|The Pacific’s state of independence – Policy Forum
Australian policymakers have to adapt to a new reality of national independence among key Pacific island nations, writes Stewart Firth.
The Pacific’s state of independence
Melanesia is becoming a region of many partners, expanding diplomatic options and a new sense of independence –
Stewart Firth 1 February 2016
Australian policymakers have to adapt to a new reality of national independence among key Pacific island nations, writes Stewart Firth.
The Papua New Guinea government recently removed fifteen Australian advisers from its public service, as promised in mid-2015. The Australians were working in the departments of finance, transport, treasury and justice, key parts of the country’s administrative structure. The PNG government left eighteen others where they were and the advisers’ departure is not likely to disturb good relations between PNG and Australia.
Yet the event symbolises a new sense of national independence in PNG, one shared with two of the other three independent Melanesian countries; Solomon Islands and Fiji. The three Melanesian states are expressing a new willingness to go their own way whatever Australia might think. Vanuatu, the fourth, has an independent foreign policy but is too small (population 258,000) to exercise much influence internationally.
PNG seeks regional leadership in the Pacific, and has become an aid donor to neighbouring Pacific Island countries, offering Solomon Islands almost AUD$40m for a five year development program and giving assistance to Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Palau. The PNG of 2016 is emboldened by its resources boom, which is experiencing a temporary dip but is likely to surge again by the early 2020s. In an unprecedented initiative for a Melanesian country, PNG will host the APEC leaders’ meeting in Port Moresby in 2018 (with a great deal of security assistance from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Israel).
Even Solomon Islands, the beneficiary of a decade’s presence of the Regional Assistance Mission led by Australia, is diversifying its international links, establishing new diplomatic missions in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Havana in 2013; and Wellington in 2014.
Nowhere is the new Melanesian independence clearer than in Fiji. The 2006 military coup delivered power into the hands of a military commander – Frank Bainimarama – who later abrogated the constitution and ruled for years by decree before finally bowing to international opinion and holding an election in 2014. Australia and New Zealand imposed extensive travel bans, ensured Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum (the key regional organisation) and isolated Fiji diplomatically.
Bainimarama mounted a counter-response, one that has become a permanent feature of Fiji’s international stance. Fiji joined the Non-Aligned Movement and extended its diplomatic reach, setting up new embassies in South Africa, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. At the UN, Fiji made the Pacific Small Islands Developing States group (eleven Pacific countries) an effective grouping, and in 2013 was chair of the G77, the UN grouping of 134 developing countries. Fiji grew notably closer to China, sending military officers to Beijing for training, accepting a significant amount of Chinese aid and welcoming investment in Fiji mining by Chinese companies. Fiji rolled out the red carpet for Xi Jinping when he visited Fiji in 2014, and Fiji soldiers participated in China’s V-Day parade in 2015.
As elsewhere, China in the South Pacific is a strict observer of the sovereignty of independent countries and saw no problem in maintaining good relations with a military regime. Bainimarama regularly thanks the Chinese government for standing by his government during the post-coup years when it was being isolated by Australia and New Zealand.
Regionally, Bainimarama has competed with Australia and New Zealand. Suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum [PIF], he formed one of his own, and it excludes the Australians and New Zealanders. This is the Pacific Islands Development Forum [PIDF], whose annual meetings are timed to create maximum embarrassment by taking place a week before the Forum meeting itself, an approach that allows Fiji to pose as a regional leader of small island states with their interests at heart, in contrast (intentionally) to Australia and New Zealand. The PIDF produced a strong declaration on climate change last September, for example, a few days before Australian and New Zealand diplomats struggled to make the PIF’s own declaration sound stronger than it actually was.
Another regional organisation – one that has never enjoyed support from Australia – is also growing in influence. The Melanesian Spearhead Group [MSG] is the organisation of independent Melanesian countries (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) plus one political party, the pro-independence Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) from the French territory of New Caledonia.
The MSG now includes Indonesia as an associate member, added in 2015 when Indonesia became aware that the Melanesian countries wanted to offer some kind of membership to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. On her visit to Melanesia in 2015, the Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi declared that “Indonesia is home to more than 11 million Melanesians. So Indonesia is Melanesia and Melanesia is Indonesia. We share a common land border and culture with our next biggest Melanesian country, PNG.” Jakarta was soon writing handsome cheques for Melanesian governments.
The Pacific Islands have been largely spared from the savage aid cuts made by Australia’s former Tony Abbott-led government, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been adept at diplomacy in the islands, but Australian foreign policy-makers need to adapt to the new reality of our nearest neighbours. Melanesia is becoming a region of many partners, expanding diplomatic options and a new sense of independence from Australia. The wider context of the new Melanesian assertiveness is one in which China is a rising power and Indonesia is forging closer links with the western Pacific.
This article is based on George Carer and the author’s paper in Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, The mood in Melanesia after the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.
This article is published in collaboration with the Devpolicy Blog, a platform for the best in aid and development analysis, research and policy comment, with a focus on Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
2) A Peaceful Decade but Pacific Islanders Warn Against Complacency
By Catherine Wilson
CANBERRA, Australia, Jan 29 2016 (IPS) – The Pacific Islands conjures pictures of swaying palm trees and unspoiled beaches. But, after civil wars and unrest since the 1980’s, experts in the region are clear that Pacific Islanders cannot afford to be complacent about the future, even after almost a decade of relative peace and stability. And preventing conflict goes beyond ensuring law and order.
“Future stability is far from assured in the Pacific, or indeed any region of the world,” Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary-General of the Fiji-based Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), supported by conflict prevention adviser, Tim Bryar, told IPS.
“Research shows that the greatest predictor of future conflict is past conflict. Therefore, places such as Bougainville and New Caledonia which not only have a history of civil war, but also the presence of unaddressed potential root causes of conflict, such as extractive activities and inter-ethnic tensions…would suggest that we need to be vigilant,” she continued.
Frida Bani-Sam of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy in Vanuatu said that with rising socioeconomic inequalities being a major conflict risk, “the onus is on good leadership at the helm, leadership that can ensure economic and social stability, now and into the future.”
The most serious post-Second World War fray in the region was the decade long Bougainville civil war (1989-98) in Papua New Guinea, triggered by local grievances about inequitable benefit sharing from the foreign-owned Panguna copper mine and environmental devastation. An estimated 15,000-20,000 people or 10 per cent of the population lost their lives and infrastructure and the economy were decimated.
In the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, located southwest of Fiji, inequality and loss of land fuelled pro-independence resistance and unrest in the mid-1980s. Local expectations will intensify with referendums on independence due to be held in New Caledonia in 2018 and Bougainville by 2020.
The Solomon Islands, which neighbours Bougainville, also experienced a five-year conflict, known as the ‘Tensions’ (1998-2003), ending with a regional peacekeeping intervention. Hostilities escalated over land dispossession to internal migrants and foreign investors on Guadalcanal Island, exacerbated by lack of economic opportunities and failure of governance to address the rising violence. An estimated 50,000 people were displaced, thousands experienced human rights abuses and development plummeted.
Root causes, such as inequality, land disputes, fragile governance and youth unemployment, remain sources of tensions in the region today, according to the PIFS.
A broad section of the region’s population is affected by unemployment, but youth, who account for about 54 per cent, are particularly vulnerable. Population growth rates in small Pacific Island states far exceed their capacity to generate jobs, even for those with education, and youth unemployment ranges from 16 per cent in Samoa to 46 per cent in the Solomon Islands.
In north Bougainville, Dorcas Gano, President of the Hako Women’s Collective told IPS that “our small towns and struggling economy cannot cater to white collar employment for more than a very few.”
The collective is looking for ways to address “the need for rural employment skills or qualified training for the vast majority of youth who miss out on progressing past Grades 8 and 10. If these needs are not urgently addressed then ‘rascal-ism’ will rise and could lead to future unrest.”
Disenfranchised youth were drawn to the ‘Tensions,’ riots in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, in 2006 and civil unrest the same year in the Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa, when hundreds expressed anger at stalled government progress toward democracy.
But Bani-Sam emphasised that young people must be part of the solution, declaring that “youth, being the next generation of leaders, need to be empowered so they can participate meaningfully in the development conversation.”
For the vast majority of Pacific Islanders without formal employment, access to customary land is crucial for shelter, social security and subsistence and market food production. But influences such as the global cash-based economy and corruption, particularly when access to natural resources is involved, have aggravated land disputes.
“If we accept the existing [development] model which supports private property ownership and strongly links economic development to commodity extraction, then I think corruption is, of course, a problem because the money made from economic activities on land tends to not reach the customary custodians of the land, let alone the general population,” Dame Meg Taylor remarked.
Preventative approaches must include full implementation of free, informed and prior consent by traditional landowners “and by ‘full implementation’, I mean that governments must be willing to accept that some landowners may not want to consent to handing over their land,” she added.
Tackling the causes of land-related violence is a priority. The approach of the PIFS is to bridge traditional and western land management practices by, for instance, clarifying customary landowner rights and responsibilities of both governments and landowners in land dealings.
But there is also wider corruption involving politicians, public officials and organised criminals, named as a threat to development and stability during a regional security meeting in 2013.
State capture is acknowledged to have contributed to the ‘Tensions.’ A background paper commissioned by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reports that “national politicians were noticeably in the pocket of various Asian logging companies seeking and gaining ready access to the Solomon Islands’ forests for logging rights in return for bribes and sweeteners” and “a range of actors, including ex-militants, politicians and businessmen, benefitted financially from the violence and disorder,” which ensued.
Bani-Sam points out that climate induced migration, together with rapid population growth, could also increase pressures on land and resources and “the risk of conflict cannot be ignored.” But the risk diminishes if the resettlement of communities and relationships with host landowners are well managed, experts say.
Preventing future conflict is a priority at the regional level. The PIFS aims to improve access to justice for marginalised groups, include women in peace and security decision-making and strengthen weapons control and traditional conflict resolution processes.
The Biketawa Declaration is a declaration agreed to by all the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum constituting a framework for coordinating response to regional crises. The declaration was agreed to at the 31st Summit of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, held at Kiribati in October 2000 after the 2000 Fijian coup d’état and ethnic tensions in the Solomon Islands.
This declaration also provides for rapid regional responses to crises in island states. The Biketawa Declaration has led to military and police forces as well as civilian personnel of Forum states, chiefly Australia and New Zealand, participating in regional peacekeeping and stabilization operations in Solomon Islands (2003-), Nauru (2004-2009) and Tonga (2006.)
People are taking action at the local level, too. In Bougainville, the Hako Women’s Collective works on meaningful reconciliation which is vital to rebuilding trust and conflict resilience in communities.
“We live in a very tolerant and peaceful community where everyone has chosen to live above the situation, but underneath the surface there is frozen trauma….Relatives don’t mention the mass graves in town covered by new infrastructure or the beatings and near deaths during interrogations. We are working quietly alongside other leaders to negotiate reconciliation in these matters,” Gano explained.
But going to the heart of the problem, Dame Meg Taylor believes that ensuring sustainable peace and development also depends on “a structural shift in the development paradigm.” That is, rethinking the extractive economic focus, which has failed to alleviate hardship and inequality, and seeking one that will build fair and prosperous Pacific Island societies, the best insurance against future conflict.
also in Bahasa Indonesia: https://www.hrw.org/id/world-report/2016/country-chapters/286224
Events of 2015
- Religious Freedom
- Women’s and Girls’ Rights
- Military Reform and Impunity
- Disability Rights
- Refugees and Asylum Seekers
- Key International Actors
President Joko Widodo’s record during his first year in office was mixed. His administration signaled it would more actively defend the rights of Indonesia’s beleaguered religious minorities, victimized by both Islamist militants and discriminatory laws, but made few concrete policy changes. He granted clemency in May to five of Papua’s political prisoners and released another one in October, but at time of writing had not freed the approximately 70 Papuans and 29 Ambonese still imprisoned for peaceful advocacy of independence.
In May, the presidentcommonly referred to as Jokowiannounced the lifting of decades-old restrictions on foreign media access to Papua but then did not follow through, allowing senior government officials to effectively defy the new policy without consequences. In August, Jokowi announced that the government would form a “reconciliation commission” to address gross human rights abuses of the past 50 years, but left out the details.
Jokowi’s outspoken support for the death penalty and his decision to make execution of convicted drug traffickers a symbol of his resolve reflected serious backsliding on his reform agenda. Indonesia executed 14 convicted drug traffickers in 2015, including a Brazilian who reportedly had severe mental disabilities, in the face of intense international criticism. Under Jokowi’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia had executed only 20 people in 10 years.
Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations, the Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, declared their commitment to promote human rights, campaign against violence committed in the name of Islam, and dampen Sunni-Shia sectarian divisions.
Starting in August and continuing through November, thick haze from fires set during annual forest clearing produced an environmental and health crisis in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Singapore, and Malaysia. In response, the National Police arrested seven plantation executives, including one from Singapore-based Asia Pulp and Paper, and fined dozens of other palm oil companies.
There were 194 incidents of violent attacks on religious minorities in the first 11 months of 2015, according to the Setara Institute, a nongovernmental organization that tracks religious intolerance. That number equals the total for all of 2014, demonstrating that religious violence remains a serious problem.
Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Saifuddin took steps in 2015 to more actively counter harassment of religious minorities, a welcome change after a decade of passivity and at times complicity by officials. In January 2015, Saifuddin took to Twitter to defend an academic in Aceh province who had been falsely accused of committing blasphemy on campus. In August, Saifuddin announced that his ministry was drafting a bill to ensure religious freedom for all Indonesians, "including those outside the six main religions of Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.”
On June 15, after the Aceh Ulama Council declared the Gerakan Fajar Nusantara sect to be “heretical,” the Banda Aceh district court convicted the sect’s leader and five members of blasphemy, sentencing them to prison terms of three to four years. In October, local authorities in Singkil regency, Aceh, forced Christians to close 10 churches after Muslim militants burned down one church. A Muslim was shot to death in a clash outside one of the churches.
Also in June, the Constitutional Court rejected a petition to allow inter-religious marriage, ruling that the 1974 Marriage Law was valid because it legalized marriage “in accordance with the respective religious beliefs of the bride and groom.”
On July 8, the South Jakarta district administration ordered the closure of an Ahmadiyah mosque in Bukit Duri in response to pressure from Sunni militants. That same month, three churches were forced to close in Bandar Lampung, Yogyakarta, and Samarinda.
On July 17, ethnic Papuan Christian militants demanded that a mosque in Tolikara district, Papua, not use a loudspeaker to broadcast its Idul Fitri prayer, burning down the mosque and dozens of nearby food stalls when mosque authorities refused to heed their demand. Security officers fired at the protesters, killing one and wounding 11 others.
On September 2, the Islamic People’s Forum (Forum Umat Islam), a militant group connected to the Indonesian Ulama Council, declared that Sapta Darma traditional faith believers in Rembang, Central Java, were “blasphemers” and forced them to stop renovations to their temple. Police and government officials refused to intervene and instead persuaded the Sapta Darma to delay the renovations for an unspecified period of time.
Women’s and Girls’ Rights
Indonesia’s official Commission on Violence against Women reported that as of October, national and local governments had passed 31 new discriminatory regulations in 2015, leaving Indonesia with 322 discriminatory local regulations targeting women.
The Indonesian armed forces and police require female applicants to undergo abusive, discriminatory, and unscientific “virginity tests.” After Human Rights Watch research put a spotlight on the issue in 2015, some officials criticized continued use of the tests but did not ban them. “We need to examine the mentality of these [female] applicants. If they are no longer virgins, if they are naughty, it means their mentality is not good,” said Indonesian military spokesman Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya.
In July, the Ministry of Defense issued a regulation allowing male employees to take second wives if their first wives are unable to bear children. The regulation forbids female personnel from practicing polygamy. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has emphasized that “polygamy violates the dignity of women,” constitutes “inadmissible discrimination against women,” and “should be definitely abolished wherever it continues to exist.”
In June, the Constitutional Court rejected a petition to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18. Only one judge, the sole woman on the nine-member panel, dissented. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Indonesia ratified in 1990, defines a child as anyone under age 18, and the CRC Committee has determined that 18 should be the minimum age for marriage regardless of parental consent.
Indonesian authorities continue to restrict access by foreign journalists and rights monitors to Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua, raising serious concerns about the government’s commitment to media freedom.
The Jokowi government has sought to take a new approach to the provinces of Papua and West Papua (“Papua”), home to a low-level insurgency and a larger peaceful pro-independence movement. On May 9, Jokowi visited the Abepura prison and released five political prisoners, promising to release other Papuans imprisoned for political crimes in consultation with the parliament. There were at least 45 political prisoners in Papua at the end of September, according to the monitoring group “Papuans Behind Bars.” Papua’s most famous political prisoner, Filep Karma, was released in October.
Meanwhile, suppression of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Papua continued. On May 20-22, police detained dozens of activists of the West Papua National Committee, a pro-independence group, during peaceful rallies in the cities of Jayapura, Manokwari, and Merauke. Police subsequently arrested four of those activistsAlexander Nekenem, Yoram Magai, Mikael Aso, dan Narko Muribon charges of “public incitement.” In November, they were sentenced to one-and-a-half year jail terms.
New incidents of security force violence also continue to be reported. Two allegedly drunken soldiers opened fire on a crowd in Koperapoka, Mimika regency, on August 27, killing two people and wounding two others. In December 2014, security forces allegedly shot and killed five peaceful protesters in the town of Enarotali; a year later, the government had still not released the results of official investigations into the shootings or arrested any suspects.
On May 10, President Jokowi announced the lifting of restrictions on foreign media access to Papua. A month later, the Foreign Ministry announced the abolition of the “Clearing House” that had screened Papua access applications of foreigners for decades. But numerous senior government and security forces officials balked and openly resisted the change. In August, the Ministry of Home Affairs unveiled a new regulation that would have imposed onerous new reporting restrictions on foreign media nationwide. Jokowi ordered its cancellation the next day. However, the National Police still require accredited foreign journalists to apply for a travel permit to visit Papua, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also still requires such journalists “to notify” the ministry of their schedules and activities in Papua.
Military Reform and Impunity
In June, the government announced it would establish a “reconciliation commission” to seek a “permanent solution for all unresolved human rights abuses,” including the 1965 anti-communist massacres that killed an estimated one million people and numerous other gross human rights violations since that time.
The government did not provide details about how the commission would work, apart from saying it would not conduct investigations into specific abuses but focus on creating a “settlement mechanism” for victims and their survivors. As such, it appeared highly unlikely it would include powers to pursue criminal accountability for the most responsible senior officials, despite continuing demands for justice from victims.
In August Brig. Gen. Hartomo was promoted to become governor of the Military Academy in Magelang. In 2003, Hartomo, then Special Forces commander in Papua, was tried and convicted by a military tribunal for his involvement in the killing of Papuan leader Theys Eluay.
Tens of thousands of Indonesians with psychosocial disabilities spend their lives chained or locked up in homes or institutions instead of receiving community-based mental health care. The government passed a new mental health law in 2014 to address Indonesia’s dire mental health care situation but has yet to implement it.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, pending in the Indonesian parliament at time of writing, was expected to pass in 2016. While the bill represents a major advancement, activists say it does not fully comply with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Indonesia ratified in 2011.
Refugees and Asylum Seekers
In May, the government acceded to international pressure and began rescuing boatloads of ethnic Rohingya from Burma and Bangladesh stranded at sea for weeks on poorly provisioned, unseaworthy vessels. Although Indonesia agreed to bring rescued asylum seekers and migrants ashore, it said that they would only be sheltered temporarily and would need to be resettled to third countries after a year.
As of August, there were 13,110 refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia, all living in legal limbo because Indonesia is not a party to the Refugee Convention and lacks an asylum law. This included 1,095 children detained in immigration centers, of which 461 were unaccompanied minors.
Key International Actors
The United States, an important trade partner, continued to seek closer military ties with Indonesia. President Jokowi made his first state visit to the US in October, but it was cut short because of the Asian haze crisis, and neither side publicly addressed human rights issues. Jokowi focused largely on attracting US-based companies to invest more in Indonesia. In April, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom again placed Indonesia in Tier 2, the second worst category, where it has been since 2003.
In June, the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional organization largely made up of southern Pacific island nations, gave observer status to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, the umbrella organization of pro-independence Papuans.
Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors after Indonesia executed citizens of the two countries on January 18 for drug crimes. Australia similarly recalled its ambassador after Indonesia executed two Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, on April 29.
Statement by the Executive Director of the LP3BH
19 January, 2016
The statement by the US Ambassador to Indonesia, Dr Robert O.
Blake, that his government attaches great importance to the human
rights situation and the Special Autonomy Law for the Land of Papua in
the relationship between his country and Indonesia should be warmly
welcomed by all forces in the Land of Papua.
What this means is that the US Government has placed the issue of
human rights and Special Autonomy for West Papua as an important
issue within the context of the bilateral relations between the two
It is therefore clear that the meeting that took place a year ago
between President Joko Widodo of Indonesia and President Barack Obama
of the USA is an integral part of
of the discussions between the two countries.
At the meeting last year, the two presidents paid attention to the
situation in the Land of Papua. Moreover, this means is that human
rights is not just about violations of Law 26/2000 on Human Rights
Courts but also about other issues as well, such as social, economic
and cultural rights and rights with regard to the exploitation of our
natural resources and other basic rights of the indigenous Papuan
By taking such a position, we can expect that the US government
will also strengthen its advocacy to uphold the rule of law as well as
dealing with the many human rights that were violated in the past.
This means that it is even more important that investigation and
bringing to justice all the many violations that occurred over the
past fifty years in the Land of Papua should be fought for all the
more tenaciously by the Papuan people.
The fact that Ambassador Dr. Blake is paying attention to the
Special Autonomy for Papua means that it is all the more necessary for
civil society and the provincial administrations of Papua and West
Papua to go on struggling for concrete measures to be taken to
reinforce this policy.
It is even more important for us to undertake a comprehensive
evaluation of the implementation of the Special Autonomy Law in the
Land of Papua and identify the measures that need to be taken to bring
about significant changes in the situation as stipulated in Articles
77 and 78 of Law 21/2001.
Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive Director of the LP3BH – Institute
for Research, Analysis and Development of Legal Aid, Recipient of the
John Humphreys Freedom Award, Canada in 2005.
[Translated by Carmel Budiardjo, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, 1995]
On Sunday 17th January 2016, I had the opportunity of meeting His
Excellency, Ambassador Robert Blake of the USA when he was on a visit
At the meeting which lasted about 45 minutes, Ambassador Blake
asked me about the views of my organisation, the LP3BH. Ambassador
Blake asked me about the general situation in West Papua and recent
developments as well as the human rights situation here in West Papua
and he also wanted to know about the policy of President Joko Widodo
towards Papua and West Papua.
I told the Ambassador that the situatiion here continues to be
highly unsatisfactory in view of the many cases of human rights
violations, none of which had been dealt with in a court of law.
I referred in particular to the various laws and regulations that
were now in force, such as Law on Human Rights 39/1999 and Law 26/2000
on Human Rights Courts. In addition, I drew his attention to Law
21/2001 on Special Autonomy for the Province of West Papua, as amended
by Law 35/2008.
I referred in particular to a number of cases of grave human rights
violations such as the Wasior Case (2001), the Wamena Case (2002), the
Paniai Case (8th December (2014), the Tolikara Case (2015) when eleven
civilians were shot and wounded, whereas none of these cases has been
dealt with in a law court.
Ambassador Blake was very concerned about all these incidents and
the failure up to the present day by the Government of Indonesia to
deal with any these cases.
Ambassador Blake said that his government would guarantee that all
those who had ben responsble for these violations would be excluded
from any its governmental programmes related to education and human
Speaking as a lawyer and a Human Rights Defender, I submitted a
written report to Ambassador Robert Blake, hoping that this would be
handed over to the US Government.
I also told Ambassador Blake that these matters were now being
seriously considered by various governments which were members of the
Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and members of the Pacific Islands
Forum. I drew his attention to the fact that the United Liberation
Movement for West Papua had been gratned obsever status by the MSG
in June 2015.
The result of all this was that these various regional state groups
had pressed for a fact-finding human rights mission to be sent to
West Papua and Papua.
I also expressed the opinion that all these serious cases should be
considered by the Government of the USA as the only way to strengthen
democracy and peace throughout the Land of Papua.
With regard to the security situation in the Land of Papua, I
stressed that the security forces now based in the Land of Papua
should be instructed not to used firearms to handle the situation in
the Land of Papua.but to deal with these incidents with peaceful
means, instead of using the force of arms.
. I also urged the US Government to exert pressure on the Government
of Indonesia, under President Joko Widodo to respond to the peaceful
moves that had been taken by Papuan NGOs to resolve the social
conflicts in the Land of Papua.
Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive-Drector of the LP3BH, Institute for
Research, Investigation and the Delopment of
Legal Aid, Recipient of the John Humphrey Freedom Award, 2005, Canada.
Translated by Carmel Budiardjo, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, 1995.
A new video has just been published on the Biak Tribunal website (http://www.biak-tribunal.org/) Mama Tineke Returns Home by Wensislaus Fatubun.
Mrs. Tineke Rumakabu, a victim of the extreme violence of the Biak massacre, was divorced by her first husband because of the shame he felt after her rape and torture. Mama Tineke then had to leave her village and children. In January 2013, I first met Mama Tineke. She now lives with her new husband in Sorido village. Mama Tineke and her husband are figureheads of the non-violent movement of the Biak people against the oppressive and cruel Indonesian government. Together with colleagues, Mama Tineke and her husband document human rights violations and continue to mobilize the Biak people, especially the women, through group discussion and prayer groups. In late 2015 Mama Tineke returned to her village and children. This documentary captures her homecoming and the long and painful journey preceding it. It also seeks to show that the spirit of nationalism in West Papua continues to thrive.
Watch the video on-line: http://www.biak-tribunal.org/
AHRC. Urgent action-Three indigenous Papuans arbitrarily arrested, tortured and currently waiting for an uncertain justice
AHRC. Urgent action-Three indigenous Papuans arbitrarily arrested, tortured and currently waiting for an uncertain justice
An urgent action from the ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION concerning three indigenous Papuans who were arbitrarily arrested, tortured and who are currently waiting for an uncertain justice. The appeal below. The AHRC makes kit easy for people to respond to the appeal with sample letter etc.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from a local network in Papua regarding the arbitrary arrest and torture of three indigenous Papuans, namely ElieserAwom (26), Yafeth Awom (18) dan Soleman Yom (24). They were arrested by four police officers in plain clothes at 11 pm in Deplat, Base-G Jayapura. The police officers drove the three men in a silver car in the direction of West Sentani. On the way they were tortured, intimidated and forced to admit that they had stolen a motorcycle.
On 27 Augsut 2015, four police officers in plain clothes arbitrarily arrested three Papuan men named Elieser Awom (26), Yafeth Awom (18) dan SolemanYom (24) in Deplat, near the Base G Beach in Jayapura, Papua province. The arrest was not carried out in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure (KUHAP), because they had no arrest warrant or clear evidence of the involvement of the victims in a criminal offence.
At 11 am, Yafeth, Elieser and Soleman were walking from the mini market near BLK (Work Training Center) to their homes. On the way, a silver Toyota Avansa was seen parked nearby. As the three men were walking, four police officers approached them and forced them to enter their car. They did not produce an arrest warrant letter. One of the police officers wore the trousers of his police uniform (celana Dinas) and carried a gun while the other officers wore civilian clothing and carried a knife and a revolver.
Inside the car the police officers beat the victims, tortured them with a lighted cigarette and forced them to confess their involvment in a motorcycle theft…….
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta -Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir denied that the Foreign Ministry has imposed a ban against foreign journalists from entering Papua to cover human rights cases. According to Fachir, journalists can enter Papua regardless of reporting material. "There is no ban," said Fachir on Wednesday, January 13, 2016.
Fachir said that foreign journalists will be treated like state guest. For example, the journalists will be questioned about their purpose of visit and whom they will meet during their stay in Indonesia. "But there is no supervision or ban," said Fachir.
Previously, French journalists Cyril Payen was barred from entering Papua after his documentary titled ‘Forgotten War of the Papua‘ was broadcasted on October 18, 2015. Later on November 2015, Payen was declared as a persona non grata and was forbidden to enter West Papua although President Joko Widodo had already revoked the ban on May 2015.
Last year, two French journalists, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, were sentenced to prison after they were caught trying to make a documentary about separatist movement in West Papua.
3) Islands in focus: Whooping cough kills 55 Papuan children –
The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Archipelago | Wed, January 13 2016, 3:21 PM
The deaths of 55 children in Mbuwa district, Nduga regency, Papua, between November 2015 and January have been attributed to pertussis, or whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease.
“Based on the results of lab tests conducted by the Health Ministry the minister has announced that the deaths of the children in Mbuwa were due to pertussis,” said Papua Health Office head Aloysius Giay in Jayapura on Tuesday.
The illness continues to infect children in Mbuwa. Papua People’s Assembly (MPR) member Luis Madai said five children had reportedly died from the disease between the end of December last year and early this month.
“Based on the report from the Nduga Health Office, 55 children died of the disease. The latest report stated that five more children died from the end of December to early January this year,” said Madai.
Since the deaths were reported in Mbuwa, the Health Ministry, the Papua Health Office and children’s welfare groups have made strenuous efforts curb the outbreak. –