West Papua Report October 2015
West Papua Report
This edition’s Perspective presents the views of the governments of Solomon Islands, Tonga and Indonesia as presented during the UN General Assembly’s general debate.
Update summarizes the recent meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum where West Papua was prominent on the agenda. The Forum agreed to send a " fact-finding mission" to West Papua. The Widodo Administration to revive and expand the Merauke Industrial Food and Energy Estate Project (MIFEE), a project that will have disastrous consequences for local Papuans. Police twice this month assaulted Papuan students in the Timika area, killing one. The Defense Minister has announced plans to resume recruiting paramilitaries in certain areas, including West Papua. There is a long tradition of military employment of nationalist thugs to intimidate local populations. The investigation of the December 2014 Paniai police murder of Papuans remains stalled.
In Chronicle: New report over emphasizes alleged Papuan violence at the expense of what it even calls the "far larger and far more active presence" of the political pressure groups within and outside West Papua. Maori Television broadcasts first directly-reported segments on West Papua by a New Zealand network. Indonesian diplomat answers article on growing international efforts by West Papuans.
Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2015/1510wpap.htm.
Pacific Islands’ Leaders Support West Papua at the UN
by The Editors
The growing regional concern over the plight of Papuans in West Papua has been demonstrated in such key regional groupings as the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) (see past articles from the West Papua Report on the MSG) and the Pacific Islands Forum (see article below ). Now, regional leaders have brought their concerns to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Their remarks sparked what may be the first discussion in the UNGA on West Papua since the UN body "took note" of the Act of Free Choice in 1969.On October 1, the chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) andSolomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare and on September 29 thePrime Minister of Tonga Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva raised the issue of West Papua at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Indonesia then exercised its right of reply to the Prime Ministers’ remarks, prompting replies from the delegations of the two Pacific countries.
In 2013 Vanuatu’s then-Prime Minister Moana Kalosil Carcasse, called on the UN to "rectify" the "historical error" that led people of West Papua to be "sacrificed to gratify the appetite for the natural resources which this country possess. Today they are still the victims of ignorance of the UN."
Prime Minister Sogavare updated the UNGA on developments at the MSG and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). He urged Indonesia to accept unrestricted access to a PIF a fact-finding mission to West Papua. ( See below on prospects for the success of this fact-finding mission.)
Sogavare called attention to "the continuing concerns of human rights violations in the Papua and West Papua regions of Indonesia." He said that the "Solomon Islands together with the Pacific Islands Forum are seeking genuine dialogue and cooperation with Indonesia. The outreach is to resolve and dissolve reported allegations of human rights violations occurring on two of Indonesia’s ethnic Melanesian regions namely Papua and West Papua."
He called on the UN Human Rights Council "to do more in investigating and monitoring of allegations of human rights abuse and violence on ethnic Melanesians in the concerned regions of Indonesia."
He concluded by stating: "In the long term however, the United Nations cannot shy away from the root causes of these violations." Earlier in his speech, he called "for the full and swift implementation of the 1960 declaration on the granting of Independence to colonized countries and peoples."
Tonga’s Prime Minister urged the General Assembly "to work together against injustice and cruel violations of human rights. And in the case of West Papua in Melanesia in the Pacific, this is within our power. It is a choice that those with power and privilege can make. The United Nations has the duty to closely follow up this West Papua case, and necessary action be taken to stop the brutal and inhuman activities."
Indonesia exercised its right of reply by rejecting Tonga’s and the Solomon Islands’ "references to the ‘so-called human rights issue in West Papua’ as "dangerously misleading,’" according to a UN media summary. Indonesia’s representative said that "her country had a robust national human rights protection system and continued to strengthen its related institutions and legislation." Any references to "inaccurate allegations" of human rights violations were politically motivated.
"The provinces of Papua and West Papua enjoyed wide-ranging autonomy, guaranteed by national laws, including in the election of governors and other heads of regional Governments. The Government was committed to continuing engagement, in good faith, with Pacific island countries, with which some of its people had strong commonalities, for peace and prosperity in the region," according to the UN report.
Tonga’s delegate responded that "his country had received reports of and was concerned about alleged human rights violations." His country "would like to engage in friendly dialogue with Indonesia to gain a better understanding of violations and perhaps establish a fact-finding mission to determine the situation on the ground."
The delegate from the Solomon Islands noted that "All States had a legal responsibility to uphold human rights and to take measures against human rights violations. The Solomon Islands would like to work with Indonesia on violations in Papua and West Papua. Indeed, his country was also ready to work with Indonesia and with everyone in the multilateral system through the Human Rights Council."