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West Papua an issue to be pursued, says Forum Secretary General

September 6, 2016

West Papua an issue to be pursued, says Forum Secretary General

By Nic Maclellan (Islands Business magazine) in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

The issue of West Papua will be on the agenda at this week’s Pacific Islands Forum, in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, says that West Papua is a sensitive issue for some Pacific governments, but one that needs to be debated.

“It’s an issue that needs to be pursued and it’s not going to go away,” she said. “Our bigger countries in the region like Australia and New Zealand realise that this issue is just not going to go to sleep – and it shouldn’t go to sleep, because it is very important for our region.”

At last year’s Forum in Port Moresby, West Papua was one of five core topics proposed to Forum leaders through the Framework on Pacific Regionalism – a new mechanism to develop regional policy and collective action.

In the final communique from the Port Moresby summit, Pacific leaders reaffirmed Indonesia’s sovereignty over the two Papuan provinces but “called on all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents in Papua and to work to address the root causes of such conflicts by peaceful means.”

Forum Chair PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was tasked to approach Indonesia to propose a Forum fact-finding mission to West Papua. As outgoing chair, O’Neill will report back to this week’s meeting in Pohnpei, but Indonesia has already made it clear that any mission is unwelcome.

In Pohnpei, Dame Meg Taylor confirmed that the Indonesian Embassy in Suva has told the Forum Secretariat that Jakarta would not welcome a Forum delegation, and was uncomfortable with the term “fact-finding.”

Indonesia is clearly unhappy that the issue of human rights is being connected to broader questions of self-determination, in a region where independence movements in New Caledonia, Bougainville and Guam are preparing for referendums or plebiscites on their political status.

Speaking after a ministerial meeting in Australia last December, Indonesia’s Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu – a former army chief of staff – said that West Papua should not be an issue for regional discussion:

“There are countries that are getting involved in the issue of Papua. For us, Papua is in the United Republic of Indonesia. There is no other solution to talk about it, that’s it, that’s the way it is. So this is so that everyone will know that that doesn’t need to be spoken about.”

Even with the Forum constrained by the policies of larger members like Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, other Pacific Islands countries have continued to advocate for West Papua on the regional and international stage.

At the 2015 summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Melanesian leaders granted associate membership to Indonesia, but also observer status to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), the umbrella organisation for West Papuan nationalist groups campaigning for self-determination.

The ULMWP’s bid for full membership of the MSG has been blocked by Papua New Guinea and Fiji, despite support from the other three MSG members: Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia’s independence movement Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS).

Under Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Solomon Islands has expanded its diplomatic support for the West Papuan nationalist movement, aligning with long-standing supporters like Vanuatu and the FLNKS.

On the sidelines of last week’s Pacific Islands Leaders Conference (PICL) in Honolulu, Prime Minister Sogavare convened a meeting of the People’s Coalition on West Papua, first proposed last July.

As Forum leaders arrive in Pohnpei for this week’s summit, Forum Secretary General Taylor notes: “The Prime Minister of Solomon Islands has called together other countries that are interested in pursuing an alternative strategy to ensure that the issues pertinent to West Papua are raised at the international level.”

Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS are now joined by Nauru, Tuvalu, Tonga and Marshall Islands, which have expressed support for self-determination and an end to human rights abuses in West Papua. The Coalition also includes the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), reflecting growing public awareness on the issue, as information from within West Papua is shared internationally through social media.

Noting that the MSG was also split on the issue, Dame Meg acknowledged that Forum debate would continue to be a sensitive one for the regional organisation: “The challenge here is – will there be a consensus amongst all the leaders of the Pacific?”

Prime Minister Sogavare will not attend this Saturday’s leaders’ retreat, but the debate will continue in the region and internationally. Next April, Indonesia must submit its five-yearly Universal Periodic Review on human rights to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the issue of West Papua will be central to the review.

The ongoing issue of impunity for human rights abuses in Indonesia has been re-kindled by the recent appointment of an indicted war criminal, General (retired) Wiranto, as Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Affairs. In 2003, Wiranto was indicted by a UN-backed court for his role as commander of the military in the security force violence during Timor-Leste’s 1999 independence vote.
Despite pledges to improve dialogue with West Papuan leaders in Jayapura, Wiranto’s appointment by Indonesia’s President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has signalled that the army and police will continue to play a central role in Indonesia’s democratic transition.

As West Papuans continue to seek regional support in the Pacific islands, “this issue is just not going to go to sleep, said Dame Meg.


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2) Pacific NGO’s pleased with Forum engagement space

Pacific civil society organisations are pleased with the improved engagement they are being accorded by the Pacific Island Forum.
One aspect of this was a leaders breakfast with civil society heads first held last year in Papua New Guinea and again being proposed ahead of this year’s Forum leaders meeting in Pohnpei on Thursday.
This also includes having the main outcomes of a Micronesia Civil Society Roundtable held this week being presented to the Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor for inclusion in the leaders meeting.
These include issues around the need for attention and policy discussions on climate migration, West Papua, gender-based violence, disabilities, youth development and strengthening regionalism particular with Northern Pacific states and territories.

PIANGO Executive Director, Emele Duituturanga. Photo: supplied
The Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs Emele Duituturanga said the increased engagement is an encouraging start towards having more issues and concerns of the people of the Pacific being heard by Forum leaders.
"There are a couple of issues there that if not for Civil Society wouldn’t be going to the leaders and so we have a stake and we have a great sense of ownership that the leaders do discuss these issues that we put before them and they do consider the reccomendations that we have also been involved in formulating," she said.
Following the Civil Society Roundtable there was also a call for the Forum to strengthen development ties with Micronesia.
More than 50 representatives from Nauru, Marshall Islands, Guam, the Northern Marianas and the Federated States of Micronesia were joined by their counterparts from Australia, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga for the meeting.
Micronesian board representative of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations Sarah Thomas Nededog said the call for more vigorous regionalism arose because the Northern Pacific was not well informed about the policy processes of the Pacific Islands Forum.
The CSO Roundtable was organised with support from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the European Union.

3) Govt to build border regions into investment-preferred areas
Anton Hermansyah The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Tue, September 6 2016 | 06:25 am

Despite budget cuts that have reduced the government’s capacity in running programs, the Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry has maintained efforts to focus on developing border regions into preferred investment destinations.

The ministry saw a Rp 2.08 trillion (US$158.18 million) cut in its budget allocation this year, which greatly reduced the government’s capacity to develop remote areas and border regions, the ministry’s director general for the development of specific areas, Suprayoga Hadi, told The Jakarta Post at his office in Jakarta on Monday.

However, he reiterated that the government would not scale back its priority to develop border regions and would offer incentives to potential investors.

“We believe if incentives, such as a tax allowance and special economic zone status, are applied to border areas, investors will be eager to develop the areas," Suprayoga said.

Currently, five border regencies are being prioritized, namely Morotai (North Maluku), Sarmi (Papua), Sabu Raijua (East Nusa Tenggara), Western Southeast Maluku and East Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara). Morotai has been declared a special economic zone for tourism.

"Morotai is just a model. It is not necessarily to be a special economic zone, but at least we need to negotiate with other ministries to make other border regions enjoy almost the same incentives as that of Morotai," Suprayoga said. (ags)

4) Papua Police Chief: Investigation on Sugapa Case Will Be Transparent
3 Sept 2016

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Police Chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw promised transparency in handling the investigation into the shooting of Otinus Sondegau, 15, allegedly perpetrated by a Mobile Brigade officer last month.

He said the police would not cover up the investigation the events that led to Otinus’ untimely death.
“We will investigate the incident. We will be transparent in handling this case. After the incident, we promptly sent a team to Sugapa. Deputy Chief Inspector General Rudolf Alberth Rodja was leading the team,” said the chief on last week.

Police investigators have questioned 23 witnesses. including 8 civilians who live near the scene, 10 Mobile Brigade officers and 14 local police officers.

One of the witnesses from the civilian group is a rental car driver who asked for help to Sugapa Police Station.

“Basically they confessed, knew and saw the incident at the moment. As well as the mobile brigade officers who admitted to fire the warning shot at the location around the victim,” he said.

In addition, before the victim was buried, the police investigation team asked permission to the family to do a post mortem over the body. In this investigation, the Papua Police team doesn’t work alone but supported by a team from the Indonesian Police Headquarters.

The police are currently investigating the shooting perpetrator. Papua Police team has repositioned to find out the position of the witnesses in the time of the incident, whether they were civilians, mobile brigade or Sugapa police officers.

“The scene investigation has been done as well. But the cause of the victim’s death is still under further examination. Based on the post mortem report, the shot was allegedly not straight hitting the victim but came from the back and penetrated down to the chest. The relevance of the finding is the shot wasn’t come from the close range. It might come from 100 meters or more,” he said. (*/rom)

3 Sept 2016
5) Papua Transportation Office Upbeat About Airport Construction Projects

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Transportation Office said it remained optimistic it would realize airport construction projects in the province.

The Head of Papua Transportation Office Djuli Mambaya said there is no reason for airport construction in Papua to be delayed, because it would directly connect to those who live in the sub-districts or remote areas.

“Currently we are focusing to the airport in Sugapa, Intan Jaya, while Mamit Airport in Tolikara is also a concern,” he said.

About the construction, said Djuli, the provincial transportation office is currently reviewing the contract, including the airport construction in Mamit, in Sugapa and some other regions. “We have checked the airports along with our staffs and consultants including those from PPTK,” he said.

According to him, he has reviewed the contract document and ready to sign it, then the construction process could be run, and we are very optimistic that it could be completed. “The contract document has been on my table, after the signing, the construction could be done,” he said.

Earlier, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has launched new passenger terminal building and airport apron in Oksibil Airport, Pegunungan Bintang Regency some times ago.

“We hope the new terminal building and apron in Oksibil Airport could be used and benefited by people,” said Enembe.

Meanwhile, the Head of Oksibil Airport Frits J. Ayomi said new passenger terminal building and airport apron in Oksibil Airport were built using the Regional Budget of Pegunungan Bintang Regency. “The governor only launched the building, while the operation would be implemented in 2018,” said Ayomi. (*/rom)

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