Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1) PAPUA NEW GUINEA: No relief for flood-affected refugees


1) PAPUA NEW GUINEA: No relief for flood-affected refugees
2) Forkrorus calls for two flags to be flown side by side
3) Security forces urged not to resort to violence on the anniversary of KRP-III
4) Plans to commomorate the death of Theys Eluay in November


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http://www.irinnews.org/Report/96567/PAPUA-NEW-GUINEA-No-relief-for-flood-affected-refugees


IRIN humanitarian news and analysis
a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


1) PAPUA NEW GUINEA: No relief for flood-affected refugees

Ok Tedi's mine
BANGKOK, 17 October 2012 (IRIN) - Environmental damage caused by copper mining in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has affected thousands of refugees from the neighbouring Indonesian province of West Papua who have not received any support from PNG or the mining company, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and NGOs. 

“Some of the border settlements of West Papuan refugees have become severely affected by flooding associated with sediment build-up in the rivers due to the Ok Tedi mine,” said Ben Farrell, a regional UNHCR spokesperson, referring to a mine that has operated in PNG’s western provinces since 1984. 

The western half of New Guinea Island, West Papua, is an Indonesian province where separatists have fought for independence for decades. The 1984 Indonesian government crackdown on the Free Papua Movement of West Papuan separatists led to thousands of West Papuans fleeing to neighbouring PNG. 

At least 1,500 West Papuan refugees hosted by PNG along Fly river - the second longest river running through the half-island nation’s western provinces - have been affected by ongoing mine-induced flood damage, according to Wren Chadwick, the former advocacy and information officer for Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) based in the capital, Port Moresby. 

Flooding has destroyed food gardens and sago palms, the traditional food staple, “forcing people into the jungle to wait out the floods so they can access food sources,” said Chadwick. 

In a 2009 JRS assessment, more than 3,200 refugees living along the river cited pollution from the mines as the main obstacle to growing food. 

“Die-back” sludgeThe Ok Tedi mine dumps roughly 90 million tons of waste into the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers annually, according to the company’s environmental assessments. Mine sediment causes river beds to rise, forcing mine-contaminated water onto surrounding fields where it has killed up to 3,000sqkm of vegetation in a phenomenon known as “die-back”.  

“In PNG mines have polluted rivers, damaged agricultural land and displaced communities from their homes and farmland,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, Human Rights Watch's senior researcher on extractive industries based in New York. 

The Ok Tedi mine contributes to roughly 18 percent of the country's annual GDP, according to a 2012 World Bank report

Compensation, but not for refugees 
While Ok Tedi mine has paid out nearly US$980 million to affected communities, West Papuan refugees do not qualify because they are living outside the area designated for them under amendments made to the 1987 Migration Act which restricts them to East Awin camp, 6,000 hectares in the country’s northeast. 

Relocation plans are under way for local communities, but refugees living alongside those communities are not included, according to UNHCR. 

“West Papuan refugees without Permissive Residence Permits and [other] non-Melanesian asylum seekers and refugees have no access to documentation or some basic rights such as access to the labour market,” said Farrell. 

Refugees continue to live along the rivers due to kinship ties, despite the lack of working papers in a place where even subsistence farming for survival requires documents. 

As of 2010 there were some 9,700 West Papuan refugees in PNG, of whom nearly 2,300 were in the designated East Awin area, 5,000 in border areas and some 2,400 in cities.  

The 1996 Limited Integration Policy for West Papuan refugees stipulated that only refugees who have lived in East Awin for at least six months can get Permissive Residency Permits, which entitle them to freedom of movement, the right to work, and access to health services and education. 

Those who decline relocation to camps in East Awin bear the impact of flooding without assistance as well as “run-down shelters, lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities, and lack of security of land tenure and the threat of forced eviction,” according to UNHCR's Farrell. 

“The biggest issue is lack of a national refugee policy that realistically deals with refugees who refuse to move to East Awin,” Chadwick said. 

An official with the government-funded think-tank Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council Secretariat, which has helped draft national refugee policy, said no refugees should be refused humanitarian assistance. 

dm/pt/cb
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From Tapol
2) Forkrorus calls for two flags to be flown side by side
JUBI, 15 October 2012

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the declaration of the Federal Republic of West Papua, the President, Forkorus Yaboisembut has sent a letter to the President of the Republic of Indonesia calling on him to take a step of guidance towards the restoration of the Federation in accordance with the determination declared at  the IIIrd Papuan People's Congress.

'We will peacefully report this and also seek support as we celebrate the first anniversary of Papuan independence with the Federal Republic of  West Papua, which will take place on 19 October this year' said the President. which was the first point in his letter to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, copies of which were handed out to journalists during a press conference.

The second point he made was  to compile material for negotiation which would include an act of recognition of the Federal Republic of West Papua. 'We willconvey the conditions for dialogue between the Papuan people and the Republic of Indonesia, for recognition and the transfer of administrative powers from the Republic of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of West Papua.'

He said that the Indonesian government should convey its willingness to hold peaceful negotiations by unfurling the Morning Star flag alongside the red-and-white flag of Indonesia. 'The two flags should be flown alongside each other as from 19 October 2012 at seven places,' he said.

In addition to making these points, Forkorus invited a representative of the Indonesian government to attend the celebration of the first anniversary of the declaration of the Federal Republic of West Papua on 19 October.

He also proposed that pre-negotiations and negotiations should occur from August 2012 (sic) until 1 May 2013, bringing to an end the annexation of West Papua.'

[Translated by TAPOL]
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3) Security forces urged not to resort to violence on the anniversary of KRP-III
Bintang Papua, 16 October 2012

The plan by a group of people to commemorate the events that occurred last year at the time of the Third Papuan People's Congress (KRP III)  when several people lost their lives has been described by the Papuan Provincal Legislative Assembly (DPR Papua) as a legitimate expression of Papuan concerns. It called on the security forces to refrain from again resorting to violence on this occasion.

'It is quite legitimate for Papuans to commemorate the KRP-III within the framework of our system of democracy. Every citizen has the right to give expression to their aspirations, as long as they do so by lawful means,' said Ruben Magai, chairman of Commission A of the DRP Papua.' He was speaking in response to questions from the press.

He said that the security forces should not  resort to the use of violence in dealing with the aspirations of the people. 'Dont keep using violence  because this only traumatises the Papuan people. In any system of democracy, it is quite natural for people to give expression to their aspirations.'

He said that KRP III was now part of Papua's history which means that commemorating the event is quite legitimate.

He went on to say that  the government in Papua is behaving undemocratically in many ways. Activists are facing a lot of intimidation. 'If it continues to ignore democratic principles, the problem of Papua will never be solved.'

He said that the way to resolve the problem is to enter into dialogue. 'It is only through dialogue that this problem should be handled. The use of violence will only attract the attention of the international community and will deeply wound the feelings of the Papuan people.'

He said in addition that if greater pressure is exerted against Papuan people, they will make their voices heard loud and clear. The more that pressure is used, the louder they will shout.' he said.

He also said that the special autonomy law for Papua (OTSUS) adopted eleven years ago has proved worthless because it has failed to protect the interests of the Papuan people. 'OTSUS means nothing any more because it has failed to protect the  interests of the Papuan people. An example was the way the governor was chosen.  This problem has now been returned to the KPU - election commission. which means that there is nothing special at all about OTSUS.

Translated by Tapol
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4) Plans to commomorate the death of Theys Eluay in November
JUBI, 16 October, 2012

It was ten years ago [actually eleven years ago]  when Megawati Sukarnoputri was the president of Indonesia, that the Papuan leader, Theys Hiyo Eluay was murdered on 10 November 2001. Theys was kidnapped and murdered because he was regarded as a danger to Indonesia's territorial integrity.

However, the Papuan people regard Theys Eluay as a Papuan leader who was able to  unite all Papuans from Sorong to Merauke. He was also a man who called upon people to treat Papuans with decency and respect.

This is why Papuans have decided to commemorate the death of Theys Eluay.

'We are shortly planning to mark the anniversary of the death of this great Papuan leader,' said Thomas Syufi, president of the Militant Papuans Students Federation.
'He was a Papuan leader who struggled for his people to be treated with decency and respect.  He did not resort to violence but the Megawati government regarded him as a threat.

He went on to say in a press conference in Jayapura, that there has been no justice yet for the death of Theys Eluay.  'The senior army officer who had been involved in the death was allowed to go free. [A few low-ranking Kopasus officers involved in the abduction were given short sentences which they almost certainly never served.] 'That is why we regard Theys Eluay as a martyr ,' the students said.

[The facts about Theys' death are as follows: Shortly before his death he had been elected the chairman of the Papuan  Presidium Council. He was tricked into meeting some members of the army's elite corps Kopassus on 10 November 2001, kidnapped and driven to an unknown destination. On the following day, his body was discovered in Skouw, a Papuan village near the border with PNG, more than 50 kms from where he had been abducted. He appeared to have been strangled to death; an autopsy concluded that he had died of suffocation. See Tapol Bulletin, December 2001/February 2002.]

The call made at the time by Human Rights Watch for an impartial inquiry into what was seen as a 'well-planned assassination' was never  responded to by the authorities.]

To mark the forthcoming anniversary of his death, Papuans were called on to gather at the grave of Theys. The government, the military and NGOs were called on not to raise banners at the grave, 'out of respect for the fallen leader'.

Plans to move the body have been rejected by Papuans. The anniversary of his death will be marked by prayers  and other activities that have not yet been revealed.

[Translated by Tapol]

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