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AWPA: Summary of events in West Papua for September 2014

October 14, 2014

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

Summary of events in West Papua for September 2014- 11 October

The Australia West Papua Association offers its condolences to the family and friends of John Ondawame who died in Port Vila on the 4 September from a heat attack. John had dedicated his life to the liberation of West Papua. He will be sorely missed. John was from the Amungme tribe in Mimika regency in the territory of West Papua. He was the vice-chairman of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL). After Indonesia’s take over of the former Dutch colony of Netherlands New Guinea and seeing first hand Indonesia’s brutal occupation, John eventually took to the bush and became a member of the OPM, the Free Papua Movement. After crossing the border into PNG to discuss an incident of hostage taking (by the OPM) with the PNG Government, he was arrested and eventually accepted by Sweden as a refugee, gaining Swedish nationality.

During his time in Australia he made many friends while campaigning to raise awareness about West Papua. He met his first wife Dolly Zonggonau while studying here. He obtained his PHD degree in political science from the ANU in Canberra in 2000, MSc degree from the University of Western Sydney in 1995, Graduate Diploma from the University of Sydney in 1994. He was one of the founding coordinators of the West Papua Project at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and also one of the founding members (with Rex Rumakiek) of the Australia West Papua Association in Sydney. His PhD resulted in his book, "One People One Soul" West Papuan Nationalism and the Organisasi Papua Meredka (2010)

In 2003 he gained residence in Vanuatu, one of the few countries supporting West Papua in international fora. He died on the 4th of September 2014 in Port Vila, Vanuatu from a massive heart attack. He leaves behind his second wife Leisani from FIJI and his young son Jacob. It says something of John’s stature that at his burial in Vila the Prime Minister of Vanuatu Joe Natuman, with other politicians attended the ceremony. The Prime Minister of Vanuatu also mentioned John in his statement delivered at the 691h Session of the United Nations General Assembly 29th September 2014, UN Headquarters, New York

“I cannot close this section of my speech without paying tribute to late Dr. John Ondowame, a Freedom fighter from West Papua who passed away last month while in exile in my country. He was laid to rest in my country as a hero who had fought for the rights to self-determination for the people of West Papua. He and other martyrs had a dream that one day the United Nations and all nations advocating and promoting the democratic principles will, hear their cries and deliver the promise of a self-determined future. At his funeral service, I stated that his struggle for freedom and justice will continue to be our struggle until colonialism is eradicated”.

Memorial services were held in West Papua and the region in his memory. Photos of the service in Vila at and in Sydney at

French Journalists

Much of the media attention on West Papua in the past month focused on the arrest of the two French Journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois who were arrested on the 6th of August in Wamena and remain detained in Jayapura. They could face up to five years in prison. Their case has now been handed over to Papua’s chief prosecutor and it was reported that it will go to court within seven days. The media organisation Reporters Without Borders has launched a petition for the immediate release of the pair. Its Secretary General, Christophe Deloire, says they did not apply for press visas because they are rarely granted, and would have resulted in restrictions on their ability to report freely. Numerous rallies have been held by solidarity groups calling for their release including in New Zealand and Australia. Photos of the Sydney rally at

On Monday 13 October a peaceful rally by Papuan Students will be held in Bandung in West Java calling for the release of journalists. In New Zealand Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty has urged the returning government in New Zealand to make good on the recently passed parliament resolution to press for media freedom in West Papua. In Australia the Senate passed a motion by Greens senator Richard Di Natale with the explicit support from the Foreign Minister’s office, expressing concern over the imprisonment of two French journalists for reporting in Indonesia’s restive province using tourist visas. The Senate called for the Australian government to request Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat’s release.;fileType=application%2Fpdf

Papuans behind bars

In its latest update Papuans behind bars reported that at the end of September 2014, there were at least 74 political prisoners in Papuan jails. It also noted that reports of attacks against lawyers in Papua indicate that the situation is becoming worse for those involved in human rights work. Full report at

Tapol released an appeal concerning the Intimidation of prominent Papuan lawyer and human rights defender Gustaf Kawer which has provoked a local, national and international outcry. Mr Kawer, who has provided legal defence for numerous cases involving peaceful political activity and indigenous land disputes, has bizarrely been summoned by Papua police as a witness in a case against himself. The case has been brought by a court judge after Mr Kawer criticized the judge for ignoring his request for the trial to be delayed, to allow himself and his client to be present at the hearing of a case involving an indigenous land dispute with the government. To date Mr Kawer has received two summonses from the police and is threatened with prosecution under Articles 211 and 212 of the Penal Code. If proceedings continue Mr Kawer could potentially face up to four years imprisonment.

AWPA also wrote concerning the intimidation againstGustaf Kawer

Amnesty International released an U/A concerning an attack on another human rights lawyer Anum Siregar in Wamena, Papua province. Anum Siregar was attacked by an unknown person at about 11pm on 16 September on the way back to her hotel from a court hearing. The attacker, armed with a knife, stole her bag and injured her hand before fleeing the scene. Anum Siregar received treatment for her injuries at Wamena hospital, requiring at least two stitches.

In brief

OPM member killed. The Jakarta Globe reported that a member of the OPM was killed and several were wounded in a firefight with security officers at an airfield in Lanny Jaya district on the 17. The shootout is believed to have involved about 30 OPM fighters from a group led by Puron Wenda.

Soldier killed. A soldier was killed in an armed attack in Puncak Jaya Regency in Papua on Sept. 25. A spokesman for the Papua military command Lt. Col. Rikas Hidayatullah told the Jakarta Globe that four members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) were ambushed at a traditional market in Ilaga on Sept. 25. The soldiers, who were picking up supplies for the inauguration of Ilaga district’s new chief, were fired at by a group of 10 men, he said. A soldier identified as Second Private Abraham was reportedly shot in the head. The attackers then snatched Abraham’s weapon before fleeing into the jungle. No other soldiers were injured.

NZ Foreign Minister urges media access for Papua

RNZI 15 September. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister has expressed hope that Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo will open up Papua region to international media. This comes as two French journalists remain detained in Jayapura following their arrests in Papua over a month ago for alleged visa violations. Johnny Blades reports. "During his recent campaign, Jokowi said there was no impediment to opening up Papua which is restricted for foreign journalists. New Zealand’s Murray McCully says his government hopes that once in power, Jokowi will move to relax the rules related to media access and ensure that journalists have the opportunity to report on Papua. Mr McCully also voiced concern about recent Indonesian police mistreatment of two young West Papuans. Amnesty International says the pair, who had painted pro-independence signs in Manokwari, were tortured, beaten, forced to roll in a sewer filled with dirty water and to drink paint. One of them is facing an incitement charge."

Statements on Papua Delivered before Human Rights Council

The following two statements on the situation of human rights defenders and freedom of expression in Papua which were delivered on 15 and 16 September 2014 during the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai for their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people’s rights, including the right to education..

For the second year in a row, Free West Papua Campaign founder Benny Wenda had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, an honour in itself.

Indonesian government to construct road in Papua`s middle mountain area

Kamis, 25 September 2014 1

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News) – The Public Works Ministry is prioritizing the construction of a road in the middle mountain area of Papua Province giving the local people another option besides air transportation. His institution is prioritizing the road development that connects several districts, Chief of the Tenth National Road Project Agency, Thomas Setiabudi, told ANTARA here Thursday. The roads will connect districts that are located in the mountain area with areas located on the coast, Thomas said. The ministry is developing a road that connects Wagete to Timika, and from there it will continue to Paniai, Nabire and Ilaga districts. They will also develop a road from Wamena-Habema-Kenyam that will continue to the Dekai-Oksibil-Iwur-Tanah Merah areas, Thomas said. The road will connect to other areas such as Yetti, Senggi, Usku and Mamberamo apart from Tenggon, Elelim and Wamena. The Papuan people can use several roads that have been connected including Wamena to Mulia, Wamena to Tiom and Nabire to Enarotali. "Even the road that connects Jayapura and Mamberamo can be used even though it is only connected by a bridge," Thomas said. Additionally, the ministry will also develop several roads that connect the coastal areas such as Jayapura-Sarmi and Serui-Menawi-Saubeba. "We hope none of the regions will be isolated after the increasing number of areas that will be connected through the roads," Thomas added. (Uu.B019/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

West Papua meeting confirmed for December

RNZI 26 September 2014. Vanuatu’s West Papua Unification Committee has confirmed its conference in Port Vila will now be held from the 4th of December following the National Day and flag raising ceremony on the first. The chairman of the committee Pastor Allan Nafuki says the delay will allow the 80 invited West Papuan delegates to raise funds and prepare their travel documentation to ensure maximum attendance. He says the conference is to provide an avenue for the different groupings in West Papua to come to an agreement on a unified bid for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. A formal membership application by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation was knocked back by the MSG earlier this year, whose leaders called for a more representative bid.

Opinion pieces/press releases/reports etc.

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