Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1) MSG needs a new roadmap for the next 25 years

1) MSG needs a new roadmap for the next 25 years
2) Thousands of Traditional Gold Miners Protest in Timika
3) Further calls to remove Indonesia's MSG observer status
4) Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power


1) MSG needs a new roadmap for the next 25 years

From PACNEWS  Wed 20 Mar 2013
SUVA, Fiji ---- The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) needs a ‘roadmap’ to guide its work for the next 25 years and beyond.
“The MSG is young and growing, with opportunities galore, with new targets to aim for and new achievements to expect, said Kaliopate Tavola, one of the Eminent Person’s recruited by the sub-regional group to chart a new way forward for the MSG.
Tavola was amongst a selected group of experts from Melanesia invited to share their views on the future of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
He said the MSG should ‘open itself to new opportunities’ as it grapples with increasing challenges of globalisation and changing geopolitics in the region.
“One of the challenges is the label of ‘arc of instability’ which should be turned around as a means to aspire, borrowing from what Sir Michael Somare termed as an ‘arc of prosperity.’
For young Kanak and Radio Djiido journalist, Magalie Tingal, the MSG is their ‘arc of opportunity. She expressed the desires of her people to be integrated into the Pacific and with MSG.
“MSG is our future. Our culture and our identity is with Melanesia not in Europe, said Tingal.
Tavola, who will soon lead an Eminent Person Group to review the MSG, echoed the observation made by the PNG Grand Chief that if the MSG is to remain relevant, it should continue to push for the eventual independence for the Kanaks of New Caledonia and the similar struggles of the people of West Papua in Indonesia.
He agreed with the suggestion that the MSG open its membership, as suggested by Sir Michael Somare.
“The MSG should open itself to new issues, widening its Terms of Reference. It must have some degree of responsiveness to the interests expressed from those outside the organisation.
“The MSG is the only strongest, well advanced and unique sub-regional group. The region can only be strong if we have strong sub-regional groups like the MSG. Other regions have set up their groups like the Polynesian Leaders Group, the Small Island States and the Micronesians.
MSG Director General, Peter Forau assured the group is a ‘shoulder to lean on’ for issues that concern the membership. He was responding to questions on the push for independence for the indigenous people of New Caledonia.
“We are a regional and international voice for those who cannot speak for themselves’ said Forau, assuring that human rights abuses and push for independence for the people of West Papua is not forgotten by the MSG.
“For West Papua, the issue is a bit sensitive right now. But we continue to speak out against the situation there. Most recently, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea spoke out against the abuses in West Papua.
“We have some difficulties with West Papua because their issue is to re-enlist on the UN List of decolonised states. However, as a start we have received an application from one of their groups to join the MSG. This is following its normal process of approval before the Leaders will decide in June, said Forau.
The panel discussion at the University of the South Pacific on the topic ‘What does the MSG mean to you’ was organised by the Pacific International Relations Forum (PIRF). PIRF is an initiative by the students of the Diplomacy and International Relations Masters Programme to create public discussion on regional and international issues relevant to the Pacific region.
2) Thousands of Traditional Gold Miners Protest in Timika
Thursday, 21 March, 2013 | 00:05 WIB
TEMPO InteractiveTimika:A total 3,000 Javanese workers in Timika protested to demand conflict resolution for traditional gold miners at Freeport Indonesia’s tailing drainage area. The conflict between indigenous gold miners from Papua and non-indigenous gold miners from Java has occurred since Friday, March 15, and claimed six lives.

Fitron, a miner from Banyuwangi, died on Friday at Mile 34 area. Another resident, Baharudin, is in a critical condition at Mimika Regional Hospital. In addition to Fitron, other miners who were killed have been identified as: Atinus Mom, Rusli, Lamuru, Lasusah and Yoseph Warfian.

Yoseph’s body was found decayed and covered with wounds at Mile 31 West Dam. Yoseph’s death triggered the anger of certain social group in Timika. The miner from Tanimbar, according to his friend, Yansen, was probably attacked on Saturday, March 16. “He had descended [to Timika]. But after hearing about the riots, he went up again [to the mining site] on Saturday morning,” said Yansen.



3) Further calls to remove Indonesia's MSG observer status

Updated 20 March 2013, 10:04 AEST
Pressure is mounting for Indonesia to be stripped of its observer status at the next meeting of the Melenesian Sprearhead Group in July.
Vanuatu's Opposition Leader Edward Natapei says Indonesia's presence at the meeting flies in the face of what the MSG was set up to do, and that includes establishing an independent West Papua. It's a view that University of Queensland researcher Jason McLeod says is common in the Pacific. In a recent article he and collague Airi Ingram write: "In Solomon Islands, Kanaky (New Caledonia), Fiji and especially Vanuatu, people will tell you that 'Melanesia is not free until West Papua is free'."
Presenter: Richard Ewart
Jason McLeod, a researcher from the University of Queensland

4) Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power

Review by Ed McWilliams for ETAN

Edmund McWilliams is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who served as the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta 1996-1999. He received the American Foreign Service Association’s Christian Herter Award for creative dissent by a senior foreign service official. He is a member of the West Papua Advocacy Team and a consultant with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN).

Duke University Press, 2012, 305 pp., $25 paperback
Available from ETAN, order here.

There is perhaps no more remote struggle for human dignity and fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination, than that of the West Papuan people who for millennia have made their homes on what since 1963 been the Indonesian-controlled Western half of the island of New Guinea. The absence of significant international awareness of the Papuan struggle reflects in part its off-the-beaten path location. But the international community's general ignorance of the decades-long suffering of the Papuan people under Indonesian occupation largely derives from its successful efforts to hide its inhumane actions there. For decades Indonesia has imposed harsh restrictions on travel to West Papua by international journalists and human rights investigators. Indonesia closed the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2009 and is currently blocking a previously agreed visit by the UN's Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression. Indonesian governments for nearly 50 years have cleverly employed diplomatic leverage to keep the plight of the Papuans off the international agenda.

This is why Eben Kirksey's new book Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power is so important. Kirksey, a Professor at University of New South Wales in Sydney, skillfully employs his extensive travel within the area -- trips made despite Indonesian efforts to restrict his activities -- and his fluency in Bahasa Indonesian and working knowledge of several Papuan languages to present a richly detailed analysis based on innovative anthropological approaches. 

Kirksey explores the Papuan people's struggle for self-determination using a multiplicity of approaches. He looks carefully at Papuans collaboration with Indonesian state institutions, under conditions of military occupation and extreme power asymmetry. Not surprisingly, collaboration has often led to cooptation of the nearly powerless Papuans. Kirksey argues, however, that such collaboration, if imbued with "imagination embracing sweeping transformations on future horizons. Imaginative dreams [can] bring surprising prospects into view.... Clever engagement can bring specific goals within reach, even when collaborators do not share the same interests." He adds, "It is possible to maneuver for rights and justice in compromised situations."
Inevitably, powerful interests turn on their nearly powerless collaborators, abandoning commitments, and even murdering individuals who have outlived their usefulness. Moreover, years of collaboration, absent a clear and articulated vision of the future only undermines local leadership. Kirksey cites widely respected Papuan theologian and cultural anthropologist Dr. Benny Giay who condemns churches, the Indonesian government, and foreign corporations for fostering the notion that "the Messiah or others animated by a messianic spirit will usher in a better future." Giay told Kirksey, "West Papuans have been left in the waiting room, waiting for outsiders to bring peace, happiness and justice."

Even the lightly-armed Papuan resistance inevitably has fallen into relationships with Indonesian power brokers, notably including the security forces. The Indonesian military has long employed the purported threat of the armed resistance to extort both the central government and foreign corporations for funds to expand its presence in West Papua. This presence has facilitated extensive legal and illegal military (and national police) businesses that exploit West Papua's vast mineral, timber and other resources. Kirksey details how the military's interests used a purported security threat to intimidate then Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri during her visit to the region after which she and then President Gus Dur pursued antagonistic policies toward West Papua.

Perhaps the signature betrayal of the Papuan people was the failure of reformasi, the brief period of reform that swept across Indonesia after the overthrow of three-decade dictatorship of Suharto. However, Kirksey writes that it soon became clear that the "human rights abuses, corruption, nepotism, poor labor conditions and a host of other injustices" would continue at the direction of a reconstituted elite built around the Indonesian military. The disillusionment in West Papua was more severe as security forces launched targeted assassinations and "sweeping operations" that devastated the lives of ordinary Papuans, especially in rural areas.

Within a year of his taking office the military had abandoned President Gus Dur, the only Indonesian president to show sympathy for the West Papuans, in favor of the much more pliable and anti-Papuan Vice President Megawati. The government's betrayal of West Papua took concrete form in 2001 with "Special Autonomy" which purported to grant Papuans greater political autonomy and a share of the massive wealth extracted from their land. But the new revenues were instead absorbed by Indonesian-run administrative expansion and schemes aimed at ethnically cleansing Papua by introducing migrants from elsewhere in the archipelago.

The United States government, as Kirksey details, also betrayed the West Papuans (and America's commitment to justice) by siding with the Indonesian military in a complex 2002 case in which two American and an Indonesian teachers were murdered near the massive Freeport-McMoran copper and gold mining operation. Evidence developed by Kirksey and local human rights researchers (and surprisingly in the initial Indonesian police investigation) pointed strongly to a direct hand of Indonesian security forces in the killings. The U.S. FBI, after long delays imposed by Indonesian authorities, pursued an investigation that ignored the politically-inconvenient evidence of an Indonesian military role and settled on a theory that scapegoated the small Papuan armed resistance. This betrayal echoed the fundamental U.S. betrayal of the "New York Agreement," through which the U.S. government and the UN forced a turnover of Papua to rule by Jakarta in 1962.
Kirksey quotes Giay on the betrayal of the West (especially the U.S.): "There is a myth that Westerners will come to save the people of West Papua. We must throw out this myth. ... Look at America that sees itself as the teacher of democracy and human rights in the world -- still in remote areas [the U.S. firm] Freeport McMoran cultivates intimate relations with state security forces that are destroying the West Papuan people."

But Kirksey argues compellingly that on some occasions Papuans have successfully exploited the space separating the interests of their much more powerful corporate and government collaborators to advance Papuan goals. In 2000, Papuans drew on financial support from corporations to stage a massive congress which for a time appeared to bring unity and purpose to the Papuan struggle.

Ultimately, Kirksey expresses cautious hope: The emerging generation in West Papua has been "more careful in its coalition building," and it is "wrapping their freedom dreams around the architecture of the modern world system," he writes.

Kirksey's highly-analytical, richly-detailed account of the international, Indonesian and local power realities that underly the current Papuan People's struggle is groundbreaking. No sound understanding of that struggle is possible without this analysis.

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