Summary of events in West Papua for May 2015
Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088
Summary of events in West Papua for May 2015
Release of political prisoners
On the 9 May the Indonesian President visited West Papua and announced clemency for 5 West Papuan prisoners and the lifting of media bans for foreign journalists wanting to visit West Papua. The five men granted clemency were convicted over a 2003 raid on an Indonesian military arms depot. The five prisoners released are Apotnaholik Lokobal, Kimanus Wenda and Linus Hiluka (each were sentenced to 20 years in prison) and Numbungga Telenggen and Yafrai Murib, who were sentenced to life. The prisoners were disappointed because they did not receive an amnesty. “I am disappointed, that we previously knew we would be granted an amnesty. But when we arrived in Abepura, we just found out that we received a pardon. No one informed us,” Lakobal told Jubi after the granting of pardon ceremonial at Abepura Prison on Saturday (9/5/2015). To receive clemency or pardon, prisoners have to admit guilt before it is granted. Political Prisoners such as Filep Karma one of the most well known political prisoner in West Papua has refused clemency (as have the majority of political prisoners) as they refuse to admit any guilt in return for a release. AWPA believes the Indonesia Government should grant an amnesty to all West Papuan political prisoners, releasing them immediately and unconditionally. Only then can we know if Jokiwi is serious in trying to solve the problems in West Papua. http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/media-release-5-west-papuan-prisoners.html
Lifting of media bans
The lifting of media bans for foreign journalists wanting to visit West Papua seems encouraging at first but it raises the questions
1) is this just an image making exercise or stunt? The Indonesian President has received international condemnation because of his policy on the death penalty for drug offences.
2) will his decision be actually implemented. Jakarta’s or Jokiwis policies aren’t necessarily carried out by relevant officials and security forces in West Papua
3) and if they are allowed in will official minders or BIN agents follow or control their movements.
Already statements from officials question how free journalists will be to report on issues of concern in West Papua.
The Indonesian Parliament’s Deputy Chairman Taufik Kurniawan earlier asked the President Jokowi to reconsider his policy to open access for foreign press in Papua. “I think it’d be better to reconsider because the issues in Papua which are currently are very sensitive could be easily politicized either its poverty or social aspects if there is no filter,” Kurniawan said at the Parliament Building in Jakarta on Tuesday (12/5). (Jubi)
The country’s chief security minister, however, indicated nothing had changed in Jakarta’s stance vis-a-vis allowing the foreign press to report from the region. “We’ll allow it, on condition that they report on what they see, not go around looking for facts that aren’t true from armed groups,” said Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, effectively ruling out any attempt by foreign journalists to contact OPM members and other separatist sympathizers. He added that journalists would also need permission from the authorities to report from the country’s mountainous hinterland — the heart of the insurgency. (Jakarta Globe10/5/15).
And from the executive director of the Indonesian news agency Antara.
Saiful Hadi, said that Indonesia should penalize journalists, including those from abroad, who broadcast biased and imbalanced news about Papua. "We should subject journalists to a strict penalty if they broadcast news on Papua that is based on fictive information and data," he stated here on Tuesday. Hadi added that the penalty issue is related to the governments policy on providing foreign journalists open access to enter Papua. http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/99071/indonesia-should-penalize-reporters-for-biased-news-on-papua-journalist
A Jubi interview with President Joko Widodo at
Crackdown on peaceful rallies in May
On the 1st, 20th and 28th May, the security forces cracked down on peaceful rallies called by civil society organisations in West Papua.
On the 1 May over 250 activists were arrested on the anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of the province. The crackdown on the rallies of the 1 May were covered in the previous update. http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/update-on-rallies-on-1-may-in-west-papua.html
On the 20 May over 80 activists were arrested for rallying in support of West Papuan membership at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Many were beaten by members of the security forces. The rallies were called by three major organizations, the Federal Republic of West Papua (NRFPB), West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) and the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). http://tabloidjubi.com/en/2015/05/21/police-arrest-84-activists-in-arbitrary-move-knpb-says/
On the 28 May more rallies were held throughout West Papua. The rallies were again in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and its application to the Melanesian Spearhead Group for membership. Media reports and postings concerning the rallies at
http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/update-on-rallies-in-west-papua-on-28.html The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) denied media reports that KNPB members had engaged in violence after their plans to hold a demonstration in Perumnas III Waena, Jayapura did not materialize on the 28th. “The news in the local media that KNPB protesters acted anarchic due to failing to hold a demonstration is not true at all,” Agust Kosay, first chairman of KNPB said to the Jubi, last week. He said the anarchic acts were committed by certain actors who intended to spread chaos and shaped public opinion that KNPB was an anarchic organization. The people who threw rocks at the police were provocateurs, he said. “The incident occurred before KNPB members arrived. Obviously there are criminalization efforts against KNPB and its activists,” he added. http://tabloidjubi.com/en/2015/06/01/knpb-denies-activists-involved-in-violence/
Melanesian Spearhead Group
The Indonesian President visited PNG on the 11 May for a two-day visit. During his visit PM Peter O’Neill backed a move for Indonesia to become an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Peter O’Neill said he wanted the elected leaders, the governors of West Papuan provinces, to be represented at the Melanesian Spearhead Group. “This application is now in the hands of our Melanesian nations to decide. If this application is accepted, MSG will welcome a delegation agreed by the Governors of the five Melanesian provinces in Indonesia to attend Melanesian Spearhead Group meetings.” PM O’Neill said his nation had "no visibility of what is happening in West Papua", so the Indonesian application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group was "very important". Mr O’Neill seems to have missed the ongoing rallies in West Papua by the Papuan people who have many times stated that the ULMWP represents them and that the ULMWP’s application to the MSG had their support. Northern Governor Gary Juffa MP said he has no confidence that the Melanesian Spearhead Group will act in the interests of the region’s people over a West Papuan bid for MSG membership. If the MSG is not promoting the interest of Melanesians then it must be disbanded. His statements come after PNG has supported Indonesia’s bid to be an associate member of the MSG. http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201754363/msg-has-failed-its-original-purpose,-says-png-mp During Jokowi’s visit seven people were also arrested protesting Indonesia’s rule of West Papua. The protest was led by the PNG Union for a Free West Papua. Its general secretary, David Dom Kua, says police broke up the protest just before Mr Widodo touched down, and he and six others were detained for several hours. The group was later released without charge. Mr Kua says their detention was illegal and done in an attempt to hide them from the visiting President. (RNZI 13 May)
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama also said engagement with Indonesia is the best way to handle issues of abuse in the Indonesia region of Papua. The Fiji Sun reported that Mr Bainimarama said there is a lot of concern about what is happening in Papua with talks of assault and human rights abuses. But he says at the end of the day it was an issue of Indonesia’s sovereignty. He says the best thing to do is to make Indonesia an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and it did not make sense to bring in Papua separately. Civil Society Groups in Fiji expressed concern at Prime Minister Bainimarama’s statement for Indonesia’s bid to become an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). In a press release the CSO group urged the Fijian Government to recognize the ULMWP as the legitimate representative of West Papua to MSG. “The West Papuan people through process of consultation have decided who to represent them, and it is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) who has submitted an application to the MSG to be a full member. Reports last week indicate that over 70 people have been arrested in West Papua for supporting ULMWP”. http://pang.org.fj/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/here1.pdf Civil society and church groups in the Melanesian countries continue to lobby their governments to support the ULM’s application to the MSG.
News in brief
Papuans behind bars reported that at the end of April 2015, there were at least 44 political prisoners in Papua. Papuan human rights groups reported two new cases of torture in Pirime and Lanny Jaya in the Central Highlands. In Lanny Jaya, two men were tortured in relation to the possession of a pistol belonging to a deceased relative which they had attempted to hand over to authorities in response to a weapons amnesty. In Pirime, two teenagers were arrested and tortured following a military raid on a village church. Cabang Tabuni, one of the two victims, died after more than six months in police detention suffering from serious gunshot injuries without receiving medical treatment. Full update at http://www.papuansbehindbars.org/?p=3429
5,100 HIV/AIDS cases detected in Wamena
The Jakarta Post,May 19 2015
Wamena, a densely populated town with a population of 48,640 in the central highlands of resource-rich Papua, is known not only for its beauty but also for its high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. According to recent data of the AIDS Prevention Commission (KPA) in Jayawijaya, the number of people with HIV/AIDS in the town has reached 5,100 as a result of rampant prostitution. In cooperation with NGOs, public health centers and integrated healthcare posts, “we are racing against the time to tackle the high prevalence,” Antara news agency quoted KPA chairman Gad Piramid Tabuni as saying in Jayawijaya, Papua, on Tuesday. He said that the KPA cooperated with security authorities and the health agency to campaign against unsafe sex and to rid the streets of prostitution at food and beverage stalls. He called on others, including churches and mass organizations, to work hand in hand with local authorities in the fight against the deadly condition. (rms)(++++)
Jokowi : No More Problems, Papua Needs No Dialogue
Jayapura, Jubi – Jakarta – A dialogue that has been proposed by the Papua Peace Network seems to hit the wall, after Indonesian President Joko Widodo said such a forum is not needed any more. In the interview with Jubi on Saturday (9/5/2015), Jokowi said: “There are no problems in Papua. So, what is a dialogue for? I’ve often come to Papua and had conversations with the customary chiefs, religious leaders, regents, and mayor as well. We are talking and communicating. What does it mean? It’s a dialogue, isn’t it?” Jokowi said. When told that what Papuans wanted was a political dialogue, he said politics in terms of Papua is the politic of welfare. “Well, our politics in Papua is the politics of development, the politics of prosperity,” he said. What about the resolution for the conflicts that occurred in the past? “The case is closed. We must open a new page. We should move forward,” he said. Separately, the member of Papua Legislative Council’s Commission I for Politic, Government, Legal and Human Right, Ruben Magay said during the time Papuans wanted a dialogue between Jakarta and Papua to resolve many issues occurred in the eastern province of Indonesia. “When celebrating Christmas in Papua in December 2014, Jokowi promised about the dialogue. Now the people of Papua are waiting when it would be done,” said Magay. (Victor Mambor/rom)
Benny Wenda refused entry to the US
On the 13 May as Benny Wenda prepared to board a plane to the US, check-in staff found an alert on their passport system. Mr Wenda was then questioned by an official from the US Homeland Securities bureau office at London’s Heathrow Airport. Benny said “I have travelled to the USA several times for meetings with political representatives, groups and churches. I also attended meetings with State Department officials who told me they approved of my lobbying and campaigning work. So you can imagine my surprise when my ten year visa was revoked without notice.” Benny Wenda, said he was hoping to find out why he refused entry to the United States. He send a request to the US Embassy for reasons and was told it would take five working days for a reply to his request.
Tapol reported that Papuan political detainee Areki Wanimbo was acquitted of conspiracy to commit treason and released from prison, after spending over nine months in detention in West Papua. Mr Wanimbo, an indigenous tribal leader and local teacher was arrested in Wamena in the Central Highlands of West Papua, alongside two French journalists who had travelled to the resource-rich region to investigate one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. Mr Wanimbo was arrested on 6 August 2014 when the journalists he was meeting attracted the attention of intelligence agents. While the trial of the two French journalists was over in a matter of days, Mr Wanimbo’s trial was subject to lengthy and repeated delays. “In the history of political trials in Papua, this the first time in 14 years that a treason suspect has been acquitted; the last time was the case of Theys Eluay. This verdict is a real step forward,” said Latifah Anum Siregar of Mr Wanimbo’s defence team.
Shootings. One person was shot dead and four others were wounded by an unidentified group of people in Purleme kampung in Mulia district, Puncak Jaya regency, Papua, on Tuesday night 26 May The dead victim was identifed as Pengga Enumbi, while the wounded are Marthen Tandipayung, Yulianus Tandidatu, Alfred Tandipayung and Suryanto Tandipayung, according to Antara news agency. Three of the wounded victims were being treated at Mulia General Hospital. The Puncak Jaya police chief requested additional personnel after the incident. On the 27 May it was areported that two soldiers in Enarotali, Paniai District, were taken as hostages. They later escaped. The military said they suspected an armed separatist group was responsible. The Indonesian military vowed to hunt down the armed group that had kidnapped the two soldiers although the soldiers managed to escape.
Opinion pieces/reports /press releases etc.
Arrests at demo demanding justice from PT Permata Putera Mandiri in Sorong
Jokowi relaunches MIFEE, wants 1.2 million hectares of new ricefields within 3 years!
Papua Region Under Jokowi: New President, New Strategies Analysis RSIS
Note. Daily media stories on West Papua can be found at