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West Papua Report March 2014: U.S. State Dept. human rights report, trafficking children, election boycott, palm oil, political fragmentation

March 6, 2014

West Papua Report
March 2014

This is the 119th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at edmcw<a href="mailto:edmcw. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan. Link to this issue: .

The Report leads with "Perspective," an analysis piece; followed by "Update," a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then "Chronicle" which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a "Perspective" or responding to one should write toedmcw<a href="mailto:edmcw. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author's and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN.For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

CONTENTS

This edition’s PERSPECTIVE is that of the U.S. Department of State regarding the state of human rights observance in West Papua. The assessment is drawn from the U.S. Department of State’s annual human rights report regarding Indonesia. WPAT has extracted those elements in the report which focus on West Papua. and added commentary on the accuracy of the State Department’s analysis. UPDATE notes a new report on the trafficking of Papuan children for forced conversion to Islam. Also of note is a call for Papuans to boycott this year’s Indonesia parliamentary and presidential elections; ecological destruction and human rights abuse at a Papuan palm oil plantations and a seminar discussion of demographic change and political fragmentation in West Papua. In CHRONICLE: a report on Special Autonomy and public health in West Papua; a consideration of demographic trends in West Papua and the latest from Papuans Behind Bars.

PERSPECTIVE

U.S. Department of State Reports on Endemic Racism and Discrimination in West Papua

This month we present the perspective of the U.S. Department of State with regard to the state of human rights in West Papua. To be sure, the West Papua Report did not solicit the following analysis. Rather, we have extracted the references to the plight of West Papuans in the State Department’s annual review of human rights in Indonesia which was released February 27.

WPAT Note: We include comments on the State Department Report (SDR) throughout to point out where the SDR’s presentation of the situation is in our view incorrect or misleading. In April’s West Papua Report, we will identify omissions in the SDR account. Throughout the report the State Department makes reference to the "two provinces of "Papua" and "West Papua." We regard the creation of the province of "Papua" as an illegal act and continue to identify the region as "West Papua."

The State Department Report (SDR) includes references to human rights problems in West Papua in its "Executive Summary," among its introduction to human rights more generally in Indonesia.

WPAT Note: In some previous years, the State Department would often seek to obscure rights problems to which the host government was particularly sensitive by only acknowledging those problems deep in the text of the lengthy report and not identifying them in the summary.

The "Executive Summary" notes: "The Government applied treason and blasphemy laws to limit freedom of expression by peaceful independence advocates in the provinces of Papua and West Papua and by religious minority groups." The Summary also contends that "separatist guerrillas in Papua killed members of the security forces and injured others in several attacks." Later writing: "Violence continued to affect the provinces of Papua, much of it linked to the Papuan separatist movement." The SDR notes that on February 21-22 separatists "killed eight soldiers and several civilians in two separate attacks."

WPAT Note: Elsewhere in the report the State Department refers to endemic racism and discrimination as constituting the "drivers of violence and economic inequality in the region." The SDR errs in echoing here the Indonesian government’s false contention linking violence in West Papua to activity of pro-independence Papuans.

The SDR also reports on an incident April 30 in which "alleged members of a pro-independence group in Sorong" were attacked by security authorities who killed two and wounded three. The security forces also arrested seven for "their roles" in planning a demonstration on May 1. The SDR also notes the May 13 arrest of Victor Yiemo, a prominent Papuan who was arrested for planning an "unauthorized demonstration" calling for an investigation of the April 30 incident.

The SDR identifies a lack of transparency in investigations, citing the 2012 killings of Papuans Mako Tabuni and Tejoli Weya, and the 2011 killing of three civilians in the course of the "forced dissolution of the Third Papuan Peoples Congress."

Regarding trial procedures, the SDR notes "there were reports from Papuans that defendants did not have access to attorneys of their choosing and that authorities denied them adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense."

The SDR cites "international NGOs" estimates of more than 70 political prisoners for all of Indonesia including from West Papua and the Malukus. (WPAT Note: A "Papuans Behind Bars" report cited belownotes that the number of Papuan political prisoners is at least 74. The group listed 70 political prisoners held by Indonesia at the end of 2013.)

The SDR report adds that "A number of independence activists from the Papua and Maluku regions, including Johan Teterissa, were in detention or prison for peacefully expressing their political views. As in years past, the government arrested and prosecuted citizens in Papua and West Papua provinces for raising a banned separatist flag."

Later the State Dept. reports that "The Government used laws against advocacy of separatism to restrict the ability of individuals to criticize the government publicly and peacefully and advocate for independence." In this context the SDR reports that on May 1, in Sorong and Timika, 21 Papuans were arrested for flying the morning star flag. In another section, the SDR writes that "authorities arrested more than 40 people for flag-related offenses." The report points out that the Papuan Special Autonomy Law (2001) permits a flying of a flag symbolizing Papua’s cultural identity, but that a government regulation specifically forbids the flying of the morning star flag.

The SDR describes other constraints on the exercise of freedom of expression in West Papua and acknowledges that "there were a number of large demonstrations throughout Papua; most were conducted in accordance with the law and remained peaceful. On May 1, however, during protests commemorating the transfer of Papua and West Papua from the Netherlands to Indonesia, police arrested 21 demonstrators who attempted to raise a banned separatist flag in Sorong and Timika." It also notes that "police in Papua routinely refused to issue receipts" for the required written notification of planned demonstrations, effectively denying the protests a permit. The SDR writes that the police’s rationalize this effective ban on demonstrations "on the grounds that the demonstrations would likely involve calls for independence, an act that is prohibited under the same law."

The SDR cites the widely condemned Indonesian practice of restricting access to West Papua. "The Government continues to restrict foreign media from travelling to the Provinces of Papua and West Papua by requiring them to request travel permission from the Foreign Ministry or an Indonesian embassy. The Government approves some requests and denies others ostensibly for reasons regarding the safety of foreign visitors. Advocates for press freedom alleged that an inter-ministerial group reviewed requests by foreign journalists and that the TNI (Indonesian military) and intelligence services prevented international journalists visits to the region." The SDR also notes that "UN officials were not able to travel to Papua and West Papua."

WPAT Note: In this passage as in others, the SDR voices criticism of the Government of Indonesia by citing the critique of others, in this case that of "advocates for press freedom." The State Department knows of the existence of an inter-ministerial group that reviews travel requests by foreign journalists and should state this as fact.

The SDR discusses at length the plight of "indigenous" persons, after noting that the government has long rejected use of the term, claiming all people living in the Indonesian archipelago are "indigenous." It adds "Indigenous persons, most notably in Papua remain subject to widespread discrimination and there was little improvement in respect for their traditional land rights. Mining and logging activities, many of them illegal, posed social, economic and logistical problems to indigenous communities. The government failed to prevent companies, often in collusion with local military and police, from encroaching on indigenous peoples’ land. In Papua and West Papua tensions continued between indigenous Papuans and migrants. Melanesians in Papua cited endemic racism and discrimination as drivers of violence and economic inequality in the region."

WPAT Comment: This important element of the SDR could have been stronger had it for example identified the U.S. based Freeport McMoRan copper and gold mining company as a principle historic culprit acting in collusion with security forces to encroach on traditional land rights and to violate the human rights of the Papuan people.

see also ETAN and WPAT: Comments on the U.S. Department of State’s Annual Country Report on Human Rights for 2012 Concerning Indonesia/West Papua

UPDATE

Trafficking of Papuan Children

Last year, Michael Bachelard authored a groundbreaking report on the abduction of Papuan children: " They’re Taking Our Children," in the Sidney Morning Herald." In a follow up, " Papuan Children Taken to Jakarta to Be Converted to Islam," he reports on the abduction of two brothers, one through subterfuge in which the boy’s family was mislead about the purpose of their son’s travel to Jakarta and the second through simple abduction. Both of these Christian children were placed in Islamic schools.

Bachelard writes that "the religious conversion of any young child is illegal in Indonesia, and the United Nations deems any transfer of a minor, even for education, as trafficking."

Both boys attended an Islamic boarding schools run by Tutty Alawiyah, "a former women’s minister in the Suharto government and now a prominent preacher" and educator. "Ibu Tutty" as she is known is well connected in Jakarta, including to Indonesia’s Economic Affairs Minister Hatta Rajasa and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan "confirmed he had at one point fostered one of the boys at his Jakarta mansion."

Bachelard reports that there are a number of pesantren, Islamic boarding schools, in the Jakarta area and in Bogor that have hosted Papuan children. The boys told Bachelard of being beaten and sometimes burned for infractions. One boy was told that he would eventually return to West Papua where he would be expected to convert his fellow Papuans to Islam. Bachelard wrote that outside money (possibly Saudi) might be backing the schools that receive the trafficked Papuan children.

WPAT Comment: The plight of trafficked Papuan children has a sordid precedent. During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, Indonesian authorities transferred East Timorese children to Java where the children were placed in educational institutions, almost always Islamic schools. Many of the children fled these schools and found homes in the streets of Jakarta and other cities. Some of the children were developed by Indonesian security forces and intelligence services for deployment back into East Timor. Many also populated the ranks of the "militias" which, along with Indonesian security forces and intelligence services sought to terrorize the people of East Timor in the months leading up to the 1999 referendum that led to East Timor’s independence.

KNPB Calls For Election Boycotts

The National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) has called for the boycott of Indonesia’s coming April 9 parliamentary and July’s presidential elections. Wim Roky Medalama, spokesperson for the KNPB, described boycotting as "a form of resistance against Indonesian rule." He said that "Papuans never acknowledge that we are part of the Indonesian nation. Papua was an independent nation." Wim added that "If Indonesia wants Papua to be part of Indonesia, they should have asked the people through a referendum whether they want to be part of Indonesia or not."

The call for a boycott has received support. Maikel Awom, an activist of the Risen Papua Student Coalition said that they supported it. "Our demand is for the Papuan Legislative Council (DPR Papua) to form local regulations on the existence of the Papuan People’s Protection on Cultural Recognition, Indigenous Customary Rights to land and the prohibition of alcohol circulation," Awom said.

Pacific Island Leaders Sets Date for Summit

The Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ summit will convene in Belau from July 29 to August 1, 2014. Preparatory meetings for the summit will be held in Suva in early July.

WPAT Note: This is an important annual meeting, though Australia and New Zealand largely influence the direction of the event. It is not yet clear whether there will be a push at this forum to consider West Papuan concerns. Groups in Australia and elsewhere last year urged the forum to take up the human rights issues in the territory. At the 2011 meeting of the forum UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed West Papua in response to questions during a press conference.

More Ecological Destruction and Rights Abuse at a Palm Oil Plantations in West Papua

A new report summarized in awas MIFEE reveals that a company operating a palm oil plantation in Merauke is violating its plan of work and endangering its workers. Security force personnel associated with the project are harassing Papuans living in the area and in at least one account engaged in torture.

The report documents a visit to PT Dongin Prabhawa’s palm oil/forestry plantation near Mam in Merauke district by JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission) MSC Indonesia. The group reveals that the company had been clearing the forest and taking the wood on barges to the Korindo Group’s plywood factory in Asiki. An employee told the monitors that the company was logging in an areas outside those assigned in its 2012 annual work plan.

Police assigned to work for PT Dongin Prabhawa were mistreating local Papuans. The police reportedly detained and beat Papuans for alleged offenses such as drinking. In the most serious incident, the military arrested a company employee in February and tortured him while in custody.

The report also noted a "worrying disregard for worker’s health and safety." According to the report, workers stationed at one site on the plantation drink water from holes dug close to where chemical fertilizers are in use. From December 2013 to February 2014, PT Dongin Prabhawa had not provided either contracted nor casual workers the food they were entitled to.

A separate report, describes the consequences of oil palm plantation development in Manokwari. On February 16-17, a massive flood destroyed or severely damaged 139 houses in Mansaburi village, Masni District, forcing more than 700 residents to flee. Elsewhere in the area, fields were destroyed along with crops and livestock. Local observers said that the unprecedented flooding was a consequence of oil palm plantation development by PT Medco Papua Jijau Selaras. The Wariori river which passes through the plantation has become a constant threat to locals because forests have been cleared by Medco as far upstream as the mountains. The deforested land acts to greatly concentrate and accelerate the flow of rain water into the Wariori which now poses a constant threat to villagers, especially during the monsoon season.

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Jakarta Engineers Demographic Change and Political Fragmentation in West Papua

The February 10 The Jakarta Post published detailed coverage of a recent seminar on the demography of West Papua, organized by the Research Center of Politics at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). The seminar highlighted the impact of transmigration and voluntary migration to West Papua over during and after the Suharto dictatorship.

Presentations at the seminar revealed that the 2010 population census showed that migration rate into West Papua was the highest in Indonesia.

There was general acknowledgement that the Suharto era transmigration policy hurt the local population and the environment as new settlements destroyed tropical forests. While the transmigration policy "had practically ceased in the early 1990," voluntary migration has continued with the same effect damaging the ecology of West Papua and marginalizing its people.

The swelling population of non-Papuans in West Papua had led to increased communal tensions and even strife. That strife has included occasional attacks by armed Papuan militias on migrants; communal confrontations, and security force assaults on Papuans.

At the seminar it was argued the decision to create a new Papuan province was "originally perceived as part of Jakarta’s rule and divide policy, to weaken the potential separatist movement in Papua." But local elites who saw the economic and political benefits pressed for more subdivisions. This growing pressure for creation of new administrative entities has also led to conflict among Papuans as various local elites compete to create new districts and sub-districts in order to generate a flow of government support into which they can tap. This fragmentation of Papuan society, which is aggravated by the enormous ethnic diversity among Papuans, significantly contributes "to the divisive nature of political leadership in Papua" today.

A study presented to the seminar by Sidney Jones from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflicts (IPAC) sought to link political mobilization by the local elites who want new regencies to the political and communal violence in several highland districts. She argued that that divisions among Papuans were no longer a consequence of a "divide and rule" strategy by Jakarta, because the Papuans had now divided themselves. (WPAT Note: In reality, Jakarta itself has generated the incentives for political fragmentation under the rubric of decentralization. Indonesian officials conspire behind the scenes and sometimes directly with Papuan political figures in the creation of new administrative units. The resulting atomization of Papuan politics serves Jakarta’s broader intention of attenuating Papuan pressure for self-determination.)

Muridan Widjojo the leader of the LIPI research group, noted that no single authority represented Papuans. Muridan, who also leads Jaringan Damai Papua (Papua Peace Network) with Father Neles Tebay, cautioned that the future entailed a long and tedious process to lay the initial foundations for a dialogue to resolve the conflicts in Papua.

CHRONICLE

Healthcare

"Dying for Nothing" by Bobby Anderson in Inside Indonesia argues that in "Papua’s highlands, the marriage of special autonomy funding with elite political and clan machinations has combined to break the healthcare system.

Indonesia ‘Thanks’ Freeport

ETAN issued a mock "thank you postcard" from the Indonesian military to the mining giant Freeport McMoRan for its support. The military thanks Freeport for hiring it "to torture and kill" those who protest near the mines. Other cards were to the World Bank, ExxonMobil and Time, which sponsored an Indonesia investment conference soon after Suharto’s bloody takeover. Freeport was an important attendee.

Demographic Trends in West Papua

Theo Van Den Broek, a highly regarded observer. comments on the myriad problems facing Papuan society including weak civil society, and demographic trends which deepen the plight of the marginalized Papuans.

At least 74 Political Prisoners in Papuan Jails

According to a report from Papuan Behind Bars there were at least 74 political prisoners in jail at the end of the January. The report reviews several notorious instances of abusive treatment by police. West Papuans who sought to deliver messages to members of a visiting delegation of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in West Papua were "manhandled" and "arbitrarily arrested." Their counterparts who staged a similar demonstration when the MSG visitors were in Jakarta were not subjected to these "repressive tactics" notes the report (see also February 2014 Report). Papuans Behind Bars also reviews harsh sentences proposed against five peaceful protesters in Biak arrested in May 2013 and the torture of 12 peaceful protesters in Jayapura held in police custody following a demonstration in November 2013. Their fate only recently came to light after "the detainees were transferred to Abepura prison and could be accessed by lawyers and human rights workers." The group said that police lied "to human rights lawyers offering to represent the detainees, stating they already had representation."

Link to the is issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2014/1403wpap.htm

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