Dec. 2015 West Papua Report: Fires, Filep Karma, transmigration, Dec. 1 flags, arrests, more
West Papua Report
This edition’s Perspective looks at the spread of fires in West Papua that are linked to the expansion of palm oil and other plantations.
Update notes the release of political prisoner Filep Karma and offers his perspective on the danger of division among Papuans arising from Indonesian government "divide and rule" policies. Police brutally broke up a large Papuan demonstration in Jakarta on December 1 and arrests in West Papua of those preparing a prayer service to commemorate the day. Senior U.S. State Department officials ignored the violations of Papuan human rights in testimony before the U.S. Congress. Young Papuans spoke out against transmigration. Four Papuan activists arrested in May have been sentenced to prison terms. A Papuan official acknowledged the continuing failure of the Indonesian government to provide health care for Papuans.
In Chronicle: New reports on human rights in West Papua from the International Coalition on Papua and Human Rights Watch. An article reviews Australia’s failure to address human rights concerns in West Papua. A new book focuses on civil resistance in West Papua, and a recently released documentary looks at life in West Papua including human rights violations.
Forests Burn: Jakarta’s Latest Crime Against the Papuan People
As the world’s nations met in Paris on climate change, the fires raging in Indonesia brought attention to one of the world’s worst emitters of climate warming gases. The fires raised Indonesia from the sixth to the fourth-largest emitting country.
While the world focused on Indonesia’s efforts to deal with fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, this year areas in Papua burned on an unprecedented scale, consuming 353,191 hectares in recent months.
The Indonesian government has long colluded with foreign and domestic corporate interests in the exploitation of West Papua’s vast natural resources. Deforestation has long been a problem in Papua, accelerated by illegal logging facilitated by corrupt soldiers and police. Freeport McMoRan‘s destruction of Papuan environment is widely known.
In recent years, Jakarta has sought to exploit West Papua’s vast agricultural potential.Ignoring Papuan land rights, the Indonesian government has expropriated vast tracts of mostly forested land to establish food and palm oil plantations.
Throughout the archipelago, Indonesian officials have looked the other way as foreign and domestic corporations cleared land for oil palm plantations. The companies often take advantage of dry season conditions to clear large tracts of forest. The annual, illegal burning has been common especially in Sumatra and Borneo (East, West and Central Kalimantan), and the toxic haze produced by the burning has affected local populations and raised health alarms throughout Southeast Asia.