Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088
AWPA update. December 2011 - beginning January 2012
Workers at the Freeport copper and gold mine who have been on strike since the 15 September have started to return to work. On Tuesday and Wednesday (3rd and 4th Jan) Freeport's management sent buses to collect its workers from the Gorong-gorong terminal in Timika although a workers’ union official predicts that it will take three or four weeks before all the company’s employees will get back to work. The workers agreed to end their strike on Dec. 14, 2011 after Freeport agreed to increase their salaries up to 39 percent and to improve benefits. However, the return to work was delayed because some of the contractors and subcontractors insisted on imposing sanctions on employees who went on strike which was a violation against the agreement between PT Freeport and the SPSI. Union deputy chairman Virgo Salosa (Head of the Mimika chapter of the All Indonesian Workers’ Union) and who used to be an executive of SPSI’s unit at Freeport, urged the company’s contractors and subcontractors to cooperate in the mobilization process of the workers. The strike had paralyzed Freeport Indonesia's giant copper and gold mine with losses for the company reported as high as $18-million (U.S.) per day.
Military operations in the Paniai region
Military operations have been ongoing in the Paniai region causing the displacement of thousands of people, villages burned and reports of villages be strafed by helicopters. According to a report in Jubi (29 December) “The operation has been on-going ever since Brimob troops from East Kalimantan were sent to Paniai in the second week of November” Jubi also believes that this operation will continue as the security forces hunt for the OPM who have moved from Eduda (one of their base camps into woodland areas following an attack by the security forces. The Free Papua Organization says 14 of its members were killed during the attack http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/opm-says-14-guerillas-were-killed-in-police-raid-on-hideout-in-paniai/485002 VIVAnews reported that – “In the aftermath of the occupation of the OPM headquarters by Indonesia's security forces in Eduda, Paniai, the situation has become more tensed. Hundreds of villagers around Eduda were evacuated” http://us.en.vivanews.com/news/read/272754-papua-witnesses-another-acts-of-violence
During the military operations local people have fled their homes becoming internal refugees. The Jakarta Post (7 December) reported that “about 500 inhabitants of Dagouto village in Paniai Regency, Papua, have opted to leave their homes and seek refuge following the deployment of 150 Mobile Brigade officers to their area, Paniai tribe council chief John Gobai said Wednesday”. “Our people have become refugees at Uwatawogi Hall in Enarotali, Paniai, for several weeks. They are now afraid they may not be able to celebrate Christmas at home,” John told reporters at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).” http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/12/07/fearing-police-500-villagers-take-refuge-paniai.html An article in JUBI, (17 December) reported that the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) had “urged the chief of police to immediately withdraw his Brimob troops from the district of Paniai”
“The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has urged the chief of police to immediately withdraw his Brimob troops from the district of Paniai and not to send any more troops there. This request is made in a letter signed by the deputy head of Komnas HAM, M. Ridha Saleh, which is a follow-up of the complaint made by the chairman f the Regional Traditional Council (DAD) in Paniai several days ago. He said that the complaint was made because of two recent incidents involving members of the police force. One was shooting in the vicinity of the copper-and-gold mine in Degheuwo which led to the death of a civilian and the other relates to the situation following the dispatch of 150 additional Brimob troops who arrived in Enarotali on 11-14 November 2011. In the second place, the Brimob post which was set up in the midst of several kampungs. should be removed. Thirdly, to immediately conduct an investigation into what caused the death of Mateus Tenouye. Fourthly, to restore a conducive situation so as to enable the people in the district of Paniai to go about their daily activities. And fifthly, to speedily hold dialogue with all parties involved in conflicts and to help the community to resolve problems that have occurred in the district of Paniai”.
Another article in the Jakarta Globe (22 December) reported that “The Australian government has confirmed that it is investigating reports that an Australian-owned mining company was involved in ongoing Indonesian military operations in Paniai, West Papua”. http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/australian-owned-miner-involved-in-papua-military-operations-report/486320
In the article the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (Elsham), reported that Densus 88 had been embedded with police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) units during operations against suspected members of the West Papua Liberation Army (TPN), based at Eduda, Paniai. (Note. Australia has been involved in helping train this unit, Detachment 88 or Densus 88).
Senator Richard Di Natale, the Greens’ spokesperson for West Papua, has called for urgent action in response to reports of conflict, deaths and displacement in the Paniai region of West Papua “Australia can no longer stand silent while West Papua burns,” said Senator Di Natale.
In other news Amnesty reported that People in over 80 countries in every region of the world have come together to demand the release of Indonesian prisoner of conscience Filep Karma, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for taking part in a peaceful http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/27446/?mid=5533
A reply from AusAid to AWPA letter re food shortage at http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com/ and reply from DFAT re concerns around 1st December at http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com/2012/01/reply-from-ausaid-to-awpa-letter-re.html
News in brief
Maternal deaths in West Papua remain high: Health agency
The Jakarta Post | /11/2011
The number of maternal deaths in West Papua is still high due to inadequate health facilities and medical personnel in the region, the local health agency has said.
Papua Health Agency official Victor Nugraha said on Sunday that in 2010, 50 woman died during pregnancy. He predicted that the figure would be about the same in 2011, but that the actual number could be double that figure. “The number is probably less than the real figure, because many cases remain unrecorded due to a shortage of medical personnel,” he said in Manokwari, Papua, as quoted by kompas.com.
Victor added that the main causes of maternal death were hemorrhage, post-pregnancy infections and hypertension. Hemorrhaging is caused by anemia due to an iron deficiency. Beside low iron levels due to poor nutrition, anemia can also be caused by malaria, which is common in Papua. Victor said late pregnancy checks and poor surgery facilities for caesareans in clinics also contributed to maternal deaths.
Hundreds afflicted with TB in Paniai
JUBI, 9 December 2011 .Abridged in translation by TAPOL
Poor homes and an unfavourable environment are the cause for many people being afflicted with TB in Paniai. Medicines have been distributed but they are not taken regularly by the patients. The head of the Contagious Diseases Unit of the Health Department in Paniai said: 'According to our data, from January to November 2011, 104 people are suffering from TB. The number of cases continues to rise because patients who have been supplied with medication do not take their medication regularly.' He said that quite a few of the patients have given up even though they have been supplied with medicines and as a result, instead of getting better, their condition deteriorates. TB sufferers are highly susceptible to HIV infection. 'We urge patients to take their medication regularly because, once their TB is cured, they are less likely to be affected by the HIV virus.' He said many peopl prefer to use alternative remedies, . 'They prefer traditional remedies but this cannot ensure full recovery. The traditional medicines have not been tested clinically for their ability to cure.' Wahab also said that a factory will be built in 2012 and it is hoped that by 2014, the crop will have been harvested and we are able to produce red sugar, . 'This is the target for the company and it must be realised,' he said.
Papua hospital requires all patients to undergo HIV/AIDS test
Thu, January 5 2012
Sentani, Papua (ANTARA News) - Yowari General Hospital in Jayapura district requires all its patients to undergo a HIV/AIDS test, the hospital`s director, Nikodemus Barens, said here Thursday. He said, in view of the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in Papua, the hospital was continuously disseminating information on HIV/AIDS among its patients. "We ask every patient who comes for treatment to undergo a HIV/AIDS check, especially when they are pregnant women," he said.
RNZI December, 2011
The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation has announced the establishment of the West Papua Decolonisation Committee. The coalition says the Committee will petition the United Nations Decolonisation Committee for the re-inscription of West Papua in order for it to be granted the due process of decolonisation. Membership of the Committee will consist of the coalition’s leaders and dignitaries of Vanuatu including former Presidents and Prime Ministers. Membership would be open to people with relevant expertise from other countries. The coalition’s Vice Chairman, John Ondawame, says the establishment of the Committee is their response to the ongoing violence committed by Indonesian forces in Papua. Dr Ondawame says the violence has continued despite years of pleas by Papuans for peaceful dialogue. He has called upon the people of the Pacific and the International community to support the diplomatic effort.
Opinion pieces/reports/urgent actions etc.
"Birds of a feather: Conflict and unity with West Papua's independence movement",
Latest PhD thesis on West Papiua "Birds of a feather: Conflict and unity with West Papua's independence movement", by Cammi Webb-Gannon
online at University of Sydney thesis database:
Indonesia: The state of human rights in 2011 - The Decay of Pancasila and Contitutional Protections
In 2011, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has witnessed a deterioration of the human rights situation in Indonesia in terms of religious freedom, the role of the judiciary and accountability for violence by security forces. This report, which is based on the organisation’s documentation and monitoring work, shows that Indonesia remains heavily affected by serious human rights violations and shortcomings in the rule of law.
Papuan path to peace
Neles Tebay, 12/22/2011
Papua, under Indonesian rule since May 1, 1963, has been a land of conflict. It has to be transformed into a land of peace. For this transformation, a Papuan path to peace is urgently needed. Seeking to find a proper path to peace, we need to review all polices applied in Papua by the Indonesian government over the past 48 years……….
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja - Straits Times Indonesia | December 24, 2011
Mimika. Mimika's population is just 184,000 but it is one of the top three richest regencies in Indonesia. Millions in development funds from Jakarta have poured into it over the past decade. But as one drives into its capital Timika, a question comes to mind: Where did all the money go? The streets are punctured with potholes, while intersections do not have traffic lights. And where are the native Papuans? Shops and restaurants that line the main street are owned and operated by people from South Sulawesi, Java, West Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia. The indigenous Papuans, with their distinctive Melanesian features, are a rare sight in the town center. ………………….
Women and girls reduced to poverty by HIV/AIDS in Indonesia
Dec 19, 2011
Although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is much lower in Asia than in some other regions, women and children in Indonesia are facing a growing threat from the disease.
Nationally, only around 0.2% of the population is infected. However, this represents a doubling in the numbers of people living with the disease in just a few years. In 2005, there were 170,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS in Indonesia; this had risen to 300,000 in 2009. Up until recently, most infections occurred in specific regions, such as Papua and West Papua, or among high-risk populations, such as sex workers, drug users and men having sex with men…………………………..
Don’t Demean Us, Papuan Church Leaders Tell SBY
Ismira Lutfia | December 19, 2011
In stark contrast to government figures who say Papuan unrest stems from a lack of prosperity among native inhabitants, senior Papuan church figures say the real problem is a history of injustice and the island’s problematic integration into Indonesia. “The problems in Papua are not to do with wealth, but respect for human dignity, justice and an unclear history of integration that is still disputed,” Rev. Socratez Sofyan Yoman, the head of Papua’s Baptist church, said in a press conference on Saturday in Jakarta. The press conference followed a private meeting a day earlier between four church figures, three of them Papuan, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the national leader’s private residence in Cikeas, Bogor……………………………………..
Amnesty: RI political prisoners internationally unacceptable
The Jakarta Post | 12/10/2011
Humans, regardless of their social, economic and ethnic background, hold in high esteem justice, dignity and freedom from persecution, and Papuans, who have faced decades of rights violations, are no exception. Such was the story Amnesty International Asia-Pacific program director Sam Zarifi told during a recent interview with The Jakarta Post’s Mariel Grazella. Sam was visiting Jakarta to discuss human rights in Papua with Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto……………….
Papua And The Tensions Within – Analysis
Written by: IPCS December 15, 2011 By Tri Susdinarjanti
For the last 6 months, concern over security has been rising in Papua – eastern part of Indonesia due to several accidents in the area. Instances of shootings and violence have occurred in Abepura, Jayapura, in Mulia District, Puncak Jaya, and Freeport area in the district of Timika. These started with a mass protest on 18 June 2011 and continued till 19 October 2011, when the Papuan People Congress was being conducted; consequently the Police attacked the masses. 3 civilians reportedly died during the attack……………..
Development activities which fail to involve women distorts the relationship between men and women and it furthermore is damaging to the development process itself. The position of women in Papua, both in the highlands interior and in coastal areas, is still very difficult because of gender discrimination and cultural biases that weaken the role of women. The deputy chair of the MRP, Angelbertha Kotorok said that women have made many efforts to put an end to this situation. Although conditions vary in different parts of Papua, it can be said that in general women face discrimination as the result of traditions and cultural circumstances. In Mimika where the giant Freeport copper-and-gold mine is located, women are the ones who work the hardest for their families' livelihoods. Most women spend time panning for gold in the river tributaries, but the water of these rivers is contaminated by poison, which means that panning for gold is very damaging to their health. Women themselves are unaware of this damage which affects there reproductive organs. To remain in the water for many hours at a time is very damaging and has resulted in a fall in the birth rate in the central highlands. Although this problem has not been studied scientifically, local surveys confirm that this is true.
'Women and young girls spend a great deal of time panning for gold and are unaware of the effect on their reproductive health,' she said.
Besides serving their husbands sexual needs, the women must walk long distances with their noken (string bags) in which they carry their children while tending their gardens, looking after pigs and other animals, as well as panning for gold. The location of their gardens has been damaged because of the spread of tailings which affect the food produced on this land. Besides the daily work in their gardens and the panning for gold, women have to face violence from their husbands, as well as acts of violence from members of the security forces. In other words, they face violence from many quarters. They also face pressure from the security forces who demand from them money earned from panning gold. And moreover, they are forced to sell the results of their gold panning to members of the security forces for a very low price. And now with so much of the land in Mimika occupied by Freeport, food has become very expensive indeed.
'Should the women remain silent in face of all this?' asked Angelberrtha . 'Certainly not, I say. They must rise up and reject all the discrimination which they confront.' Speaking to Bintang Papua, she said that the women are beginning to rise up against their position as second-class citizens and to put an end to the chain of violence which they experience.and regain equality with men. These efforts to restore women's equality with men have already begun with the support of NGOs which have been active in the area since 1998 and this is bringing an improvement in the lives of the women. 'Whereas in the old days, the women remained silent in face of the violence that threatens their lives, they now have information and support and have become more determined to defend their basic rights and to report all cases of discrimination which they experience which reduces their social position within the family and in the broader community.' She said that a number of groups have been set up to support the women while admitting that not all these groups are working as effectively as they should.