Wednesday, July 11, 2012

1) What Is Indonesia Trying to Hide in West Papua?

1) What Is Indonesia Trying to Hide in West Papua?

2) View Point: Old (military) habits die hard

3) WPNA demnstration will call for greater concern from the government
4) New supermarket in Jayapura triggers complaints about goods on offer and price differentials

5) Armored vehicle overturns in Timika, one dead


1) What Is Indonesia Trying to Hide in West Papua?

Posted: 07/11/2012 3:56 pm

Written by Eben Kirksey
West Papua is one of the most difficult places to access on the planet. Still a steady trickle of adventurous travelers is being drawn there by images of highlanders wearing penis sheaths and birds of paradise. In the words of Lonely Planet this place has a mystique that "piques the imagination of the explorer... The diversity in lifestyle and culture of the indigenous people, who speak more than 250 languages, is matched only by [the area's] biodiversity and geography." Part of this mystique has been created by the Indonesian government. According to the website of their embassy in Washington D.C., West Papua is one of the "regions in Indonesia that the foreign national is not allowed to visit without special written permission and approval... Visitors who enter these restricted regions without permission are subject to arrest, detention, and will be prosecuted according to Indonesian law."
A man in a penis sheath from West Papua's highlands (Photograph: Eben Kirksey)

It took me years of writing letters and making repeat visits to the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, before my application to be an undergraduate exchange student was approved in 1998. Weeks after receiving a much-coveted visa stamp, I found myself in the middle of a peaceful demonstration on the streets of West Papua. I stumbled upon an event that government officials tried to hide. Fourteen years ago today -- on July 6th, 1998 -- I was a bystander at a massacre.
The protest was led by Filep Karma, a Papuan leader who wants independence from Indonesia. As the attack started, Karma roused his followers, all unarmed civilians, with a hymn. They held hands, sitting in a circle, under a water tower where their outlawed banner, the Morning Star flag, flew. During the initial assault by Indonesian police, military, and navy forces, Karma was shot twice -- once in each leg -- but he survived the incident. Many of his followers were not so fortunate and were killed instantly. A truck came to cart away the bodies of the dead and dying. "I counted fifteen people in the first load," one eyewitness told me. "The truck came a second time and I counted seventeen people inside. When they opened up the truck bed I could see lots of blood, in that small truck there was lots of blood," [Quoted from Kirksey,Freedom in Entangled Worlds, 49-50]. Human rights investigators could not determine what happened to the dead and wounded people who were transported in this truck. Filep Karma, who is now an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, told me about how to find one mass grave. But, forensic archaeologists have not yet visited this site.

Filep Karma (Photograph by Eben Kirksey)

At the time I was hiding in Hotel Irian, a colonial era building, and I heard gun shots as security forces killed people. From my hotel window I saw Navy ships docked out in the harbor. Survivors of the initial assault were loaded onto these ships, taken out to open ocean, and dumped overboard to drown. One group investigating the incident concluded that "one hundred thirty-nine people were loaded on two frigates that headed in two directions to the east and to the west and these people were dropped into the sea," [Quoted in Kirksey, Freedom in Entangled Worlds, 48]. At least 32 decaying bodies later washed ashore. Elsham, an indigenous human rights organization, produced a 69-page report in Indonesian about the massacre titled "Names Without Graves, Graves Without Names." The report called for an international investigation, but no one has since followed up.
Indonesian officials routinely stymie human rights research in West Papua. Amnesty International researchers were expelled from West Papua in 2002 while investigating a separate massacre. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions formally asked to visit West Papua in 1994. This request was denied. In 2004 the government also rejected the Rapporteur's follow-up request to visit Indonesia. Even the International Committee for the Red Cross, a moderate organization that is renowned for negotiating access to wartorn regions, has been banned.
Rather than wait in vain for help from the outside, help which might never arrive, many Papuans are doing the work of human rights themselves. Indigenous activists used the Internet to circulate a video in 2010that showed the brutal torture and murder of a highland villager. Last November, when thousands of West Papuans came together to declare independence in a peaceful Congress, local human rights researchers used their cell phones to give real-time updates and send video footage abroad. Brave action on the ground by these activists helped prevent a massacre on the scale that I witnessed in 1998. Last November, Indonesian authorities knew that influential international leaders were watching from afar.
Killings in West Papua have lately become more frequent, mysterious, and arbitrary. In a string of shootings that has seemed to baffle regional government officials and investigators, at least 19 people have been killed in recent weeks. [Read accounts from the Jakarta Post on 7/2/127/3/12 and 7/5/12.] Many more, including a German tourist, have sustained bullet wounds. One Papuan leader, Mako Tabuni, held a press conference on June 13th where he publicly asked the police to get to the bottom of the shootings. "Only one local media outlet,, dared to report on this press conference," according to aFacebook update by Octovianus Mote, a Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School who hails from West Papua's highlands. "Probably Mako didn't get a chance to read the news story," the Facebook post continues, "because it was published the same morning that uniformed police officers came to his house and killed him."

Mako Tabuni (Photograph: Facebook)

"The killing of Mr. Tabuni is a clear violation of international human rights law principles," wrote Franciscans International in a formal allegation to the United Nations last month. "This is a clear example of a targeted killing." As international organizations call attention to ongoing abuses, access to the region has become even more difficult. The Indonesian government recently requested that Scott Marciel, the Ambassador of the United States, reschedule a planned trip to West Papua. In response to my query about this aborted trip a U.S. State Department Spokesperson said:
Ambassador Marciel was not able to immediately reschedule his visit... [and] is committed to rescheduling his travel to Papua as soon as feasible. Limitations on access to Papua by foreign government officials, NGO personnel and journalists feed suspicions in the international community about government actions in those areas. We encourage the Indonesian government to take this into consideration when reviewing travel requests. The U.S. government condemns the recent violence in Papua and urges the Indonesian government to conduct full and transparent investigations into the incidents and allegations of excessive force on the part of the security forces.
Spectacular violence by Indonesia's security forces has long been hidden in West Papua. But, the old tactics of terror are no longer working. Smartphones and social media are allowing savvy indigenous leaders to reach out to allies abroad and to spread audacious hopes amongst their countrymen at home.
While travel guides intent on piquing the imagination of explorers are still painting pictures of Papuans with an exotic brush, indigenous activists are quietly formulating their own imaginative dreams. Papuans are picturing sweeping changes on future horizons. They are imagining an end to the current military occupation, a new era of justice and freedom. Watching recent developments from afar, I have started to expect the unexpected. Intrepid travelers who are willing to put up with months of bureaucratic tedium, or who dare to defy unjust visa policies, certainly stand a chance of learning about surprising indigenous visions.
Eben Kirksey earned his Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa Cruz and is currently a Mellon Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. His first book, Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power, was published in April 2012 by Duke University Press.

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2) View Point: Old (military) habits die hard

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“The only constant thing in life is change,” they say. Really? Looking at the so-called “Arab Spring” and recent events in Egypt, you could have fooled me.

When Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was sworn in as president in June, thousands flocked to Tahrir Square to celebrate. Waving Egyptian flags, they chanted “God is great” and “Down with military rule”.

Who can blame them? After 60 years of authoritarian military rule, anybody would be ready for a change. Since Egypt became a republic in 1953, it’s been a struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and a secular, nationalist military-backed government.

For decades, the Muslim Brothers led armed attempts to overthrow that government. They tried to assassinate president Nasser, killed president Anwar Sadat in 1981 and had a go at Mubarak too, but it didn’t get them anywhere.

Now, after being outlawed and systematically repressed for decades, a Muslim Brotherhood man is voted in, fair and square. Yippee, time to sing Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” song!

Not so fast guys.

Yes, Mursi has been elected president of Egypt. But does he hold the reins of power? The Egyptians elected a new legislature, but the Constitutional Court declared it invalid and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) stepped in instead.

They also took away the president’s authority as supreme commander of the armed forces. This means that Mursi can’t pass laws unless the army agrees and he can’t instruct the army to do anything.

So Mursi is the president of nothing much, really. He’s been elected, sure — sworn in too — but what power does he have? And if things go wrong, he will be the fall guy. Very convenient — for the military that is. Mursi or no Mursi, for all intents and purposes Egypt is not much more than a military junta — unless Mursi confronts them by recalling the legislature, as he is now threatening to do.

What if thousands return to Tahrir Square to protest? That may not worry the generals too much. They know history has made the Muslim Brotherhood very cautious. It will be reluctant to tackle the army head-on, because that would provide the soldiers with an excuse to marginalize or even annihilate them. Sans Mubarak, the old patterns are basically intact.

Having been brought up under 32 years of Soeharto’s authoritarian military rule (1966-1998), I couldn’t help making comparisons with Indonesia. Here it took 12 years for democratization to slow to a stop (and stop it did, two years ago). In Egypt, it happened in the blink of an eye – almost as soon as it started.

But is Indonesia now going to do an Egypt and return to military rule? Well, Prabowo Subianto is ahead in the polls for the 2014 presidential election. As the former Special Forces commander, he was a prominent figure in the Indonesian Military. He is also a self-confessed human rights offender who was denied a visa to the US for contravening the UN Convention against Torture.

Like Egypt — and our regional neighbor Thailand — there is a historical pattern of military intervention in this country. Yes, Indonesia has become more complex now, and an army probably couldn’t manage it easily any more.

But if people believe that democracy is failing, that could create an opening — think about Germany after World War I, when president Paul von Hindenburg appointed Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as chancellor.

Recently, Indonesia made it to the threshold of the Failed State Index. We all know Indonesia isn’t really a failed state — the economy is growing and the state system is intact. So what created this perception of failure?

First, there’s a leadership crisis. People joke that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s initials, SBY, now stand for suka bengong ya (going blank). Because he leads a minority government, he’s often politically paralyzed.

And among the current crop of presidential candidates there is no one the people really like — even Prabowo only has support from less than 11 percent of voters, with the other candidates way behind him (see “Mega, Prabowo, Bakrie all bottom out in new survey”, The Jakarta Post, July 9).

Second, the House of Representatives (DPR) is a disaster because of rampant corruption, which points to a failure of the system. It brings people into power indebted by campaign costs, and puts at their disposal the means to get money, waiting for bribes to pass laws.

This means DPR members attack the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and other reform organizations because they feel threatened.

So they end up becoming opponents of reform, which is what is happening to SBY’s imploding Democratic Party (PD) too. In fact, the PD is a good metaphor for the legislature as a whole – both are beset by corruption and have lost public confidence.

When political change takes place, people assume rapid democratization will follow. In fact, it is very difficult to do well and harder to keep intact. In the Philippines, it unraveled after Cory Aquino (1986-1992), while in Thailand it fell apart with Thaksin Shinawatra (2001-2006). And Egypt? Well, it hasn’t even got past “Go” in its reform process.

Indonesia needs to watch out too. How much of what reformasi achieved will hold? Egypt is a lesson for Indonesia that democracy is fragile, very vulnerable and liable to vanish when your back is turned.

I think the saying that’s more appropriate for Egypt is “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Let’s hope that doesn’t apply to Indonesia as well.

The writer ( is the author of Jihad Julia.

from Tapol
3) WPNA demnstration will call for greater concern from the government
Tabloid JUBI, 9July 2012

Jayapura: The aspirations of the Papuan people for Papua to become a zone of peace are becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.Imprisonment, killings, corruption, terror and acts of intimidation against the civilian population are now occurring in  Papua but no one knows who will take responsibility for all these things.

In response to this situation, the West Papua National Authority (WPNA) and other pro peace and anti violence organisations decided to organise a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday this week, calling on the Indonesian government and the Papuan  people to spare no efforts in resolving the conflict in Papua and to seek a solution as quickly as possible in the interests of peace, justice and order for the Papuan people and the Indonesian people now living in the Land of Papua.

'All of us who feel these concerns  should join together in a peaceful demonstration to mourn he current situation. When will there be pease in Papua,' said one leaflet that has been distributed widely in Jayapura.

The co-ordinator of the demonstration Sius Ayemi said that they would organise the demonstration under the slogan: 'Papua Mourns'.on Tuesday, 10 July from 9am until late in the afternoon.They will not allow people in the demonstration to bring alcohol or  sharp implements which could lead to anarchy. and disorder.

One of the leaflets says:  'Dont just think about us or our organisation but ask yourselves  when will there be peace in Papua?'

[Translated by TAPOL]

4) New supermarket in Jayapura triggers complaints about goods on offer and price differentials
Bintang Papua, 9 and 10 July 2012

[Comment: This report reveals the continuing tendency to promote businesses from outside Papua while failing to advance the interests of local Papuan producers. TAPOL]

Many complaints about price differentials at newly open supermarket in Jayapura

Although the supermarket  Hypermart Jayapura has only recently open its doors to the general public, many people who have purchased goods have complained that there has been a huge differential  between the prices marked on the shelves and the prices of the goods when they reach the cashier to pay for their purchases. As a result people who have been shopping at the new store are being advised to take care about their purchases to avoid losing a lot of money.

One shopper who spoke to Bintang Papua said  that she was charged at the cashier for something costing Rp 91,000 although she hadn't even purchased the product. Other shoppers made similar complaints. In once instance, the shopper was charged  Rp. 105,000 for cooking  oil while the oil normally costs only Rp. 29,000. Other shoppers complained of striking differences in the prices they were charged.

In most cases, the shoppers were able to get refunds from the store after complaining. A store manager said that they would give refunds to anyone complaining about price differentials.

In a subsequent article, Bintang Papua reported that demands were being made by many people for the supermarket's licence to trade to be revoked, because the terms of the licence which had been agreed in Jakarta with the business had been violated.

Some people complained that many of the vegetables and fruit that were offered for sale had been imported from outside West Papua or even from abroad. Indigenous Papuans who were able to produce these products in large quantities had not been able to compete with the many products on offer at the store. Another complaint was that the store was selling alcohol

The Indonesian Consumers Association said that there was no need for foodstuffs to be imported from outside Papua or from abroad because they were readily available in the Land of Papua and would enable local producers to compete in the local market. Taking supplies from local producers would also help to improve the level of welfare of the Papuan people

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

5) Armored vehicle overturns in Timika, one dead

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Paper Edition | Page: 5
Chief Pvt. M. Taufik Bilak of the Timka Cavalry Detachment III was killed when the armored combat vehicle he was driving overturned at Mile 43 of the copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia (PT FI) in Timika, Papua, at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

The ill-fated vehicle was carrying six people, three soldiers including the driver and three civilians.

Spokesman of the Cenderawasih Military District Command Col. Ali Hamdan Bogra confirmed the incident, but had no detailed information as of Tuesday afternoon.

“There was an incident, but no details are available yet,” Ali Hamdan said.

M. Taufik died after being evacuated to the nearby Kuala Kencana clinic, while First Pvt. Arifin was tranferred from the clinic to Mitra Masyarakat Hospital having sustained fracture to his wrist. Second Pvt. Dimas was also slightly injured.

M. Taufik’s body will be flown to Situbondo, East Java, for burial.

“We’re still meeting. We’ll check the condition of others,” Ali Hamdan said.

Ali Hamdan said of the three civilians, who were employees of PT FI, Jonatan Mansawan sustained head injuries; Rudi Irianto slight injuries on his right temple and Achmad Saiful was injured on his head and face.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for PT Freeport Ramdani Sirait expressed condolences to the family of the dead soldier and also hoped for a speedy recuperation by those injured in the incident.

“PT FI expresses regret at the incident which caused one death and expresses condolences to the victim’s family members and hopes for the immediate recovery of those injured,” Ramdani said in an SMS message to The Jakarta Post.

Ramdani further said that the authorities had been on the location to investigate the cause of the incident with the full support and cooperation of PT FI.

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