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A new take on violence in Indonesian Papua

April 18, 2018

GettyImages-626968530mini.jpg A new take on violence in Indonesian Papua
Violence outside the spectacle of insurgency continues, as mundane as it is pervasive.

The interpreter THURSDAY 19 APR 2018 | 05:41 | SYDNEY

A new take on violence in Indonesian Papua
BY Bobby Anderson
Adrian Morel
18 April 2018 07:00 AEDT

Last year’s “hostage stand-off” in Indonesian Papua had hardly ended before more armed clashes began. Most violence in Papua is assumed to be an issue of indigenous people threatened by the state. But this assumption is anecdotal.

Despite the wealth Indonesia earns through Papua’s abundant natural resources, a dearth of government services results in ordinary Papuans having the lowest incomes, the lowest educational levels, and the highest mortality rates in the country.

Support for independence is certainly widespread. But in an effort to quantitatively analyse violence in Papua and Papua Barat, we examined the 2008–15 National Violence Monitoring System (NVMS), a database of Indonesian district- and provincial-level newspapers.

NVMS was essentially an exercise in collective newspaper reading, where dozens of analysts captured and coded every violent incident reported across Indonesia, digging through provincial archives dating back to 1998.

Most violence and not all killings make the news, especially in Indonesia where large parts of the country lack journalists and police. But NVMS remains the most comprehensive and methodologically sound dataset available. (NVMS regrettably ended in 2015 when the funding expired.)

We studied 2014 data – the final year of NVMS, when it captured 200,000 violent incidents nationwide – and earlier. We honed in on homicide, assuming that this measure would be illustrative of the frequency of other types of violence (assaults, riots, arson) as well.

While our analysis is not yet complete, what we have discovered thus far is revealing: crime kills more Papuans than the state; both crime and insurgency are extremely localised; and security actors tend to ignore violence unless they are targeted. A threadbare state is more apparent than a police state in 2018, as well as 2014. (A draft version of the longer analysis is available for download here.)

Geographic parameters of homicide

Papua province contains 1.2% of Indonesia’s population, and in 2014 was home to 5% of its homicides. Killings were highly localised, with 54% occurring in Mimika Regency and Jayapura city.

Mimika’s homicide rate was 29.2 per 100,000 people – 30 times the national average – matching homicide rates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia. Jayapura city came in a distant second, with 10 homicides per 100,000, equivalent to Haiti and Liberia, and matching the “violence epidemic” standard set by the World Health Organisation.

Crime, separatism, and homicide

In Papua province the leading cause of homicide was crime, which constituted 43.5% of murders. Deaths related to separatism came second, constituting 18% of all homicides from 2010–14. Police and military casualties were counted in this category.

All but one 2014 separatist-related death occurred in Papua province. Papua Barat was, and is, nearly free of such killings.

71% of separatist-related killings in Papua province occurred in four districts, mostly in Puncak Jaya. That district’s 48 deaths also occurred in discrete areas, namely Tingginambut and Mulia. Puncak Jaya was followed by Jayapura city (22), Lanny Jaya (17), Paniai (17), and Puncak (14).

The vast majority of Papua hosted noseparatist-linked homicides.

Separatists kill more and better than security actors

Separatist violence killed more than security actor violence. Between 2010 and 2014, separatist attacks led to 122 deaths; security actor attacks, 43.

Security actor attacks were more frequent and more injurious, wounding 368, in comparison to 194 injured in separatist actions.

Separatist violence was also more targeted. 75% of deaths were security actors, followed by government staff. Civilians constituted only 20% of deaths and 16% of injuries. This compared starkly with security actor violence, where 65% of killings and 72% of injuries were civilians.

If we merge killings by police and military into a sole “state killing” category, across all categories only 5% of 2014 homicides were perpetrated by state actors, which is a small amount given prevailing views of the situation.

Other causes of homicide

In Papua province, crime and separatism as causes of homicides were followed by resource disputes (14.5%, one out of every six resource-linked deaths in Indonesia); mob justice (8.5%); “identity-based” or clan/ethnic violence (8%); domestic violence (5%); and election violence (2%).

The remarkably few election-linked homicides, in a significant reduction on previous years, still represent a quarter of Indonesia’s 2014 elections-related deaths.

2014 and contemporary Papua

Patterns of violence seen in 2014 form a prism through which to view 2018. Papua Barat hosts hardly any separatist activity; separatist violence in Papua remains contained primarily in Puncak Jaya and Mimika.

In the former, since 2015 at least nine civilians, three separatists, and 11 security actors have been murdered, including the TNI Kodim adjunct commander, with numerous people wounded. In the latter, intoxicated soldiers murdered two civilians in 2015 and were jailed.

A long arc of violence in Mimika began in August 2017 and continues. State and separatist violence was not totally confined, with other incidents in Yahukimo and Tolikara. While insurgent violence remains targeted, state violence seems to have become less indiscriminate, a likely legacy of President Joko Widodo’s 2014 election.

And violence outside the spectacle of insurgency continues, as mundane as it is pervasive. Papuan friends may support independence, and they have reason to do so, but they are more concerned about crime, alcohol, and services than state abuses.

The real structural violence found within Papua, and other areas of Indonesia for that matter, is better discerned in a recent measles outbreak, compounded by malnutrition, that killed dozens in Asmat in February this year. This illustrates the absence of services in indigenous areas, and a corruption that kills.

A picture emerges from these figures: the Indonesian state in Papua is regarded as pervasive, but its absenceis glaring. Symptoms of this are found not only in crime and vigilantism, but also in deaths from easily preventable diseases and in illiteracy, among other things.

Papua’s deaths, both spectacular and mundane, hint that, while Indonesia has coherent policies toward Papua’s natural resources, it has no coherent policy toward Papuans.


The interpreter THURSDAY 19 APR 2018 | 05:42 | SYDNEY

Caught in a pincer
BY Ben Bohane

18 April 2018 15:00 AEDT

China, China, China.

All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully ignore the elephant in the room.

Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years has not been China, but Indonesia. Through its “look east” policy, Jakarta has deliberately paralysed the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) while seeking to influence local MPs and political parties across the Pacific to try and stop snowballing regional support for West Papuan independence.

Indonesia already has Peter O’Neill onside in PNG, and Frank Bainimarama in Fiji, and is busy trying to neutralise Vanuatu, Solomons Islands, and Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) leaders in New Caledonia, who are resisting Jakarta’s influence.

The reason Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations are turning to China is because they worry more about Indonesia, which has directly threatened Vanuatu over its strong diplomatic support for the West Papuans.

Vanuatu may be pulling some “muscle” into its corner, feeling it cannot rely on Australia because Canberra continues its supine support of Indonesia, even as Jakarta directly undermines Australian and Pacific island interests.

The accumulative “strategic failure” is not a result of Australia failing to check Chinese influence in Melanesia, but of failing to check Indonesian interference in these nations that are supposed to be on “our patch”.

For decades, islanders thought their “big brothers” Australia and America would defend Pacific peoples, as occurred in the Second World War. Instead, it appears Australia has outsourced security of Melanesia to Indonesia, giving it free rein.

There was a time when the Australian Defence Force worked with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to actively secure PNG’s 800-kilometre border with Indonesia. Today the border is wide open, and my contacts within PNGDF intelligence continue to complain that the Indonesian National Armed Forces routinely violate PNG sovereignty with their patrols, up to a dozen times per year, sometimes even moving the border marking pegs.

How can Australia be perceived as PNG’s security guarantor when it doesn’t even help its neighbour secure its primary border, especially given the growing threat of jihadi infiltration? Why has the Australian Federal Police been given priority over the ADF in terms of security across Melanesia?

With no more engineering battalions or ADF advisers present, China has walked straight in.

From a Melanesian perspective, the two biggest security issues are climate change and Indonesia’s increasing political interference across the Melanesian archipelago. Despite the mantra from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that Australia remains the “strategic partner of choice” for Vanuatu and the region, the fact is that Canberra is not listening to Melanesia’s security concerns, but is telling them what they should be concerned about (China).

This is not going down well, and Melanesian nations are forging their own security arrangements with or without Australia, who they see as compromised when it comes to Indonesia and climate change.

In the past few months we have witnessed something of a pincer movement. In December, RAAF jets scrambled in Darwin after a number of nuclear-capable Russian Tupolev Tu 95 “Bear” bombers flew from Biak between Australia and Papua.

It’s the first time Russian bombers have operated like this in the South Pacific, and suggests Jakarta wanted to warn Australia and the US forces parked in Darwin that it too could bring some “muscle” into the neighbourhood. That message was likely aimed at China as much as Australia and the US.

Then, at the other end of Melanesia, we have revelations about a potential Chinese military base in Vanuatu. It’s highly unlikely China would have asked for a military base – Beijing is far too subtle to do that.

The more likely angle is something dressed up as a civilian project but with military applications, such as the “space station” speculated about in the South China Morning Post last week.

Already there is dual-use infrastructure in Vanuatu, such as the big Santo wharf. Step by step, like the “salami-slicing” strategy in the South China Sea, China will move in incrementally.

The consequences of this pincer only serve to demonstrate Australia’s diminishing standing in the region over decades, and the strategic consequences of turning a blind eye to Indonesia’s brutal hold over West Papua, the territory at the root of both Russian and Chinese moves in the region.

Australia must now find a strategic balance among its “frenemies” Indonesia and China. This must begin with deeper engagement of the islands, acknowledgement of climate change, and a robust defence of the Melanesian archipelago, from Timor to Fiji, if it expects to be Melanesia’s “security partner of choice”.

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April 17, 2018


TUESDAY, 17 APRIL, 2018 | 20:44 WIB
Freeport to Close Grasberg Mine Operation

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The management of PT Freeport Indonesia will close the operation of the open-pit gold mine in Grasberg, Mimika, Papua.

Executive Vice President of PT Freeport Indonesia for Sustainable Development Sony Prasetyo, said that Freeport’s production in 2019 will be reduced by 80,000 tons per day from the previous 200,000 tons per day.

"It is a technical condition, the open-pit mine in Grasberg is about to close, and by 2019 it is expected to stop, now it is already cannot be exploited, the only way we exploit it is from below or underground," Sony said in Timika on Monday, April 16, 2018.

Meanwhile, underground exploitation cannot be immediately carried out because there are still issues that must be solved, including the permits. However, if the government gives permission for underground mining exploitation, the result will not be optimal until around 2021 or 2023.

Sony said closing the open-pit mine will affect several things, including revenue. In addition, when he was asked about the possibility of having layoffs, Sony said it will be tough decision to make.

"I have not seen [the possibility for a lay off]. For this company, an employee is a valuable asset, so it will not be easy. It’s normal in business to think of efficiency, but as i have said, it will not be easy, moreover for a lay off. It’s a longshot," Sony said.



The Diplomat

What the US-China Struggle for Regional Dominance Means for Southeast Asia

How are Southeast Asian countries responding to growing tensions between the two powers?

By Mark J. Valencia April 17, 2018

This week China will undertake live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Straits. This provocative action comes on

the heels of simultaneous major U.S. and Chinese naval exercises in the South China Sea. While the situation is not as dire as it may seem, competition between the United States and China for dominance in the region is indeed intensifying. Faced with this burgeoning soft and thinly veiled hard power struggle for their political hearts and minds, Southeast Asian countries are doing what they can and must to maintain their relative independence and security in this roiling political cauldron. Indeed, neither China nor the United States should be under any illusions that any particular Southeast Asian country is supporting them in general or in a particular policy or action because it believes in their vision of the ideal world order.

Some are so far skillfully negotiating this political tight rope and benefiting from both sides’ largesse in the process. Indeed, most Southeast Asian countries are not blatantly choosing sides but are instead demonstrating that the matter of political choice between the two is not “either-or” but a continuum. According to Max Fisher and Audrey Carlsen, writing in the New York Times, there are three groups at various stages in this ever evolving continuum — “counteracting” China, “shifting toward” China, and “playing both sides”.

Let’s look at some individual countries’ situations and current positions regarding this U.S.-China struggle.

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U.S. “strategic partner” Singapore and U.S. ally the Philippines are thought by some (though not the NYT feature) to be in the U.S. camp of “counteracting” China. But this is misleading.

Singapore does seem more ideologically aligned with the United States and even provides temporary basing for U.S. Navy warships and aircraft collecting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance regarding China. But Singapore also seems to be hedging if not waffling. Perhaps Singapore’s current role as both ASEAN interlocutor with China and ASEAN chair has resulted in it taking a more neutral position between the two. For example, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong seemed cool when asked recently about the U.S. proposed Quad — a potential security arrangement between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States — saying, “We do not want to end up with rival blocs forming.”

The Philippines is an example of a country clearly “playing both sides” — and so far successfully so. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s abrupt pivot from staunch U.S. military ally to a more independent and neutral stance between the United States and China has startled those analysts and policy makers that assumed Manila was firmly in the U.S. camp. So far the Philippines has benefited from its better relationship with China while maintaining its military relationship — if a less robust one — with the United States.

Other Southeast Asian state — like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and perhaps nominal U.S. ally Thailand — appear to be moving toward China, preferring China’s economic incentives over the benefits of U.S. military “protection.”

Brunei may also be shifting its position. Although a claimant to part of the disputed area of the South China Sea, it has been relatively silent regarding both the disputes and the U.S.-China struggle for influence. Brunei and China apparently have overlapping claims in the South China Sea and Brunei may be using its claim as leverage to keep badly needed Chinese investment flowing. But this is a two-way street. Beijing may try to use its economic ties with Brunei to help prevent a consensus within ASEAN regarding decisions or statements on the South China Sea.

Indonesia has sharp differences with China regarding the area of the South China Sea north and east of the Indonesia-owned Natuna Islands, where their claims may overlap. The Trump administration is trying to take advantage of this to reinvigorate U.S.-Indonesia military relations. But nonaligned Indonesia and the United States have very different world perspectives. They differ sharply regarding U.S. policies and actions in the Middle East — especially the recent move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. While the United States sees ASEAN as a useful bulwark against China, Indonesia’s current interest in leading ASEAN and in regionalism itself seem to have faded in favor of domestic concerns. Foremost among these are development projects in which China’s investment and aid can be critical. Plus, U.S.-Indonesian military ties have a troubled past. In the late 1990s they were suspended due to alleged human rights abuses by the Indonesian military. More important, many Indonesians in high places remain suspicious of U.S. motives and worried about the potential regional destabilizing effect of the US-China competition. Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has suggested that “if regional countries can manage the South China Sea on their own, there is no need to involve others.”

Vietnam also has sharp differences with China regarding the South China Sea. Vietnam has a policy of “diversification and multilateralization “of relations with the major powers, and the United States has tried to take advantage of this as well as Vietnam’s concerns with China. But Vietnam is steadfastly nonaligned. Indeed, its long-standing policy is the “three nos” – no participation in military alliances, no foreign military bases on Vietnamese territory, and no reliance on one country to fight against another. Meanwhile it continues to have strong economic relations with China and seems to have reached an unsteady modus vivendi with China regarding the South China Sea disputes. While Vietnam’s position may seem to be anti-China, pro-U.S. , this should not be taken for granted.

One thing is fairly certain — China –U.S. balancing will become increasingly important and difficult for Southeast Asian countries. It will also undermine ASEAN unity and weaken its “centrality” and influence in security matters in the region — both collectively and for its individual members. ASEAN’s divisions on South China Sea issues currently advantage China.

This unfolding political drama could well turn out very badly for Southeast Asian nations that are unable or unwilling to successfully hedge and waffle. Indeed, there is a yawning chasm filled with adverse implications beneath this political tight rope if a country should lose its balance and fall to one side or the other. But for clever, self-confident, and bold leaders, this dilemma presents an opportunity that could prove a boon to those skillful enough to safely navigate these treacherous political waters.

Mark J. Valencia is Adjunct Senior Scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in Haikou, China

Civilian shot dead in front of church during military operations in Papua

April 7, 2018

Civilian shot dead in front of church during military operations in Papua

BBC Indonesia – April 5, 2018

Jerome Wirawan — The case of the alleged abduction of 1,300 people in Mimika, West Papua last year is apparently not over yet. This week, as many as three people were shot dead by the TNI (Indonesian military) in an incident that the TNI claims was a shootout with an armed group.

The problem is that one of those killed is believed to be a civilian.

Tembagapura district XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command (Kodam) Information Division Head Infantry Colonel Muhammad Aidi said that during armed contacts on Sunday April 1 and Monday April 2, two members of the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) were killed and scores of others wounded. The TNI refers to the OPM as an Armed Separatist Criminal Group (KKSB).

Meanwhile Private First-Class Vicky Rumpasium from the 751/Raider, Infantry Battalion was killed.

Another armed class took place at the Banti Village in Tembagapura district on Wednesday April 4, however unlike the earlier armed contacts, this time it is claimed that the TNI entered the grounds of the Sinai Opitawak Church and shot at congregation members gathered on the church grounds.

Speaking to BBC Indonesia, Pastor Deserius Adii said that congregation member Timotius Omabak was shot dead and three others wounded.

"The military entered the church grounds. At the time the late Timotius Omabak and several mama-mama [women traders] were sitting out front. They raised the red-and-white [Indonesian flag], a sign that they were not in the OPM. So they raised their hands. But the brutal soldiers entered the congregation grounds and immediately began firing", said Deserius.

Deserius explained that is no one in the congregation that is a member of an armed group. Moreover, according to Deserius, Timotius was a church staff member and worked as a civil servant in Tembagapura district.

"Before the TNI conducted the sweep of residential areas, we called on the OPM and the TNI/Polri not to sacrifice local people. Residents in the area are congregation members from three churches", continued Deserius.

Unable to confirm killing

Although Muhammad Aidi has confirmed the shooting he added that the TNI cannot confirm if the victim was actually a civilian or an OPM member.

"It is quite possible that the civilians were being used as [human] shields. What is clear is that at the time of the incident they were amongst a KKSB group", said Aidi. Aidi also confirmed that residents had raised the red-and-white flag.

"As soon as communities know that the TNI are coming they immediately raise the red-and-white flag. But it wasn’t in front of the church, but on high ground. You can believe their version, but there a witnesses, from the community", said Aidi.

Rules of engagement

The West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) — a group which supports Papua’s separation from Indonesia — has condemned the killing in Tembagapura. The incident, said KNPB general chairperson Victor Yeimo, is a reflection on how Indonesian security forces fail to understand the rules of engagement.

"Every time Indonesian security forces launch an operation, the result is civilian casualties. The Indonesian military severely lacks and understanding of the principles of war, where civilians cannot be targeted. Doesn’t the Indonesian military have eyes to see that they were civilians?", said Victor.

Responding to the counter accusations between government forces and pro-independence groups, Manokwari Legal Aid Assessment, Research and Development Institute (LP3BH) Director Yan Christian Warinussy insisted that an independent investigation is needed.

"I think we must give access to humanitarian workers, human rights defenders who are with human rights institutions including Komnas HAM [National Human Rights Commission], in order to conduct an investigation", said Yan.

He highlighted the fact that the dissemination of information on West Papua is dominated by senior military and police officers, including allegations that civilians are falling victim because pro-independence groups are using people as human shields.

"I just don’t see that our sisters and brothers who are categorised by the government as armed civilian groups use [people as] shields. Because none of the physical evidence is obtained in a balanced manner", said Yan.

"We hear a lot of talk from senior military and police officers. But we never get information from journalists who interview groups who oppose the state so we can’t get information that is balanced", he added.

Mimika hostage taking

The first case of hostage taking came to light in October and November 2017. At the time, the TNI and police said that an armed group was holding 1,300 local residents and had cut of road access to the Banti and Kimbely villages in Timika.

It was difficult for journalists to verify what actually happened there because access to the area was closed, as conveyed by Viktor Mambor from the Papuan Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).

"It’s difficult now. Before, prior to the incident, journalists were able to go up to Kimbely several times", said Viktor.

"But every time there is an incident like this it becomes difficult. We can actually go their secretly, but in a situation like this we could get shot, right", he said.

As of Thursday the TNI is still declaring an alert in Tembagapura district. Muhammad Aidi said that with the exception of Arwanop village near Opitawak, troops had succeeded in taking control of six villages in the district including Longsoran, Kimbeli, Banti 1, Banti 2, Utikini and Opitawak.

Through BBC Indonesia, the TNI has "invited", senior OPM official Hendrikus Uwamang to conduct an investigation into a village that was allegedly torched by the TNI.

"Let us go together to the TKP [crime scene] to investigate so that we don’t accuse each other. We can guarantee their safety. We’ll bring media colleagues to jointly investigate", said Aidi.

Aidi added that the TNI and police will guarantee the safety OPM members who voluntarily surrender and declare their loyalty to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. "They will also be guaranteed amnesty from any kind of legal proceedings", he asserted.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Konflik Papua: TNI disebut tembak warga yang kibarkan bendera merah putih".]


Over 1,000 civilian lives at risk: Papua Liberation Army

April 4, 2018

Over 1,000 civilian lives at risk: Papua Liberation Army
Evi Mariani, Sita Dewi and Nethy Dharma Somba
Jakarta/Jayapura | Wed, April 4, 2018 | 10:23 am

Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers hold the coffin of their friend, Private First Class Vicky Irad Uba Rumpaidus, in Sorong, West Papua province, on Wednesday, April 4. Vicky was killed when shots were exchanged between the military and the Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM) in Utikini village in Mimika regency, Papua province, on April 1. He died after being shot in his right temple. (Antara/Olha Mulalinda)

The Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM), which is linked to the Free Papua independence movement, said on Wednesday morning over 1,000 civilian lives were at risk amid Indonesian Military (TNI) and liberation group armed conflicts in Tembagapura district, Mimika regency, Papua, near copper mine Freeport.

TPN spokesperson Hendrik Wanmang said they had gathered civilians in Kampung Opitawak and TPN fighters had retreated and left the kampung to avoid civilians being mistaken for armed fighters.

“There are women and children among the 1,000. We have told them if the Indonesian Military comes, don’t run; show yourselves with your hands up,” Wanmang told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta via phone.

Read also: TNI on hunt for armed assailants after exchange of fire in Tembagapura

Previously, the TNI said the armed assailants had taken control of several villages in Tembagapura district, namely Utikini, Longsoran, Kimbeli, Banti 1, Banti 2 and Opitawak. The authorities feared that it was part of the group’s warning to the TNI and the police that it wanted an open fight, the TNI said.

On Tuesday, Cendrawasih Military Command spokesman Col. M. Aidi said the assailants had set locals’ houses, a hospital and a school building on fire. The attack set the TNI to move and hunt down the armed assailants. The TNI said the military had kept the civilians safe.

One TNI soldier, Private First Class Vicky Irad Uba Rumpaidus, was killed when shots were exchanged between the military and the group in Utikini village on Sunday. He died after being shot in his right temple.

The TPN has a different account. Wanmang said on Sunday the shootout happened after the TNI passed a line set by the TPN as the border of the war zone.

On Wednesday, 270 personnel members from the TNI and the National Police entered Banti 2, and 31 personnel members from the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) entered Banti 1, the place where a shootout had happened earlier, the TPN claimed. “People are in danger,” Wanmang said.

Wanmang also accused the TNI of having fired mortars at people’s houses. “I saw one had cracked a window and the mortar set fire to the house,” Wanmang claimed on Wednesday.

The TNI said the TPN took the civilians hostage, but the TPN said the villagers were with them. “The villagers were all natives and they were with us throughout this fight against the TNI and the police. The TPN belongs to this society.

“Villagers can’t take up arms, so we fight [on behalf of the villagers] with their support,” he said on Tuesday evening.

“We, the TPN and the villagers, will continue to fight against injustice. We want Freeport to be shut down. [Freeport] is the root of the problems [here]. We are natives; we own the land, the mountain and the gold. We demand what belongs to us,” he said, referring to United States-based mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia, which has been operating in Papua since 1970.

The incident marks a long-standing armed conflict between Indonesia’s security personnel and Papuan self-determination groups.

Last year, a member of the National Police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) stationed in Timika, Papua, was killed in a shootout between security personnel and unidentified gunmen on Utikini bridge, Tembagapura, Mimika regency.

Papua’s “problematic” integration into Indonesia in 1962 and the exploitation of Papua’s natural resources by private companies have often been touted as the main sources of native Papuans’ grievances.

2) Papuan political prisoner freed
9:44 am today
A member of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee has been freed from prison having completed his jail term.

Yanto Awerkion was given a ten-month sentence for treason by an Indonesian court.
Mr Awerkion was arrested in May 2017 in Timika because of his involvement with a petition calling for West Papuan independence from Indonesia.
After 17 court appearances, trial delays and over nine months in jail, the political prisoner was sentenced mid last month.
With time already served, Mr Awerkion was due to be released by the end of the month.
Mr Awerkion had been facing a potential 15-year sentence, the maximum in Indonesia for treason.

New paper highlights stories of pain, humiliation, fear of West Papuans

April 3, 2018
New paper highlights stories of pain, humiliation, fear of West Papuans
March 31, 2018 By Mark Bowling

Plea for help: Catholic social justice advocate Peter Arndt has delved into stories of pain, humiliation and fear that have indelibly marked generations of indigenous West Papuans and hardened their resolve for freedom and independence. Photo: Mark Bowling
THREE years ago, Catholic social justice advocate Peter Arndt joined an international Christian pilgrimage to West Papua and heard an impassioned plea from the survivor of an alleged Indonesian military massacre.

“I now realise that it was the moment when I began to enter into a deep solidarity with the people of West Papua and to understand the radical implications of Christian solidarity,” Mr Arndt, the executive director of Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, said.
A young Papuan named Laurens told his story to Mr Arndt, quietly recounting horrific events he witnessed on the island of Biak on July 6, 1998.
According to Laurens, scores of Papuans were rounded up, forced onto navy boats, raped, mutilated, killed and dumped into the sea.
In the following weeks, more than 30 decomposed bodies were fished out of the sea or washed ashore.

Indonesian authorities claimed the bodies were those of victims of a recent tsunami that struck Papua New Guinea, but the corpses were dressed in clothes that clearly identified them as people from Biak island. Laurens reached out to Mr Arndt with a simple plea: “Can you please help us to get our freedom?” Mr Arndt has made several visits to West Papua, including a 2016 fact-finding mission after which he reported “there is clear evidence of ongoing violence, intimidation and harassment by the Indonesian security forces”.

However, in a new paper in the Catholic Social Justice series entitled Into the Deep, Mr Arndt delves into stories of pain, humiliation and fear that have indelibly marked generations of indigenous West Papuans and hardened their resolve for freedom and independence.
He searches to place events in the context of the message of the Gospel and Catholic social teaching. To this day, no Indonesian soldier or police officer has been held accountable for the dreadful deeds committed on Biak, Mr Arndt wrote. He said those who continued to speak out, like Laurens, were deprived of employment opportunities and pensions, and subject to harassment and intimidation by Indonesian security officers.
“While we were listening to their stories, our meeting was raided by a contingent of police, intelligence officers and immigration officials,” Mr Arndt wrote.

“It was as if our local hosts had prepared an experience of what they face routinely at the hands of Indonesian authorities.
“It appears that one of our drivers had tipped the officials off to our presence on Biak and they had come to arrest us and question us about the purpose of our visit.” Into the Deep also recounts Mr Arndt’s 2015 visit to the West Papuan highlands, to a village, which had witnessed military shootings just two months earlier. Trouble started when soldiers caught a 12-year-old girl and beat her with their riffle butts. After hundreds of people gathered near a police station to express their anger, shots were fired from a nearby airfield tower and four youths were killed.
“Both in the village and in church gatherings we attended during our four-day stay, it was apparent that the local community was still gripped by a mixture of shock and fear,” Mr Arndt wrote.

“Our presence as foreigners was, more than once, a cause of tension – some openly criticised those who welcomed us because they feared it would bring the authorities into the village or to the meetings we attended. “Indeed, on our last full day in the village, word had spread to the village that the police were on their way to find out what we foreigners were doing.” When Mr Arndt returned to the highlands a year later, the case was still being investigated by Indonesia’s national human rights commission, Komnas Ham, and no one had been held accountable for the fatal shooting of the four youths. “That remains the case to this day, despite repeated assurances by the Indonesian Government that resolving the case is a high priority,” Mr Arndt wrote.

“The families have steadfastly refused to take blood money for the death of their boys. “When I asked them what they want if there is to be justice for their boys, one of the fathers spoke for them all in a clear and solemn voice: ‘The only justice we want is freedom’. “It was as if Laurens was speaking again, this time in the highlands, but to me it was also the voice of the crucified Christ.” Mr Arndt said many Australians were seeking to support the people of West Papua, but baulked at any form of support for a political objective. “They hesitate when it comes to dedicating energy and resources to ending the Indonesian occupation and achieving political independence for West Papua,” he wrote. “I have heard people of good will who say that they cannot be involved in political action and so restrict themselves to human rights advocacy.

“Some advise Papuans that self-determination is an impossible dream and that lesser goals should be sought.” Into the Deep offers a detailed history of West Papua from colonial Dutch rule to Indonesian takeover. It is almost five decades since a rigged United Nations referendum, which legitimised Indonesia’s tenuous claim on West Papua. Since then the history of political struggle against a brutal Indonesian rule has occasionally penetrated mainstream media reporting, but has seldom caused a ripple in Canberra. Parramatta bishop and chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council Bishop Vincent Long has offered a glowing endorsement of Mr Arndt’s Into the Deep.

“That deep reflection on Gospel values and Church teaching is what makes this publication so inspiring,” Bishop Long said. “Peter places his friends’ experience in the context of the Scriptures and looks deeply into the Church’s teachings on justice and asks what he must do. “He discerns the answer with clarity and courage.” Into the Deep – seeking justice for the people of West Papua is available by online download from

Demo at Freeport office in Jakarta calls for self-determination for West Papua

April 3, 2018

Demo at Freeport office in Jakarta calls for self-determination for West Papua
April 2018

Calls for West Papuan self-determination were prominent during a demonstration in front of the offices of PT Freeport Indonesia in the Kuningan area of South Jakarta on Thursday March 29 – Gromico.

Jayapura, Jubi – Calls for West Papuan self-determination were prominent during a demonstration in front of the offices of PT Freeport Indonesia in the Kuningan area of South Jakarta on Thursday March 29.

The action was held by around 70 or so protesters from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) who held the demonstration to demand the closure of the Freeport copper and gold mine in Papua.

FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta said that the international community must take a position on the forced incorporation of West Papua into the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

“Since May 1, 1963 until now, West Papua’s was removed from Holland’s decolonisation list without the West Papuan people knowledge”, said Surya.

Surya also accused Freeport of being an entry point for the colonisation of West Papua on the grounds that the first work contract between Freeport and Indonesia was signed in 1967.

Meanwhile the Act of Free Choice (Pepera) which resulted in the incorporation of West Papua into the NKRI was held in 1969. Surya said that the Pepera was manipulated and undemocratic.

Dorlince Iyowau, a resident of Timika who took part in the action, added that Freeport’s presence in Papua has not brought prosperity or peace to the West Papuan people.

“Violence against the people and damage to the environment by waste tailings discarded into the Ajkwa River is a concrete form of Freeport’s colonial presence”, said Dorlince.

In a press release received by Tirto, the FRI-WP and the AMP made nine demands, three of which were the closure of PT Freeport, the withdrawal of the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (National Police) from Papua and self-determination for the people of Papua.

The release also stated that based on a report by the Papuan Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsham) in 2002, numerous cases of violence have been committed by security forces in Papua.

The report notes that thousands of people have died, scores have disappeared and hundreds more have been arrested and tortured. In addition to this, it also notes places of worship that have been burnt down, villages and other locations that have been destroyed, many of which have yet to be properly documented.

The demonstrators began leaving the Freeport offices at around 3.15 pm. Similar actions are planned to take place simultaneously on April 7 in several different cities including Yogyakarta and Semarang (Central Java), Bandung (West Java), Surabaya and Malang (East Java), Makassar (South Sulawesi), Palu (Central Sulawesi), Ternate (North Maluku) and Papua itself. (*)

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.


Editor: Victor Mambor


The Other Country Crucial to Global Climate Goals: Indonesia
If things don’t change, the world’s most ignored big emitter could be the one that dooms the global climate.

By Nithin Coca March 28, 2018

When it comes to global climate issues, attention this past year has focused on the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, or China and India’s rapid shifts to clean energy. Meanwhile, the world’s other major greenhouse gas emitter is being ignored. Indonesia, a country that, depending on the scale of its now-seasonal fires, can be the world’s third to sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has done little to implement policies that would enable it to meet its already weak Paris agreement goals.

In fact, many of its actions are pushing the country in the opposite direction, toward greater emissions. This includes government plans to build over 100 coal-fired power plants alongside the push to expand palm oil production and increase local biofuel consumption. Factor in the massive expansion of a car-centric transportation infrastructure, including new highways across the archipelago, booming air travel, a growing middle class, and, unlike many of its Asian neighbors, very little investment in renewables, and you have the recipe for a climate disaster. It’s not just Indonesia’s fault – the failure to scale up climate finance has meant that programs meant to stem deforestation have yet to bear fruit. Indonesia’s failure, since Paris, to address its emissions, could have global ramifications and if things continue on the business-as-usual path, critically damage global climate goals.

“Indonesia is too big to fail when it comes to climate because it is such a big emitter… because of deforestation and peat burning,” said Jonah Busch with the Center for Global Development. “It certainly makes it a lot harder to meet international climate goals if you have such a big emitter that [has] continued its big emissions.”

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Indonesia’s Global Importance

Indonesia is a country that, despite its size and regional importance, regularly is forgotten or ignored on the global stage. This applies to climate issues as well. Despite its important role in the global fight against climate change, it gets little attention compared to other major emitters. Part of the reason is due to the uniqueness of its emissions. The other countries mentioned above are major emitters due to energy use, transportation, or air travel, the key focus of most international climate attention thus far.

“In climate in general, forests are underappreciated, not given enough attention, and marginalized in policy,” said Busch. “When a lot of people think about climate and greenhouse gas emissions, they only think about emissions from fossil fuels.”

On the global scale, forests matter, and land use is responsible for about a quarter of global emissions, with Indonesia the undisputed leader in this category. Yet, while the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement last year made headlines, as do India and China’s commitments and actions, Indonesia has drawn little attention, and that’s a problem. Jakarta arguably matters more. The U.S. withdrawal from Paris was a blow, but state and regional-level action likely means the country will still achieve its climate goals, and both India and China are actually on pace to blow past their commitments. Indonesia, however, has made little progress, with emissions still growing.

According to an analysis from the World Resources Institute, the country must made major changes if it is to have any hope of meetings its climate goals: an unconditional 26 percent reduction in emissions as compared to business-as-usual by 2030, which rises to 41 percent with international support. Indonesia needs to cut land-based emissions by about 80 percent to have any chance to achieve that goal.

“World leaders recognized the crucial role of forests in climate change mitigation in the Paris climate agreement and pledged to halt deforestation by 2020,” said Ratri Kusumohartono, forest campaigner with Greenpeace Indonesia. “However, in spite of these commitments, the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests…shows no sign of slowing down.”

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is partly to blame. His administration has not taken forest protection seriously enough, focusing instead on economic development. This leads to some worrisome discrepancies. After the 2015 fires, Jokowi made some positive moves, such as creating a Peatland Restoration Agency, and, last year, extending the 2011 Deforestation Moratorium put in place by his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. At the same time, he is pushing forward with plans to build over one million hectares of palm oil and sugar plantations in Papua. His government has also been fighting against the European Union’s proposal to limit palm oil biofuel imports because evidence shows they do little to combat climate change due to – yes – deforestation and fires. His positive moves are more than negated by these steps, along with the evidence that deforestation is continuing mostly unabated.

Untapped Potential

The lack of action means that Indonesia has also fallen behind several developing nations in tackling climate change. This includes Brazil, which was, until 2014, the leading emitter of land-based emissions in the world, due to the rampant deforestation of the Amazon. But since the turn of the millennium, the country has made remarkable progress, mostly due to actions taken under then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. There is much that Indonesia could learn from what took place in its similarly tropical, energy-hungry South American counterpart.

“You can’t say it’s impossible to reduce deforestation; you have this example of another country that has done it. If one country can do it, [Indonesia] can do it,” said Busch.

It’s not just India and Brazil that are leading the way. As mentioned above, China is dramatically cutting back on coal consumption; India is leading on solar. Even smaller neighbors are steaming ahead. Thailand’s solar industry is booming, and even Bangladesh has installed rooftop solar systems on over 3.5 million homes. There is no reason that Indonesia, with its large, growing economy cannot be replicating these models to reduce emissions and build up its clean energy portfolio.

If things continue as planned, Indonesia’s emissions could be much, much worse, with potentially disastrous consequences for the global environment. As an emerging economy, Indonesia has rapidly growing energy demands, but currently, it plans to meet future demand through the building of dozens of coal-fired power plants. Furthermore, its fast growing transportation sector is necessitating imports of more oil and natural gas. As the United States grows its domestic oil industry and China reduces is dependency on imports, Indonesia could become the world’s largest oil importer as soon as 2019. It is also projected to become a net importer of natural gas by 2020. If Indonesia fails to stem deforestation and continues with a coal, gas, and oil dependent energy infrastructure, its emissions could skyrocket.

Indonesia’s size makes it crucial to the global climate. Quite simply, there is no hope without action in the archipelago. Right now the focus is on forests, but in the future, its energy usage could be just as important. The other risk is, of course, to Indonesia’s economy. If its neighbors move toward clean energy and Jakarta sticks to coal, gas, and oil, the costs to public health and the environment could be huge. A study from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) echoed that fear. The irony would be that Jokowi’s economic development plans could actually fail if they don’t consider the costs of sticking to dirty energy.

“Renewable energy is already cheaper than coal in many markets around the world, and Indonesia can benefit hugely from this trend,” said Yulanda Chung with IEEFA in a press statement. “We think Indonesian planners are far less ambitious than they could be in development of solar, especially, and that a more progressive and modern approach would be in the best economic interest of the country.”

In fact, Indonesia is well endowed and could make a shift. It has ample sun, wind, wave, and geothermal energy potential, and there are some small, nascent signs of hope. Some lawmakers are pushing for better legislation to promote renewable energy. There is even a Green Economy Caucus in Parliament that wants to promote sustainable development. But they are far too small, and lacking in ambition.

Meanwhile, international support to protect forests might finally be coming, as the Green Climate Fund is preparing to begin financing projects, and Indonesia could be – at long last – ready to tap into $800 billion dollars in emissions reductions payments from Norway, which was pledged in 2010.

For now, though, Indonesia’s forests are still being cut down, and it is lagging behind nearly all of its neighbors in adopting clean energy. If things don’t change, the world’s most ignored big emitter could be the one that dooms the global climate.

Nithin Coca is a freelance writer and journalist who focuses on cultural, economic, and environmental issues in developing countries. Follow him on Twitter @excinit.

3) What will Jokowi’s legacy be in climate change?

Jakarta | Mon, March 26, 2018 | 05:05 pm
Indonesia will have its next presidential election in April next year, which will also mark the end of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s first term.
While there’s still one year left before the next election, political debates have dominated talks in the nation.
Climate talks, however, remain tragically absent as policymakers are busy trying to hold on to their powers through political maneuvers, despite the fact that Indonesia is one of the largest greenhouse gas-producing countries in the world, largely due to deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires.
What politicians, including Jokowi, forget is that the fate of the people they’re supposed to be serving depends on whether we manage to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Indonesia is among the countries with the highest risk of being affected by climate change as many of its islands could disappear from rising sea levels.
A government official last year said Indonesia had already lost 29,000 hectares of land due to rising sea levels in the northern part of Java Island and other regions, about the size of Hawaii’s Honolulu.
And if the government doesn’t act fast, we could also lose Jakarta, the capital city from where it rules the country.
Jakarta is sinking so fast that it could end up underwater due to rising sea levels and more extreme weather brought by climate change. At the same time, locals illegally drain groundwater because they are facing a shortage of water supply, further sinking the capital. As a result, about 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level.
Jakarta is also on the brink of water crisis, akin to what’s happening in South Africa’s Cape Town, which is in the grip of a drought that could bring it to become the first city in the world to run out of water.
Prolonged drought caused by climate change might escalate the risk of a water crisis in Jakarta.
All this begs the question, why does the government treat climate change like an afterthought?
In order to successfully mitigate the impact of climate change, one needs to have robust and strong climate policies.
Yet, Indonesia’s existing climate policies have been criticized for not being strong enough, especially compared to other top emitters like India, which is set to take a global leadership position in the transportation sector following its government announcement to ban the sales of diesel and petrol-powered vehicles by 2030, thus allowing only electric cars to operate in the country.
As a top carbon emitter, Indonesia has pledged to reduce its emissions growth by at least 29 percent over business-as-usual levels by 2030. That means it can emit no more than 2 gigatons of carbon dioxide that year.
But an analysis by Washington-based think tank World Resources Institute (WRI) shows that barring no drastic measures, Indonesia will miss its emissions reduction target.
According to the analysis, even if Indonesia fully implements its existing policies in the land-use and energy sectors, the country will only slash its carbon emissions by 19 percent, a far cry from the country’s target of 29 percent emissions reduction.
Indonesia’s target has also been criticized for not being stringent enough. Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis tracking climate action, gives Indonesia’s commitment an “insufficient” rating as it’s not consistent with holding warming to below 2 degrees, let alone limiting it to 1.5 degrees.
Indonesia’s efforts to achieve its climate target are also deemed to be weak. In the latest Climate Change Performance Index, an instrument which evaluates and compares the climate protection performance, Indonesia ranked 37th out of 56 countries and the European Union, falling under the classification of “low-performing country” because of its high deforestation rate and lack of bold action to phase out fossil fuels.
Indonesia’s energy policy is filled with contradictions. On one hand, the government wants to promote renewable energy. But at the same time, it also wants to continue to rely on coal as its main energy source.
While Indonesia aims to boost the use of renewable energy in power generation by 2025, increasing its portion in the energy mix from 12 percent in 2017 to 23 percent in 2025, coal will remain the primary source for energy in the country with 54.4 percent in 2025.
Worse yet, the government plans to shift its focus to using coal again after 2025, increasing the portion of coal in the energy mix to 58.5 percent by 2027, according to a recent report by The Jakarta Post.
Indonesia’s coal policy is at odds with the rest of the world. Globally, a coal phase-out campaign is gaining momentum, supported by commitments from 34 countries and subnational entities.
As a result, only seven countries initiated new coal power construction at more than one location in 2017.
And yes, Indonesia is one of them.
Indonesia’s continued reliance on coal will lock the country in a high-carbon economy and threaten to derail its climate policies and actions.
As Jokowi approaches the end of his first term, he has the power to make a decision that might serve as a turning point of his leadership.
Does he want to end his leadership with weak climate policies that left his people at the mercy of extreme weather and rising sea levels brought by climate change? Or does he want to make climate change his top priority to protect the lives of the hundreds of millions of people he has sworn to lead and to protect? Does he want to be a climate leader not only for Indonesia, but also for other countries threatened by climate change?
It’s not too late for Jokowi to put stronger climate policies in place by curbing the deforestation rate, phasing out dirty fossil fuels and ushering a new era of low-carbon development, among other things.
Indonesia has many untapped opportunities, especially in renewable energy, that it can harness.
With its large amounts of hydropower, Indonesia has the potential to generate 788,000 megawatts of electricity through new and renewable energy.
A 2017 report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) also shows that Indonesia can afford to cancel at least nine coal projects as the country’s future electricity demand growth has been greatly overestimated. Failure to do so will force Indonesia to pay for energy it’s not using for decades.
And Indonesia could also do more to curb deforestation rate and plant trees, which soak up carbon dioxide as they grow, so much so that it is considered to have the single largest potential for storing carbon of any land-based natural climate solution.
According to data from the government, there are 24.3 million ha of degraded land out of 190 million ha of forest areas in Indonesia.
The government aims to rehabilitate 12 million ha of degraded land by 2030, or 800,000 ha per year. Yet, our state budget only allocates enough money to reforest 200,000 to 300,000 ha of degraded lands per year. And there hasn’t been any information on how much progress has been made in the reforestation program.
But since limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100 would involve removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reforestation is an essential component of climate change mitigation that the government can’t ignore.
Lastly, the government could strengthen its forest moratorium to further curb the deforestation rate. Currently, the moratorium only applies to new licenses on “primary” forests and peat swamps.
Critics of the moratorium say it is poorly enforced and that it should also cover all forests, not just primary forests. A primary forest is an ancient forest, as opposed to a “secondary” regenerating one.
By improving enforcement and renewing the moratorium through 2030, we can reduce emissions by 188 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to the WRI. Expanding the moratorium to include both secondary forest and forested areas already licensed out to developers could further reduce emissions by 427 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2030.
But time is ticking fast.
Some experts believe we only have two years left to take drastic actions on climate change before the goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement become almost unattainable. And while progress in renewable energy has been made, new data released by the International Energy Agency revealed that carbon emissions from the use of energy rose again by 1.4 percent in 2017, after three flat years.
The rise in carbon emissions was spurred by an increase in fossil fuel demand last year, including the global coal demand which rose by 1 percent after a two-year decline. Therefore, Indonesia should act immediately and aim for 1.5 degrees if it wants a chance to survive.
Currently, Jokowi is focusing on developing the country’s economy and building infrastructure all over the archipelago to help develop underserved and remote regions. But all of Jokowi’s efforts to bolster Indonesia’s economy and people’s welfare will be for naught if he ignores climate change, as there will be no jobs on a dead planet. (kes)
Born in Indonesia, Hans Nicholas Jong is a Jakarta-based environmental journalist. Before joining in 2017, Hans worked for The Jakarta Post for five years. Having covered a wide range of issues from the elections to the economy, Hans found his passion in the environment. Being surrounded by people who dedicated their lives to protecting the environment fueled Hans’ interests and desire to write about the complexities of environmental issues in Indonesia and other countries.

Open Letter on West Papua: Request for Help

March 31, 2018

Dear supporter of the International Academics for West Papua,

As someone who has signed our open letter to the Government of Indonesia and its international allies, we want to ask for your help in spreading the letter through your academic networks. We want to get around 120 academic signatories worldwide before taking it to the Guardian or similar international news networks for publication.

With continued human rights abuses throughout West Papua and a major uptick in the internal and external West Papuan self-determination movement, now is a vital time for academics to show solidarity. Please send the open letter to your colleagues, share on social media, put it on email lists, etc.

In other news, the International Academics for West Papua (IAWP) has now launched in the Australia-Pacific region, and in the European region. You can watch a video of the Australia-Pacific launch here. We’ll be in touch again later in the year with more plans. Otherwise, if you have any ideas for the network or just want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to respond to this email.

All the best and thanks for your help.

IAWP Secretariat

Photo from the launch of the IAWP-European Region, Houses of Parliament, November 15, 2017.