Summary of events in West Papua for August 2014
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088
Summary of events in West Papua for August 2014
Crackdown on civil society groups and intimidation of journalists
In the past month the security forces have continued to crack down on peaceful demonstrators and intimidate journalists covering rallies in West Papua.
On the 15 August members of the Student Movement, Youth and People of Papua (Gempar) or Uproar held a peaceful rally at Cenderawasih University Campus (Uncen), Jayapura in order to denounce the New York Agreement. A number of activists were arrested. The Jayapura police chief, Superintendent Alfred Papare said the arrests were made because Uproar is an illegal organisation and they did not have a permit to hold the rally. A spokesperson for Uproar said that permission to hold the rally was presented to the Papua Police at the beginning of August. Journalists covering the rally on the 15th were also intimidated by the police. One reporter from Jubi, was grabbed by the police while taking photographs of the rally. Reporters from other media including Suara Papua, Majalah Selangkah and Metro Online were also intimidated. The police tried to stop photos being taking, asking that images be deleted. The Chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Jayapura City, Victor Mambor criticized the police action to intimidate journalists while covering demonstrations, noting that police should be able to distinguish between journalists and protesters. Peaceful rallies to protest the New York Agreement were also held in Yogyakarta, Solo and Semarang although heavily monitored by the security forces.
French journalists arrested
Two French journalists were arrested on the 6 August by the police. Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat were working for Franco-German television channel Arte when they were detained. Police said Mr Dandois was arrested at a hotel in the city of Wamena with three so-called separatists from the Free Papua Movement (OPM). According to the provincial police spokesperson, Sulityo Pudjo Hartono, the authorities were concerned that the French nationals were part of a plan to create insecurity and instability in Papua. Overseas journalists are usually deported and the continuing detention of the two journalists is taking media intimidation in West Papua to a new level. The Papua police spokesman also said the two documentary filmmakers could face up to five years in prison and a 500 million rupiah ($42,000) fine. Michael Bachelard reported in the SMH (14 August) that the detention of two French journalists had taken a dangerous turn with local police suggesting the pair were present at an exchange of ammunition by a separatist group and should be charged with subversion.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Indonesian authorities to release Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat immediately. "These arrests serve as a flagrant reminder that the Indonesian government continues to restrict journalists from reporting on sensitive areas of the country," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. "Indonesian authorities should release Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat immediately." Reporters Without Borders has also raised concerns and regards their continuing detention as illegal. Various civil society organisations both inside West Papua and overseas have called for the release of the journalists.
The Jakarta Globe reported on the 1st September that Immigration officials have extended the detention period of two French journalists. “We will extend their detention to complete their dossiers, which we’re working on,” Gardu Tampubolon, the head of the Jayapura immigration office, was quoted as saying by state-run news agency Antara on Monday. The immigration office also rejected the request to place the two journalists, Thomas Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, under “city arrest,” which would mean they’re allowed to leave jail but not the city. The journalists are currently being held at the immigration detention center in Jayapura.
Normally journalists arrested in West Papua for visa irregularities are deported and the arrest of the French journalists who could face up to five years in jail takes the intimidation of journalists to a new level. One analyst believes it is a challenge to the incoming president, Jokowi by the security forces (who want to protect their interests in West Papua) and want to see how he will react to the situation. It should be remembered that Jokowi has recently visited West Papua twice, and in the lead up to the election promised to open West Papua to foreign journalists and non-government organisations if he won the election. "Why not? It’s safe here in Papua," he was quoted as saying. "There’s nothing to hide." If the journalists are not released they could become a “Cause celebre “ for activists and fellow journalists.
The crackdown on civil society groups have been ongoing since the beginning of July. Leading up to the presidential election on the 9 July, civil society groups had called for a peaceful boycott of the election. However, the security forces arrested many West Papuan activists simply because there were peacefully distributing literature calling for a boycott of the election as is their democratic right. Six KNPB activists were arrested, beaten and taken to the Jayapura Police Station on the 3 July because they were distributing leaflets calling for a boycott and in Timika on the 4 July seven KNPB activists were also arrested and beaten for handing out leaflets. A woman was arrested in Kaimana on the 5 of July for the same reason.
In Manokwari two members of KNPB, Robert Yelemaken and Oni Weya, who are students were arrested and beaten on the 8 August. The incident occurred after a number of KNPB members were painting on walls calling for a boycott of Indonesian Independence Day celebrations in the city of Manokwari.
Following criticism and demonstrations, Manokwari Police released Roberth Yelemaken on the 18 August. However, Oni Wea 21-year-old university studenthas been charged with “incitement”.
Amnesty International released a public statement (30 August) in relation to the crackdown on civil society groups and the arrests of the French journalists
AWPA also wrote to Julia Bishop concerning the crackdown on civil society groups and the arrest of the journalists.
The Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan has urged the Australian Government to not turn a blind eye to Indonesia’s treatment of the indigenous population of Papua province. "I think we need to learn from past mistakes – the Balibo Five, the annexation of East Timor – the situation that we have in West Papua [is] that we want to see clear, transparent, democratic government," Senator Madigan said.
The situation in West Papua is not improving and will continue to deteriorate. This should be seen in the context of Jakarta and the security forces becoming extremely concerned at the internationalization of the issue.
Human Rights watch has also called on the newly elected president to focus efforts on tackling the country’s persistent human rights problems, in a letter to the president-elect. Human Rights Watch made specific recommendations on issues concerning religious freedom, impunity of the security forces, women’s rights, free expression, Papua, domestic workers, child migrants, corruption, and indigenous land rights. “As president, Widodo should reverse the failings of the previous administration by giving priority to the human rights problems that have gotten worse over the past decade,” said Phelim King, deputy Asia director. “The new president needs to act decisively to signal that his government will protect the rights of all Indonesians and roll back the country’s culture of impunity.
Papuans behind bars reported in its July update that at the end of July 2014, there were at least 69 political prisoners in Papuan jails. Although there were a number of prisoners released Papuans behind bars reported that there were at least 70political arrests this month, the highest recorded number so far this year. “Many of the arrests related to the recent Presidential Elections on 9 July 2014. At least 36political arrests were related to peaceful calls for an election boycott by Papuan activists, following peaceful demonstrations and distributing of flyers. The freedom to not participate in a democratic process, or to campaign for a boycott, is an undeniable element of democratic freedoms”
Rights campaigner found dead in Sorong
The Papua Police are preparing for an autopsy to be carried out to reveal the cause of death of Marthinus Yohame, 27, who was the head of the Sorong Raya chapter of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), whose body was found wrapped in a sack in Nana waters near Port Dom in Sorong, West Papua.
Human rights activists called on the police to investigate the his death It’s very shocking that the body was found inside a gunny sack floating on the sea,” West Papua human rights lawyer Yan Christian Warinussy told The Jakarta Post. Marthinus Yohame, buried at the Sorong city cemetery on Aug. 27. Background at https://awasmifee.potager.org/?p=1049
Mimika records high number of HIV/AIDS cases
The Jakarta Post, Timika | Archipelago | Sun, August 31 2014. The Mimika chapter of the National AIDS Commission (KPA) says that as of the middle of this year, the number of people with HIV/AIDS in the regency has reached 3,900. This means Mimika regency in Papua has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS cases, following Wamena (5,000) and Nabire (4,000). “According to data we have received, housewives are now the biggest at-risk group concerning HIV/AIDS, compared to commercial sex workers. People from all professions, starting from farmers and fishermen to civil servants and police and military personnel, are vulnerable to the illness as well. HIV/AIDS do not differentiate between age and social group,” said Reynold. HIV/AIDS infections in Mimika were first found in two commercial sex workers in a red-light district in Kampung Kadun Jaya in 1996. Reynold said that with continuous efforts involving all components of society, Mimika could control the spread of new HIV infections. He added that the KPA Mimika was involving religious leaders and families to help eradicate discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS. KPA Mimika continued to introduce information on HIV/AIDS prevention, he said, and train health workers to introduce preventive measures, including encouraging clean and healthy living. (put/ebf)
Soldiers to guard Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border
Kamis, 28 Agustus 2014 20:19 WIB | 1.188 Views
Palu, Central Sulawesi (ANTARA News) – About 450 Indonesian Army (TNI) soldiers will secure the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border area in late September 2014 to replace the previous security personnel. Chief of 174/Anim Ti Waninggap Military Rayon Command Brigadier General Supartodi said here on Thursday that the soldiers will guard the area for the next six months to keep regional stability. "TNI soldiers and Papua New Guinea officers will work in cooperation to maintain harmony," Supartodi noted. He expressed hope that the soldiers should respect to each others policy and must prepare physically and mentally to cope with the weather. Although security conditions in the area is generally safe, Supartodi has urged the soldiers to be vigilant to prevent unwanted actions. The TNI soldiers had conducted the second preduty exercise in Bangga, Sigi District. To prepare the soldiers for the weather, TNI had chosen Bangga as their training area because the region has similar geographical conditions to Merauke, Papua. The two-week training program was completed on August 15, 2014. The soldiers who were mostly from 711/Raksatama Infantry Battalion will replace 715/Mololiatu Infantry Battalion. At the next border guard period, Raksatama soldiers will be replaced by 713/Satyatama Infantry Battalion from Gorontalo.
Opinion pieces/press releases/reports etc.
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U/A-Attempted Criminalization of Papuan Human Rights Lawyer by Law Enforcement Authorities
Indonesia’s Papua Censorship Obsession
Bintuni Bay and the Petrochemical Industry