that the pressuring Fijian authorities to hold the Indonesian government to account for human rights abuses in the region.
Jakarta Acts to Counter Growing Support for Papuans
A senior official at Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said on February 5 that the Indonesian government will create a special task force to advocate government polices in the province of Papua." The announcement comes on the heels of renewed Papuan efforts to join the regional Melanesian Spearhead Group and indications that the unified Papuan diplomatic efforts are gaining traction (see item above).
Darmansjah Djumala, head of Policy Analysis and Development Agency at the ministry, said the task force will "engage, or approach all [those] involved in the spread of information [about Papua], including politicians, media and groups affiliated with separatist organizations." Indonesian diplomats were "told to be responsive on movements sponsored by Papua separatist groups in countries they are serving in." Darmansjah added that the task force would initially focus on Pacific countries, "aimed at gaining empathy for Indonesia on Papua affairs from the region." A Melanesian Culture Center is planned to support this effort.
Massive "Sweeping Operation" Drives Hundreds of Civilians from Their Villages
Benny Wenda, spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), told media that the Indonesian military has driven villagers from their homes into inhospitable mountains near the Freeport mining complex at Tembagapura. Wenda reported that there have been mass arrests of civilians in the village of Utikini and that security forces had burned down civilian homes. The military had beaten and tortured villagers after finding "morning star" flags, and other paraphernalia in homes. Peaceful political expression can be dangerous in West Papua, where people are jailed for up to 15 years for simply raising the West Papuan flag.
"[In the] last four days, most of the people in the villages have run, and some of them are still hiding because this village, the Indonesian police and military have blockaded all the roads and there is no way to go out," Wenda said.
Adding some detail, on January 9 FreeWestPapua.org reported:
"Several days ago, the Indonesian military and police arrested scores of West Papuans in Utikini village near Timika. According to reports, up to 116 West Papuan men, women and children were arrested and tortured.
"Recently there has been a surge of Indonesian military activity in the Timika area of West Papua where military and police personnel have assembled to look for members of the banned Free Papua movement (OPM).
"They raided Utikini village and found banners in the basement of one house calling for an independence referendum for West Papua and a rejection of the so called ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969. Many of the villagers in Utikini were also carrying cards supporting self-determination for West Papua. For the Indonesian police, this was enough to warrant the arrests of the villagers and burning of their houses."
At a January 7 media conference, a police chief said, "I ordered [the police] to burn the civilians’ houses in Utikini village. This was deliberately done to trim the movement. I will annihilate them."
The military/police assault on the civilians in Utikini was preceded by two events. Unknown elements killed two police personnel and one private security guard on January 1 (see January West Papua Report). The two Brimob and one Freeport security guard were killed in an armed attack allegedly perpetrated by the armed civilian group led by Ayub Waker in Utikini on January 1. There are also reports that killing was linked to illegal alcohol sales in which the victims may have been involved.
An earlier operation by a joint security team of National Police (POLRI) and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel forced 1,000 Papuan gold miners to abandon panning operations in the Kabul river basin near the Freeport mining complex. Describing this action and its aftermath Papua Police chief Inspector Gen. Yotje Mende told media: "As many as 51 security posts have been set up in illegal gold mining areas along the Kabul river basin so that they will not return. This is for the sake of their own safety because the areas are prone to landslides."
WPAT Comment: The humanitarian impact of this large-scale "sweeping operation," like those conducted throughout the central highlands on a regular basis for many years, is devastating for local people. It is a form of collective punishment which is specifically condemned in the Geneva Conventions (Article 33 of the 4th convention.
But the Utikini case is special insofar as it is the first such large scale operation carried out under the administration of newly-elected President Joko Widodo. Notwithstanding the new president’s pledges to "listen" to Papuans and generally seek a new beginning, this harsh security force action appears to lock the new president into the "security approach" employed in addressing legitimate Papuan grievances since the Suharto dictatorship.
Early Defender of Papuan Human Rights Victim of Police Scandal
Bambang Widjojanto, the 1993 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate, was detained by the Indonesian police as part of a major scandal involving the man tapped by new President Joko Widodo to head the National Police. Widjojanto was an early advocate for the rights of the West Papuan people, suffering threats and detentions by the Suharto dictatorship for his efforts.
Widjojanto, now deputy chief of the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi/KPK), was arrested on January 23 on an old charge of providing false testimony in a 2010 legal case. He was soon released after protests by supporters of the rights advocate and of the popular commission. Resistance by senior police officials to the commission’s investigation continues. Despite President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo’s order that the National Police cooperate in the fight against graft, some high-ranking police generals for the defied summons for questioning by KPK investigators.
Widjojanto and his fellow commissioners ran into difficulties when the commission named Major General Budi Gunawan as a corruption suspect after a six-month investigation. This action came on the heels of the general’s nomination by President Widodo to head the National Police (POLRI). Widjojanto and the commission have been caught up in power struggles between KPK and POLRI and between Jokowi and the PDI-P party that supported him for president. Gunawan was an aide to party leader and former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Widjojanto has since taken a leave of absence from the commission. His term is up at the end of the year.
Note: The West Papua Advocacy Team was created by the RFK Memorial (now the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights) to support the work of Bambang Widjojanto, but separated from the Memorial in 2005 to focus exclusively on West Papua issues.
Papua Student Alliance Condemns Palm Oil Companies Use of Security Forces
The Papua Students Alliance (AMP) Yogyakarta City Committee on January 27 condemned palm oil companies that employ security forces to protect themselves from the customary communities in Sima village, Nabire.
The company PT. New Nabire, according to AMP, operates in Nabire without the approval of a majority of the indigenous tribes, (notably the Yerisiam) who have customary rights over the land. The company, according to the AMP, also lacks a clear legal basis for its operations. AMP charged that the military acts as "guard dogs" on the side of investors by protecting their investments.
Meanwhile, the daily Suara Papua published a January 25 editorial which called for an end to the destruction of protected forests which belong to the Yerisiam people. The editorial noted that logging in Nabire to establish palm oil plantations had increased in recent years. It cited specifically the Wami and Sima areas in Yaur District, which supposedly are protected areas. In addition, five other protected forest areas are being encroached upon in Marera, Orododo, Kali Oro, Bamboo Kali and Kali Wadiyo. Evidence of the increased logging, much of it illegal, draws on 2013-2014 data compiled by the Nabire Regional Papuan Customary Council. Based on council data the editorial contended that there was police involvement in nearly two thirds of the illegal logging. Among companies involved are The PT Nabire New, PT. Sariwana Adi Perkasa, PT Sariwana Superior Self.
Simon Peter Hanebora, chief of the Yerisiam, said that "Palm oil business only disguise, because so far they only cut and take out the logs." Even though companies lack proper business licenses (because they have been rejected by the local communities), the involvement of Brimob (the militarized police) enables the companies to operate, he said.
Anger Over New Freeport Smelter Construction Outside West Papua
The national Commission on Human Rights (Komnas Ham) has raised objection to the proposed construction of a copper smelter by West Papua based PT Freeport in Gresik, East Java, rather than in West Papua where ore for the smelter is generated. The Commission argued that the smelter should be built in West Papua to encourage development in that area. Construction of a smelter in West Papua would also address persistently high unemployment there.
Komnas Ham Commissioner Natalius Pigai contended that "the company is responsible for opening Indonesia’s easternmost region from isolation; not doing so would be an egregious exploitation of Papua." He added that "corporate crimes are not only found in civil and political matters, but also in economic and social aspects, as is the case with Freeport." He said that the commission would file a protest to the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry.
Freeport Indonesia is a subsidiary of U.S. copper and gold mining company Freeport-McMoRan. A 2009 law obligates mining companies operating in Indonesia to process ore within Indonesia. Freeport has until 2017 to complete the smelter after which time ore exports would be banned.
The Indonesian parliament is also pressing for Freeport to place the smelter in West Papua. Parliament leaders raised the issue with President Widodo in a meeting The House’s leaders brought up the Papua smelter issue during a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on February 2. Deputy speaker Agus Hermanto claimed that the President had agreed that Freeport should build its smelter close to its mine in Papua, The company plans to build a smelter in Gresik, East Java.
U.S. Collaboration with TNI Based on "Common Values"
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David B. Shear while visiting Indonesia highlighted comprehensive military cooperation between Indonesia and the U.S., including military exercises, weapon sales, trade, and high-level defense meetings. He said that the developing military relationship between Indonesia and the U.S. was "based on the common values and interests of both countries, which were established long time ago."
Shear, referring to past restrictions on U.S. military equipment and spare parts imposed in response to human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces in East Timor (now Timor-Leste) and elsewhere, said "It’s hard for me to imagine the U.S. placing such an embargo that will affect Indonesia, which is a strong partner…. We have important agreements on F-16 jet fighters and Apache helicopters."
The Indonesian military is buying eight Apache combat helicopters from Boeing for nearly $300 million. The contract is to be completed by February 28, 2018.
When the deal was first announced by the US government in August 2013, its value was estimated to be $500 million, suggesting that follow-on contracts for equipment and weapons are likely.
WPAT COMMENT: U.S. assurances to the TNI that there will be no interruption in supply of spare parts, along with his assertion that the U.S. and Indonesia share "common values" ignores the Indonesian military’s long record of human rights abuse, corruption and lack of accountability before the law. In the past, usually under Congressional pressure, various U.S. administrations have withheld cooperation with the TNI in order to add pressure to Indonesian NGO’s and others seeking real reform of the TNI and end to abuses. Moreover, previous U.S. administrations had been cautious in extending equipment or training which could render the U.S. complicit in Indonesian military human rights violations. Such concerns appear to be lost on the Obama administration.
Worries Expressed Over Indonesian Military Pressure on the PNG Border
John Tekwie’s, a former Governor of West Sepik province in Papua New Guinea, urged the PNG and Australian governments to do more to help protect PNG’s land border with Indonesia. His comment came after a reported Indonesian military incursion into Bewani, West Sepik. Indonesian military pursuits of West Papuan rebels crossing into PNG are common, sparking complaints by PNG citizens living near the border about abuses by the Indonesians.
Human Rights Watch Calls on Indonesia to Undo Legacy of Rights Abuse
Human Rights Watch, in the 25th edition of its World Report writes about problems in West Papua in its assessment of Indonesia, In a media release accompanying the report, Human Rights Watch summarized:
"Papua’s festering low-level pro-independence insurgency led by the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, OPM) continued to result in human rights abuses by Indonesian security forces. As of late October, at least 69 Papuans were imprisoned for peaceful advocacy of independence. Indonesian police arrested French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois on August 6, 2014, on charges of "working illegally"; they were released for time-served on October 24 after a Jayapura court sentenced them to two-and-a-half months in prison. Although Widodo indicated in July that he would seek to end the government stranglehold on foreign media access to Papua, he had not done so by year’s end."
Struggle and Survival in West Papua
In "MERDEKA! Struggle and survival in West Papua," an article by Australian socialist Ben Hillier places West Papua’s long struggle in the context of Dutch colonialism and Indonesian repression.
Engage Media, in association with Together with Belantara Papua and Yaysan Teratai Hati Papua, has released a second volume of Papuan Voices documentaries, These videos "tell the stories behind the conflict that are not often circulated: the struggles for education, healthcare, equality and dignity." The videos can be found at www .papuanvoices.net. The site also includes additional resource materials, such as background information, discussion and study guides, music, and more in in English and Bahasa Indonesia.
This issue can be found at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2015/1502.htm
Statement by the Executive Director of LP3BH
19 February 2015
If President Joko Widodo wishes to enter into dialogue with all
components of the people of the Land of Papua, as he has indicated,
there must first be a reduction in the number of military personnel in
As a lawyer and defender of human rights in the Land of Papua, I
think that this is an essential condition for dialogue to take place.
And the place to start this would be in those regions where conflict
is still widespread in the Central Highlands and along the border
between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea as well as in the regions
surrounding the massive Freeport mine in Tembagapura and Timika.
This would help to create a peaceful atmosphere and lessen the
feelings of terror and anxiety among the Papuan people, so that
dialogue could take place in an atmosphere of peace.
As the Executive-Director of the Institute of Research,
Investigation and Development of Human Rights – LP3BH – and recipient
of the John Humphrey Freedom Award in 2006, I urge President Joko
Widodo as Supreme Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces to cancel
his decision to create more territorial regions [KODAM] in the Land
All groups of the community in the Land of Papua, including the
religious organisations, should press for this.
There is no reason for any increase in the number of Kodams which
would simply reinforce the impression that the security approach is
still the government’s priority in the Land of Papua.
I firmly believe that this positive move by President Widodo to
enter into dialogue with the Papuan people should be welcomed by all
the stake holders, including the TNI [Indonesian Army]
Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive-Director of the LP3BH -Manokwari
Translated by Carmel Budiardjo
PHOTO: Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson(ABC News)
RELATED STORY: PNG’s PM vows to speak out against West Papua ‘oppression’
RELATED STORY: Indonesian students accused of monitoring activists
RELATED STORY: Five separatist rebels shot dead in West Papua
A prominent Australian human rights lawyer has welcomed a statement of support for West Papuans by Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O’Neill, saying it has "been a long time coming".
Mr O’Neill said he would speak out on behalf of Melanesians in Indonesian West Papua, saying it was "time for PNG to speak about the oppression of our people there".
Jennifer Robinson, a long-time advocate for the independence movement in the Indonesian province, said Mr O’Neill’s change of heart on the human rights abuses in the province was a huge development.
"This is a very big turnaround – to go from trying to shut down the raising of the West Papuan flag (in 2013) to speak openly about supporting West Papuan’s oppression and the oppression of Melanesians in West Papua," she said.
"This is a really big development and I think it’s a testament to the ongoing campaign and a testament to the strength of the movement and the support on the ground within the population of Papua New Guinea."
She said relations with Indonesia had previously meant the government in PNG remained silent on human rights issues in West Papua, despite vocal support from other Melanesian leaders including in Vanuatu.
"As we saw in Vanuatu, there’s been vocal criticism by local voters in response to government’s failure to raise West Papua within the Melanesian region and I think Papua New Guinea and the prime minister is perhaps starting to feel that democratic pressure as we see the greater penetration of social media and more people talking about this issue," Ms Robinson said.
"It’s a very welcome development and one that’s been a long time coming."
I think they’ll be very concerned and they ought to be: this shows that Indonesia cannot keep a lid on the West Papuan movement for independence and their claim for self-determination.
Human rights lawyer, Jennifer Robinson
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), headed by exiled independence activist Benny Wenda, applied for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group earlier this week.
The group consists of the Melanesian countries of Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and a group representing the indigenous Kanak people in New Caledonia.
Ms Robinson said there had been reports Indonesia had set up a task force to investigate membership application.
"I think they’ll be very concerned and they ought to be: this shows that Indonesia cannot keep a lid on the West Papuan movement for independence and their claim for self-determination," Ms Robinson said.
"(Indonesian president Joko Widodo) has come into power and promised a change for West Papua but what we’re seeing is status quo.
"Melanesian leadership is starting to see that there isn’t going to be a change and are standing up. It’s time Indonesia actually puts this on the table and starts talking about how to find a dignified response to this problem," she said.
The head of Indonesia’s National Commission of Human Rights, Hafid Abbas, said Indonesia did not want to create a diplomatic problem with its neighbour, but said he hoped Indonesia’s leaders would ask PNG for clarification on Mr O’Neill’s comments.
"PNG is our neighbour, we should… cooperate in all aspects of our development. I hope that president Joko Widodo and vice president (Jusuf) Kalla and foreign minister Retno (Marsudi) will visit Papua New Guinea to make clarification because as a neighbour we have to feel a much stronger confidence to intervene in our internal issue," he said.
He said Indonesia was only a new democracy, having ousted an authoritarian regime just 16 years ago, and said it had a "great commitment to promote human rights".
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088
Summary of events in West Papua for January -5 Feb. 2015
On the 1 January two policemen and a security officer at Freeport-McMoRan were killed. Second Brig. Riyan Hariansah and First Brig. Muhammad Andriad, both aged 22, and a 33-year-old security guard Suko Miartono were found dead shortly after carrying out a patrol in Utikini, Tembagapura. The bodies were found after a group of policemen conducting a routine patrol found their car near the bridge at Utikini Village or Mile-68 in the Tembagapura area. The attackers had removed rifles and ammunition from the victims. Over a thousand security force members were deployed to find the armed group led by Ayub Waker who they believed to be responsible for the fatal shootings. In all 13 members of the armed group were arrested. Eleven on the 7 January and two in the previous days. During the sweeps to find those responsible the security forces arrested up to 116 people living in the region. They were taken by bus from Mile 32 Tembagapura to the Timika Police. After a day at the police station 49 women and children were freed by police while 77 men were detained.
During the sweep by the security forces houses were burned and some of those arrested beaten. The Papuan police confirmed the arrests but claim only 13 people had been detained by the joint police and military team.
Jubi reported that Pastor Jhon Djonga said that the deployment of security force to chase the group led by Ayub Worker at Utikini Village caused resentment among the local residents towards the security forces. “The Papua Police Chief, please do not act like that. Now the people of Papua, whether live in the forest or city, the OPM or civilians, they are annoyed with the Police, there is no sympathy towards the Police,” Pastor Djonga said on the phone in Jayapura on Sunday (11/1). A report in Jubi on the 26 January gave another slant on the killings that occurred on the 1 January. Jubi reported that contrary to the information that had been submitted by the police, local residents and activists said the killing of the two members of the Papua Police Mobile Brigade originated from the liquor business. The report said security officers from various units in December 2014 until the beginning of January supplied alcohol to Freeport employees. According to the report the killings were the result of a quarrel between citizens and the suppliers. Whatever the reason behind the killings, the results was the police deployed thousands of troops in sweeps to find those responsible for the killing of the two Brimob members. As a result of the sweeps a number of residents were wounded, dozens of people arrested, homes burned, farm animals killed and residents fled from their villages into the woods.
Also near Utikini village, the Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Yotje Mende said a joint security team of National Police and Indonesian Military personnel had removed about 1000 miners working in illegal gold mining operations along the Kabul river and sent back to their homes. The Jakarta Post (14/1) reported that the Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Yotje Mende said “As many as 51 security posts have been set up in illegal gold mining areas along the Kabul river basin so that they will not return. This is for the sake of their own safety because the areas are prone to landslides,” He went on to say that illegal gold miners in Utikini village had become an extortion target for armed civilian groups. “The illegal gold miners were not aware that they had become financial sources for the armed civilian groups, which had regularly visited them and asked them to give money and food,” said Mende. “This was why we decided to remove the illegal gold miners, hoping that this would cut the chain of money and food for the armed civilian groups in the area,” and "We’ve repatriate about 1,000 miners in order to avoid casualties due to the current security forces still continue to chase to catch the armed groups that kill and take the guns belonged to members of Brimob," said Inspector General of Police Yotje Mende in Jayapura, Friday (16/1).
There has been a lot of attention on West Papua in the Indonesian media recently. An editorial in the Jakarta Globe (23 Jan.), reflecting on the violence in West Papua states in relation to the OPM “For one thing, we have long been made to believe it is the Free Papua Organization, or OPM, that threatens the area and its people, but we wonder just how many they number and why thousands of security officers have failed to deal with them after years hunting them down. Our guess is that the unrest is deliberately perpetuated because it benefits the ruling elites in Papua and Jakarta”. Also in relation to the OPM, A member of the Papua Legislative Council’s Commission I, Ruben Magay, said (Jubi 2 Feb.) the Free Papua Movement is not using violence anymore but diplomacy to express their political aspirations. “So the Free Papua Movement has ceased the fire. Now their level is upgraded. They might have used violence in the past, but not anymore,” Magay said on Saturday (31/1). He said a group called by the security force as the Armed Criminal Group (KKB), Armed Civilian Group (KSB) or separatists are not the Free Papua Movement, but they are a group groomed by certain parties for their own interests. “Groups called KKB, KSB and so on have economic motives. This damages Papuans, but it all will be uncovered,” he said.
ULMWP submits application to MSG
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), has submitted their application for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in Port Vila, Vanuatu. During a historic ceremony on the steps of the MSG Secretariat, ULMWP Secretary General Octovanius Mote on behalf of the three main resistance groups, formally handed the application to the MSG’s Director General, Peter Forau. The ULMWP has now lodged both an application for full membership, as well as a Constitution to guide the newly unified Papuan resistance as it continues its diplomatic push for self determination. Full release athttp://freewestpapua.org/2015/02/04/west-papua-resubmits-application-for-msg-membership/
Papua province to Establish Relations With Pacific Countries
tabloidjubi.com Feb 5th, 2015
Jayapura, Jubi – Papua province is seeking to strengthen relations with some Melanesian countries in the pacific region this year. “The provincial government has conducted exploratory cooperation with countries in the Pacific region and it is based on cultural relations,” head of the Border and International Relations of Papua, Suzana Wanggai told reporters in Jayapura Papua on Sunday (01/02/2015). “We’ve got the permission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and we also had communication with the Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines as the ambassador of the Philippines is still in charge of dealing with the Republic of Palau,” she said. She said if there were no agreements of Indonesian maritime boundary with neighboring countries, it may cause problems of mutual claims, in particular the management and utilization of fishery resources. However, the central government will see this relations as a part of cultural relations between each countries and not as political. “This can be beneficial for those who would like to work in various countries in the Pacific region,” she said. Earlier, Ahmad Subadri said this aspirations would be addressed at a meeting of members and the relevant ministries.“Our aspiration is to be heard we continue to center for follow-up,” Ahmad Subadri said during a meeting, the government of Papua Province with team of committee I DPD RI on Thursday (29/1) . (Alexander Loen/ Tina)
Freeport has come under a lot of criticism in the past month over its proposed commitment to developing a copper smelter. Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based giant miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc., is required to build a copper smelter in the country as a consequence of the 2009 Mining Law that requires mining firms to process and refine their minerals in domestic facilities.
Lawsuit. The Jakarta Globe (2 Feb) reported that four activists from ProDem, an activist group, filed a citizen lawsuit against President Joko Widodo and Freeport Indonesia, the local unit of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, at the Central Jakarta district Court on Monday for allegedly failing to comply with the 2009 Mining Law’s requirement on domestic smelting. The lawsuit includes a demand that could disrupt Freeport Indonesia’s production process for at least two months. People Lawyers Union, or SPR, acted as the counsel for the four plaintiffs, namely Arief Poyuono, Kisman Latumakulita, Iwan Sumule and Haris Rusly. ProDem is a network of activists from organizations that advocate for democracy around Indonesia. Arief, who is also the chairman of the State-owned Enterprises Labor Union, said they want the court to “cancel Freeport Indonesia’s permit extension to export concentrate for six months and its contract extension.”
The Jakarta Post (3 Feb.) reported that the Indonesian House of Representatives was also pushing the government to make Freeport establish its smelter in Papua, increasing concerns over whether the company will be able to complete development by 2017 when a full ban on ore exports will be implemented. The House’s leaders brought up the Papua smelter issue during a meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Monday. The House’s deputy speaker, Agus Hermanto, claimed that the President had agreed that Freeport Indonesia should build its smelter close to its mine in Papua instead of following its plan to build in Gresik, East Java. “I say many problems will arise if the smelter is built in Gresik,” Agus said after the meeting, without elaborating.
Uncertainty shrouds talks on Freeport
Raras Cahyafitri, The Jakarta Post February 02 2015 . The government has not decided on the future of PT Freeport Indonesia’s operations, although it understands investors need certainty. In July last year, the government and Freeport signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in which both sides agreed to complete the draft of an amendment to the miner’s contract of work (CoW) within six months, or January 2015. However, they failed to meet the January deadline and eventually agreed to extend it another six months. Despite the deadline extension, whether Freeport will continue operations in the country remains unclear. Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based Freeport McMoran Inc., will see its contract expire in 2021 — around six years from now. The company has been trying to secure a contract extension so that it can ensure the payback period for its massive investment in the development of underground mining and a mandatory copper smelter in Indonesia. However, under existing law, any request for a contract extension can only be made two years before expiry, which in the case of Freeport will be in 2019. “We have to change views, particularly concerning worries over whether Freeport Indonesia closes for operation. We have no fear. Even the President and Vice President have stronger views; if there is no deal, let them go. That’s a political position,” Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said said at a hearing with the House of Representatives recently.
“Reality in the field, however, shows that Freeport Indonesia is a big institution and contributes both directly and indirectly to local income. There are also thousands workers, making this a tough issue,” he added. Sudirman emphasized that through its MoU with Freeport, the government was seeking more benefits from the operation of the giant miner in the country, particularly contribution to industrial development in the Papua area, where company’s main operations is located. Freeport Indonesia, which has been operating the world’s largest gold mine Grasberg since the early 1970s, is seeking a maximum operation extension of 20 years until 2041. Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Franky Sibarani suggested the government not extend Freeport Indonesia’s operations. “We should thank Freeport Indonesia for developing the Grasberg mine. However, time has passed a long and operations should have been handed over,” Franky, who was inaugurated as BKPM head last November, said last Friday. He argued the country has the means to develop the mine, particularly through state-owned diversified miner PT Aneka Tambang (Antam), which also operates gold mines in the country. BKPM is involved in the renegotiations of a number of mineral and coal CoWs in the country.
Considering that a number of mining firms have been operating in the country for years and aim to make use more of natural resources, the government, through the 2009 Mining Law, aims to adjust a number of mineral and coal CoWs in the country, including the one involving Freeport Indonesia. The adjustment covers six main issues, namely royalty increases, reduction of mining-area size, continuity of operations under a mining license instead of a contract, obligation to give added value to mining products, divestment and the obligation to use local goods and services. Last year, when the government forced Freeport Indonesia to principally agree on adjustments to its CoW despite future operations uncertainty, the primary MoU stated that the government would not unreasonably withhold or delay the continuation of its operations if the company met all of its commitments, including the establishment of a copper smelter in the country. The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s director general for mineral and coal, R. Sukhyar, said the primary MoU remained valid and became the basis for the extended MoU last January. Details of agreements will be followed up in the amendment to the CoW.
An editorial on Freeport from the Jakarta Post (4 Feb.) below
Freeport’s lack of commitment
The Jakarta Post | Editorial | Wed, February 04 2015
PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc., deserves a strong rebuke from the government and the House of Representatives for its utter lack of commitment to developing a copper smelter to comply with the 2009 Mining Law. The government had compromised in early 2014 by lowering the purity levels of copper, nickel, bauxite and other minerals to fall below those stipulated in the law to allow them to continue mineral exports after the 2014 deadline for the ban of unprocessed mineral exports. The compromise was meant to prevent substantial worker layoffs and sudden falls in export earnings and state revenues for the central and regional governments, from royalties and other taxes. But the export permit, issued during the transition period until 2017 when a total ban will be slapped on unprocessed minerals, is tied to higher export taxes of 20 to 60 percent, royalty payments and clear timetables for the development of smelters in the country. So far, Papua-based Freeport Indonesia, the largest producer of copper and gold in the country, has failed to show any concrete progress in the development of its US$2.3 billion smelter project with an annual capacity of two million tons. The company only reached a memorandum of understanding with state-owned PT Petrokimia Gresik on its plan to lease an 80-hectare plot of land in Gresik, East Java, for the plant project. It is rather impossible for Freeport to complete the plant within the next three years, as the required feasibility study has yet to be made and dozens of other permits have yet to be obtained from the central and local governments. The House was especially irked by Freeport’s plan to build its smelter in the Petrokimia Gresik industrial complex in East Java, a corporate action seen as ignoring the interests of the Papuan people. But Freeport’s plan is understandably more commercially viable because the smelter project requires at least 600 megawatts of power and other supporting infrastructure that is unavailable in Papua. Gresik can easily fulfill those requirements. Petrokimia Gresik can also process sulfuric acid, a byproduct of the smelter. The government should be forceful in ensuring that Freeport develops its smelter, but given the tight schedule, the company could be allowed to go ahead with its original plan to build the smelter in Gresik but with stricter timetables for each stage of construction and much higher export tax, as stipulated in the January 2014 regulation. Freeport-McMoRan has a big stake in Papua as its Indonesia concession holds 30 billion pounds of proven and probable copper, 29.8 million ounces of gold and 308.5 million ounces of silver. Its mining operations in Papua have been highly profitable due to low (open pit) mining costs. Hence, the only alternative for Freeport is pushing ahead with the smelter project, otherwise it will lose those huge mineral reserves if its mining license is not renewed after 2021. –
Areki Wanimbo is still in prision in Wamena
Although the two French journalists, Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois were released after serving 2.5 months in prison, Areki Wanimbo who was arrested with the journalists is still in Wamena prison facing trial for treason under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Penal Code. He’s a teacher and the Lanny Jaya tribal chief. Other Papuans arrested at the same time were released without charge.
Two civilians wounded in Lanny Jaya regency
Two civilians who worked for a private company PT. Nirvana were shot in Kampung Popome in the Lanny Jaya regency, on the 29 January. They were evacuated to the hospital in Wamena to receive treatment. The police said the perpetrators had managed to escape and had also destroyed an excavator by burning it.
Papua-PNG border rife with smuggling
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Archipelago | Wed, January 07 2015,
Border areas between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (PNG), especially Merauke, Papua, and Daru, PNG, are prone to smuggling, says a local military commander. Merauke naval base commander Brig. Gen. Buyung Lalana told Antara news agency on Tuesday that the areas were prone to smuggling due to limited equipment, such as motorboats. The smugglers, added Buyung, were mostly Indonesians and smuggled goods from PNG, usually in the form of marine resources, such as sea cucumbers and fish stomach as well as marijuana. “Many Indonesians enter PNG to buy marine yields from PNG residents as they are lured by the price, which reaches millions, such as for sea cucumber,” said Buyung. He added that his command was only able to monitor the traffic of people from Indonesia and PNG if they reported at the Torasi border crossing manned by a platoon of marines.(***)
Warning over security on PNG/Indo border
RNZI 29 January 2015
A former Governor of West Sepik province in Papua New Guinea says both the national government and Australia’s need to do more to help protect PNG’s land border with Indonesia. John Tekwie’s comment comes after another reported Indonesian military incursion into PNG, in Bewani, West Sepik. Indonesian military pursuits of Free West Papua rebels spilling over into PNG have become common over the years, as have complaints by PNG citizens living near the porous border about their treatment by the Indonesians. Mr Tekwie says PNG and Australia need to wake up over the security situation caused by the continued subjugation of West Papuans by Indonesia. "And you know, when a man is pushed to the end of a table, what do they do? They gonna fight back. I think the West Papua issue is boiling up to that point soon and something is going to happen. And Indonesia is adamant as you know, that Indonesia will fight to protect and prevent West Papua breaking away." John Tekwie
Fiji opposition announces support for West Papua
Updated at 8:13 pm on 17 January 2015
Fiji’s opposition parties have rallied behind the Free West Papua Movement in a move they hope will put pressure on authorities to act. The Opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, says the Melanesian people of West Papua have been terrorised for years and hopes for freedom have been suppressed. The Fiji Times reports the opposition is hoping authorities will be pressured to hold the Indonesian government to account for human rights abuses in the restive province.
40 people found infected with HIV in Jayapura
Sabtu, 17 January 2015. Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News) – At least 40 people were found to have been infected by HIV in the city of Jayapura, the capital of Papua until November in 2014. Head of the Reproduction Health Center of Jayapura Toma Heppy said here on Saturday the HIV carriers are treated only as outpatients with regular control. "But AIDs carriers have to be sent to the Abepura state hospital for more intensive treatment," Toma said. He said most of the 40 people known to have been infected by HIV were women. "There are few men coming for the test," he said, adding every month more than 300 people including children coming for the test. Earlier, the Southeast Sulawesi Health service said the number of the HIV/AIDs carriers in that province grew in 2014 from the previous year. Head of the regional health service Asrun Tombili said the number of people infected by the fatal disease in the province reached 158 in the first 10 months of 2014 as against only 103 in the whole of 2013. (Uu.H-ASG/F001)
Editorial: Open Up Papua to The Light of Truth
By Jakarta Globe on 12:27 am Jan 23, 2015
Papua remains a big mystery to the Indonesian public. Even Papuans don’t know what exactly happens in their own homeland. For one thing, we have long been made to believe it is the Free Papua Organization, or OPM, that threatens the area and its people, but we wonder just how many they number and why thousands of security officers have failed to deal with them after years hunting them down. Our guess is that the unrest is deliberately perpetuated because it benefits the ruling elites in Papua and Jakarta. Another mystery is what is it the authorities are keeping hidden in Papua such that the news media, especially the foreign press, is denied a peek. Are they concealing the mass graves of native Papuans? Or crimes such as illegal logging and the destruction of the environment? If there are no human rights violations, environmental destruction or illegal logging taking place there, then why the fear of opening up? We got a glimpse of what really goes on there when in 2013 a low-ranking police officer, Labora Sitorus, was linked to Rp 1.5 trillion ($120 million) bank transactions. He was eventually convicted of illegal logging and fuel smuggling — rackets that could not have been carried out for years without his superiors being aware or involved. Papua is blessed with abundant natural resources, but its people have benefited little as a result. The biggest single taxpayer in Indonesia, Freeport Indonesia, which operates a copper and gold mine there, has paid $15.2 billion in taxes, royalties, dividends and other direct payments, and $26.1 billion indirectly, from 1992 to 2013 — yet Papua remains the poorest region in the republic. It is high time we draw back the curtain on these mysteries and bring the truth to light.
Three more members of armed group arrested in Jayapura
Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura Wed, January 28 2015
Three more members of an armed group led by Puron Wenda were arrested at a trade center in Jayapura, Papua, on Wednesday. The three, identified as Rais Wenda, 27, Albert Jikwa, 29, and Fredi Kagoya, 15, were arrested as they traveled on a minibus in the Papua Trade Center in the city. Papua Provincial Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rudolf Patrige said the three were still undergoing an intensive interrogation in connection with their alleged involvement in recent bloody assaults in Timika and Jayapura.“But the three are being grilled on their status as witnesses to the incidents,” he said. The arrest of the three was conducted by the police following the arrest of two other members of the armed group in Wamena on Saturday. Patrige denied spreading rumors that an Army soldier had been arrested for selling guns and ammunition to the armed group. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Fransen G. Siahaan, chief of the Cendrawasih Military Command overseeing Papua and West Papua, also denied the rumors and said that only the three members of the armed group were arrested in a joint raid launched by the police and the military in the province. (rms)(+++)
TNI to severely punish weapon sellers
Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post January 29 2015
The Indonesian Military (TNI) will impose severe punishments on any of its personnel who try to sell weapons or any other military equipment to members of the separatist movement in Papua. “Selling bullets and military weapons are totally forbidden for military personnel. It’s almost like they want to kill their own comrades. So, if we discover this, the personnel will be automatically discharged and must be brought before a military court,” TNI spokesperson Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta on Thursday. It has been reported that a soldier was arrested for selling guns and ammunition to members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). Fuad said the military was very careful in storing its ammunition and it was impossible for soldiers to simply grab the bullets from the armory. He assumed the illicit ammunition had been misappropriated during range training. “Perhaps the soldier uses only 10 bullets during training, but reports having used up more. It is the only possibility,” he explained. According to Fuad, one soldier has been arrested and the military police will try to discover whether there are other soldiers involved in the case. (nfo)(+++)
Air Force to beef up presence, at air bases near borders
Extract from Jakarta Post (5 Feb.)
The Indonesian Air Force plans to increase operations at bases near its borders in an effort to deter threats of incursion. “We must pay attention to several air bases and put more forces in those areas so that other countries will not infringe upon our territorial integrity,” newly installed Air Force chief of staff Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna announced after a leadership meeting in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Wednesday. Agus said the Air Force would focus on five military air bases; the Soewondo military air base in Medan, North Sumatra; the Ranai military air base in Natuna, Riau Islands; the Tarakan military air base in Tarakan, East Kalimantan; the El Tari military air base in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara; and the Jayapura military air base in Papua.
Opinion pieces/reports/press releases etc.
Papuans Have Heard Jokowi’s Promises, but Is the President Listening?
Book. The Incubus of Intervention (Conflicting Indonesia Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles) Author/Editor: Greg Poulgrain
From mongabay.com (includes maps/photos)
DFAT reply to AWPA letter re 8 Dec. killings
AWPA report – West Papua 2014 Year in Review
PANIAI SHOOTINGS – MAKE INVESTIGATION FINDINGS PUBLIC AND BRING PERPETRATORS TO JUSTICE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT
Papua’s Hidden Past Haunts Jokowi Presidency
A NEW HOPE FOR PAPUA
Human Rights Watch World Report 2015
Indonesian country report at http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/indonesia?page=1
Full report at http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015
UN presses Indonesia on human rights progress report
There are Continued Calls for Freedom as Villages Burn in West Papua
January 27, 2015
by Paul Gregoire
Earlier this month, Indonesian forces reportedly burned down villages and conducted mass arrests across the province of West Papua. VICE spoke to Independence leader Benny Wenda about reports of worsening repression.
According to Wenda, the attacks took place in the region surrounding the West Papuan mountain town of Timika, where troops burned down a village named Banti on January 14, forcing many villagers to flee into the jungle. It was the second such incident in the week, as earlier reports told of up to 116 villagers being arrested and tortured in the town of Utikini.
Indonesian police and soldiers arresting West Papuans in Utikini village in the Timika area of West Papua a few days ago.
Benny Wenda, who received these reports, labeled these actions as a "collective punishment" dished out by Indonesian forces in response to the shooting of two Indonesian officers and a Freeport mine security guard in the Timika region on January 1.
The Indonesian army and police have dispatched 500 personnel into the area to pursue a group of men, led by Ayub Waker of the West Papua liberation army (TPN), who they claim carried out the shootings. While Papua police chief inspector generalYotje Mende told the Jakarta Post that only 13 people had been detained as part of the raid on Utikini.
These are the latest incidents in a continuing cycle of violence in the restive region of West Papua, since Indonesia began its occupation 53 years ago.
"We are under constant watch by the Indonesian military, who are on the lookout for more excuses to kill us," said Wenda, international lobbyist for the Free West Papua Campaign. "There are over 40,000 Indonesian soldiers in West Papua and that figure is increasing."
West Papuan protester risks his life by raising his national flag in front of Indonesian riot police.
According to Wenda the extra troops are being sent into the Timika region in an attempt to "draw the world’s attention away from the five West Papuan children who were murdered by the Indonesian military last month."
On December 8, five high school students were killed in the town of Enarotali, after Indonesian security forces allegedly shot into a crowd of 800 West Papuans. The crowd was protesting a scuffle that occurred between troops and children putting up Christmas decorations the previous evening, which resulted in a 13-year-old boy being beaten by officers. Up to 20 other civilians were also injured in the incident.
On January 14, the National Police Headquarters announced they have set up a fact-finding team to investigate the shootings. The team has been established under the orders of Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who called for the investigation during a visit to the province on December 27.
This tragedy and the response of Widodo, who was elected last July, have dashed hopes that he will bring about promised improvements and ease political tensions in West Papua. Wenda believes that Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, will continue in the same pattern as previous governments, occupying the resource-rich region and repressing the people for financial purposes.
"What kind of president allows the murder of five children by his military and does not even make a single statement until there is a lot of international pressure for him to do so?" Wenda questioned. "I don’t believe that Jokowi will be of any benefit to West Papuan’s human rights or for our self-determination."
Prospects of improvements were further quashed when in late October the newly-appointed Indonesian minister of villages and transmigration, Marwan Jafar, announced that he would be continuing the government’s transmigration program into West Papua.
Wenda said that the program is an attempt to marginalise the West Papuan people by moving large amounts of Indonesian migrants into the region. He’s heard reports that a ship carrying migrants is on its way to West Papua at the moment.
"In 1971, we West Papuans made up 96 percent of the population. But now they make up only 49 percent due to Indonesia’s systematic mass transmigration. We’re forcibly evicted out of our villages and our forests are cut down to make way for transmigration camps," he said. "The government began to send masses of transmigrants just after 1969."
1969 was the year that the Act of Free Choice was carried out. In 1962 the New York Agreement resulted in Indonesian rule of West Papua, after the Netherlands, the former coloniser, left. Following widespread resistance to this rule, the UN brokered Act of Free Choice referendum was undertaken. It was supposed to give the West Papuan population a choice between remaining part of Indonesia or becoming an independent nation. But only 1062 West Papuan representatives were allowed to vote and under threat of death, all of them voted to stay with Indonesia.
Papuans from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) protest for freedom.
The human rights organisation Australian West Papua Association Sydney recently released its West Papua 2014 Year in Review report. And AWPA Secretary Joe Collins said the report shows that the situation is not getting any better. "From January till the end of December there have been shootings. Every time there is a shooting, the military will respond and all they’re doing is traumatising the people," he said.
The report also outlines the increased intimidation of journalists. Two French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois were arrested in August and initially faced up to five years in jail for reporting on the West Papuan separatist movement. They were eventually given a shorter sentence and released at the end of October. Collins sees this as a change in tack for Indonesian authorities.
"Normally when overseas journalists are arrested they are just deported and that’s it. The fact that they were kept for two and half months and could have faced a lot longer sentence is almost like the Indonesians are upping the ante and trying to send a message to international journalists," he said.
West Papuans protest for freedom, Wamena 2011.
A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Wenda now lives in Oxford after being granted political asylum by the British government in 2003. He fled West Papua after being imprisoned by Indonesian troops on charges he that his statments were politically motivated because of his involvement in the independence movement.
"The only way forward for West Papua is the fulfilment of our self-determination and independence. We’re campaigning every day to bring international pressure to the United Nations so that a free and fair referendum on independence will be held for all West Papuans," Wenda said.
Although the Indonesia government split West Papua into two provinces in 2002, this article refers to the whole region as West Papua, as the indigenous people of West Papua do.
All images courtesy ofthe Free West Papua Campaign.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulrgregoire