Thursday, March 28, 2013

1) Papua’s politics, a case of ‘homo homini lupus’

1) Papua’s politics, a case of ‘homo homini lupus’
2) Separatists blamed for Papua’s chopper attack
3) Laboring mamas, chopped fingers
4) ‘Collective grief’ leads to dream of freedom


1) Papua’s politics, a case of ‘homo homini lupus’

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Papua continues to be plagued by violence. Last month gunmen shot at an army helicopter, as the military was to evacuate victims of an ambush which killed eight soldiers and four civilians. Activists say the solution lies in a mediated comprehensive dialogue, but the government rejects any attempt to revisit history. The Jakarta Post’s Prodita Sabarini reports on the political dynamics after a visit to Wamena in Jayawijaya regency.Going home: Soldiers carry the body of one of the victims of an ambush at Sentani airport, Feb. 24. Authorities said the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) attacked soldiers and civilians in Sinak in Puncak regency and Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya regency. Eight soldiers and four civilians died in the attack. (Antara/Anang Budiono)Going home: Soldiers carry the body of one of the victims of an ambush at Sentani airport, Feb. 24. Authorities said the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) attacked soldiers and civilians in Sinak in Puncak regency and Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya regency. Eight soldiers and four civilians died in the attack. (Antara/Anang Budiono)
Describing the violent political situation affecting his people, a young indigenous Papuan man quoted a Latin saying: Homo homini lupus.

“Man is a wolf to [his fellow] man,” said Demianus Wasage, 28, a Papuan from the Yali tribe. The provinces of Papua and West Papua are Indonesia’s part of New Guinea, a resource rich, bird-shaped archipelago north of Australia. The region has a history of social unrest and has been home to rampant military abuses since part of it officially became part of the country in the early 1960s. More than four decades later, and after being given special autonomy status, the provinces remain gripped in a spiral of violence, with external and internal discord permeating Papuan politics.

Demianus was born in a rural village in what is now Yalimo regency. He said that earlier generations still practiced cannibalism when he was growing up. He wore the koteka, Papua’s penis gourd, until he was in elementary school. He said he was glad that missionaries brought Catholicism to his village when he was growing up, so he did not have to follow the ancient practices he disagreed with.

He was proud of his traditional garb, which he sometimes used when accompanying foreign tourists in Papuan villages. “I’m not ashamed of wearing a koteka, I’m proud of my culture,” he said.

Many Papuans believe that their black skin and Melanesian culture distinguish them from the Malay majority in Indonesia. Academics say gradual preparations for Papuan independence by the Dutch in the 1950s also developed a Papuan sense of nationhood. But the US, eager to stave off Soviet influence in Indonesia, brokered a New York agreement between the Dutch and Indonesia in 1962 that officially transferred Papua to the control of the Indonesian government. What is widely believed to have been a sham of a referendum in 1969 stopped short of any chance of Papua being recognized as an independent territory by the United Nations. Demianus said that Papuans were not included in the negotiations that decided their fate. “Even until the end of time, Papuans will always want to be free,” he said.

In February this year, an attack by the Free Papua Movement’s (OPM) military wing, the Papua Liberation Army Front (TPN), killed eight Indonesian soldiers and four civilians in Puncak and Puncak Jaya regency, strongholds of the TPN, authorities said the attack was the latest incident in four-decades of sporadic fighting between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Papua’s rebels.

Human rights defender Theo Hesegem from the Justice and Human Rights Advocacy Network said that OPM personnel hiding in the jungle viewed the military and the police as their enemies.

“They [the Indonesian security forces] are armed and the OPM are armed too,” he said. “But [...] whether people passing by are soldiers, construction workers, or business people, as long as they have straight hair the OPM sees them as Indonesians and shoots at them,” he said.

According to Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Adriana Elisabeth, unlike the former Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which had a centralized command, the OPM is fragmented into several guerrilla groups and small organizations. The organization is heavily based on the tribal identities of the leader and members.

Yulianus Hisage, the Baliem area head of the Papuan Indigenous Council (DAP), an organization of customary and tribal leaders that advocates for indigenous rights and Papuan culture, said studies showed that Papua had around 250 ethnic tribes. “In reality there’s more than 300,” he said.

Relations between tribes in Papua were complex, Yulianus said, with conflicts settled through tribal warfare. In the Baliem Valley alone, in the mid highland region, a hotbed for OPM guerrillas, there are 14 tribal alliances.

In 2011, when the third Papuan People’s Congress was held, declaring Papua and West Papua independent from Indonesia, the congress appointed DAP leader Forkorus Yaboisembut as president. However, Lambertus Pekikir, an OPM/TPN leader in Keerom regency, Papua Province, did not acknowledge the congress. Forkorus is now imprisoned for treason and three people were killed during the authorities’ crackdown on the congress.

More moderate groups gathered under the Papua Peace Network (JDP) believe that dialogue is the key to peace in Papua. The LIPI’s Adriana said that for this to work, the Indonesian government should first halt its military approach to the provinces. Theo said international mediation was required to resolve the issue. “If it’s just Indonesia, the odds [for resolution] are slim. We’re talking about ideology. Indonesia wants a unified Indonesia, while Papuans want independence. The dispute would never end,” Theo said.

Amid a lack of cohesion in Papuan communities, the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), an independence campaign movement led by young Papuans, has emerged as a formidable component, with strong connections to the Papua independence movement overseas. Catholic priest and award-winning human rights activist John Jonga said the group was “Quite a brilliant movement”.

“They have a lot of creativity, they can gather people together and they are very firm in their stances. It’s clear they have overwhelmed the government — especially the military and the police — because their number is huge,” John said.

Melianus Wantik, a self-styled touring ambassador for the KNPB, said that the organization was born after seeing the Papuan independence movement lose its leader with the assassination of Theys H. Eluay, who was the leader of the Papua Presidium Council in November 2001.

“The KNPB was born because we saw that Papua needed a rational political leader. Not someone who is factional, egoistic and doesn’t stand with the grassroots,” he said.

In its heyday, the KNPB organized independence rallies across the Papua region, with thousands of people — many in traditional garb — taking part. Their grass roots campaign in 2011 was connected to the Free West Papua campaign led by British-based Papuan exile Benny Wenda, and the rallies coincided with an international conference of parliamentarians on Papuan independence.

“Our connection with Benny is very strong. We work based on his instructions with the International Parliament for West Papua and International Lawyers for West Papua,” Melianus said.

But since the killing of KNPB leader Mako Tabuni, the organization has adopted a low profile in rallies. In 2011, Papua was wrought with cases of violence that the police dubbed as being perpetrated by “unidentified assailants”.

A spate of killings in June and August 2011 saw more than 20 people killed. The police have linked the violence to the KNPB and have said they would use the 2003 Terrorism Law against those attacking police stations. However, Melianus said there was no evidence and the allegations were only aimed at discrediting the movement.

Human rights activists have criticized the police’s heavy-handed approach toward KNPB members. KNPB leader Victor Yeimo reported that in 2012, 22 KNPB members had been killed. Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian has defended the Terrorism Law in Papua by saying that it was required to ensure that criminals did not hide behind veneer of the freedom movement.

Benny recently toured Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific island countries to rally support for Papuan independence. But in Papua, the KNPB held no rallies. “We should have shown support because every time Benny visits these countries, we should go on the street and rally, but our room for democracy is blocked. The Indonesian government sees us as terrorists, [guilty of] treason and separatism. Our room for movement is shrinking,” Melianus said.

Catholic priest John said that in Jayapura, during Mako Tabuni’s leadership, the KNPB sometimes used intimidation so that people would join the rallies. “In Jayapura, they forced Papuans to follow them. Sometimes it involved beating people. Some journalists were not only intimidated but also beaten,” he said.

But John strongly doubted that the killings and bombings in Papua were linked to the KNPB. “They’re the ones who are getting shot at,” he said.

John, who has served in Papua for more than 25 years, said that Papuans wanted independence. “This spirit of independence is supported by social and economic problems, violence, violations of human rights and indigenous peoples rights, as well as the exploitation of resources. So in meetings, they express that,” he said.

The priest also spoke of another big problem plaguing the provinces — the corruption of local Papuan politicians. Since Papua received special autonomy (Otsus) status in 2001, only indigenous Papuans are eligible for regional head positions in the provinces.

The government has so far disbursed Rp 30 trillion (US$3.08 billion) in Otsus funds to West Papua and Papua provinces to speed up development. But more than a decade later, Papuans remain the poorest in Indonesia. The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) found that Otsus funds of Rp 66 billion in 2010 and Rp 211 billion in 2011 were unaccounted for.

According to John, pro-independence Papuans must also face their own political elites that are benefiting from their current positions as regional heads. “A small number of people will feel that their finances or positions are being threatened. If their main concern is their own welfare, then these people might even kill their own people,” he said.

John said that in Indonesia, people supported and opposed Papuan independence for various reasons. “But Papuans themselves say that whatever happens, be it famine or civil war, these are problems that can be dealt with later,” he said. “So, the future is full of question marks.”

2) Separatists blamed for Papua’s chopper attack

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The Papua Police reportedly has identified the gunmen who attacked a missionaries’ helicopter in Puncak Senyum, Puncak Jaya, Papua.

The Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter was manned by a German pilot and was on a flight to pick up two missionaries from Lumo village. There were no fatalities in the incident, but two bullet holes were found in the front window.

“Based on our investigation, the attackers fired from the hilly area in Puncak Senyum and the only people who live in the area are an armed group led by PW [Puron Wenda],’’ Papua Police Chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian told reporters on Thursday.

Puron Wenda was allegedly involved in a number of attacks against civilians and police officers in the Puncak Jaya area. It is believed that he started his operations in 2010. The police, however, have yet to arrest any of the groups’ members.

3) Laboring mamas, chopped fingers

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A mama walks barefoot under the skin-burning sun in a hamlet in Piramid district, Jayawijaya regency. With their traditional woven bags (noken) dangling from their heads, Papuan women, lovingly called mama-mama, dig into the earth to harvest sweet potatoes.

Orina, 30, is one of the mama-mama. Last week was harvest time in her village, Yonggime. Carrying her 3-year-old-son Samuel to the field on her shoulder, she steadies the weight of her noken on her head.

“It’s hard work,” she says. “We sweat a lot and we dig using shovels,” she said. The shovels that the women use are made from thin long metal with flat tips. Most tiring, she said, was that they had to carry their noken and their babies or toddlers with them to the field. Sometimes women carry three bags on their head, one for their offspring and the others for collecting the harvest.

The bulk of the work on farms in Papua falls to women. Most indigenous Papuans in the mountainous highlands such as in Jayawijaya regency live from farming. Families grow sweet potatoes for their daily meals, as well as for their pigs. The rest, they sell in the markets. Women are usually the ones who travel to the markets carrying heavy loads on their heads. The sweet potatoes, or hipere in the local language, can grow as big as a newborn baby, weighing around 5 to 10 kilograms each.

“Men open the fields, build the fences and dig irrigation channels, but that’s it. The people who tend the fields, plant and toil, harvest and feed the cattle, are the women,” Patricio Wetipo from the organization, Humi Inane (Women’s Voice) Foundation, said in Wamena recently.

In Indonesia’s easternmost province, indigenous women are marginalized and often become victims of violence both from outside and inside their communities. The security approach in the restive province has seen many women suffer sexual violence at the hands of Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel, as documented in a 2009 study by the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan).

Women are also second to men within their communities. Besides having a heavier workload, they were not included in decision-making in tribal communities, Patricio said. Polygamy and adultery was rife, he added, and with Papua being the Indonesian province with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS, a lot of women contract the virus from their husbands. Patricio said that his organization had documented 370 reports of violence against women in Jayawijaya alone.

One can see the stark difference between men and women with the grieving customs of communities in the central mountains. Women in those tribes cut off the phalange of a finger as a sign of grief when a member of their family passes a way. The men, meanwhile, make only a tiny slice in the tip of their ears. The government has banned this particular practice, but one can still see many women with short, stumpy fingers, including younger women.

But conditions for women are changing — albeit slowly; development programs that incorporate gender equality are opening up access for women to become community leaders.

In Wamena, Sarlota Itlay, 42, stands out as the head of a farmers’ group in Musaima village, a position that she’s proud to hold. The single mother of four describes her position as “one that’s rare in Papuan custom”. When development NGO Oxfam started a Papua Enterprise Development Program (PEDP) in Wamena in 2009, the single mother joined the group of 55 farmers that opened 10 hectares for sweet potato cultivation.

She was the only woman that spoke a lot during discussions with Oxfam and the Independent Business Foundation (Yapum), Oxfam’s local partner, she said. In 2010, she was appointed head of the farmers’ group. Her leadership caught the eye of the local Hubikiak district administration and she was appointed as the village secretary, giving her a role in the day-to-day administrative affairs.

Rio Pangemanan, Oxfam’s PEDP manager, said that when devising programs to support entrepreneurship within indigenous Papuan communities, they ensure that women’s ideas and roles are clear. They separate discussions between women, men and community leaders to ensure that women’s aspirations are heard before planning the program.

Patricio also uses this technique in his awareness-raising campaigns.

“We talk with the women in the communities about women and men’s positions in customary law, whether there is violence or not and, if so, what forms of violence they experience,” he said. Patricio then talks with the men on the same topics. In the end, the men and women gather for a dialogue about women’s roles and violence against women in their community.

Change was slow, he said, but women were becoming more confident and courageous in expressing their objections about things they felt were unfair.

In Wamena, religious institutions are also playing a role in empowering women. In a Catholic boarding house for girls in Wamena, some 30 girls sit on a carpeted floor and discuss their rights as women. Led by Deacon John Jonga, a Catholic priest and human rights activist, the girls, who are in junior high and high school, shared their stories of how they felt having a lower status compared to their brothers. They also said they had to work harder on the farms during their school breaks compared with their brothers.

Deacon John had the girls laughing when he cracked a few jokes about how hard it must be for them having been born girls. But he was very serious when he asked them what they wanted when they grew up.

“Do you want to be the young wife of an old tribal leader?” he asked. “I know a woman who used her savings to pay the dowry for her husband’s new wife. Would you like that?” he asked. The girls giggled and shook their heads. Marcela Logo, 17, said that if her future husband treated her badly and had another woman, she would leave him.

“You are worth it, you’re equal to men, and you deserve to be free from violence,” Deacon John said. The girls’ eyes grew wider, and an optimistic glint showed in their smiles.

— JP/Prodita Sabarini, Wamena, Jayawijaya


4) ‘Collective grief’ leads to dream of freedom
Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post | Thu, 03/28/2013 12:58 PM | Reportage
For Papuans, their graves are a reminder of the grief that besieges their land.

In front of the Justice and Human Rights Advocacy Network office in Wamena is the grave of Opinus Tabuni, a member of the Papuan Indigenous Council, killed in a military crackdown on World Indigenous Peoples’ Day in August 2008.

Human rights activist Theo Hesegem sat just a few feet from the grave. He recently said that the government’s attitude to the complex social and political problems in Papua would not end the violence.

In 2011, UP4B was established to accelerate development and growth in the most impoverished region in Indonesia. The hope was to improve the welfare of indigenous Papuans and quell their discontents.

But the source of discontent is not about having food on their plates. Theo said that Papuans’ main problem “is not eating and drinking. It’s not about welfare. We don’t know how many children, how many families, how many people have been shot or killed — that’s the problem”, Theo said.

Researchers at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) believe that decades of political violence has led Papua to a collective memory of grief, or memoria passionis.

While the government attempts to speed up development in the region, it retains a military approach. In 2009, security forces killed Free Papua Movement (OPM) leader Kelly Kwalik, and despite of his death, sporadic attacks from the OPM continue. According to the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), last month’s ambush was partly due to rebel fighters unhappy with a new military district command (Kodim) in Puncak Jaya.

“People can’t assume that the issue of Papua is finished. It’s about ideology. You can’t shoot a person and say his ideology is dead. There are other people. That person has children who will continue to think that ‘my father was shot because of Papua’,” Theo said.

Melianus Wantik, 29, member of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) which campaign for secession from Indonesia, said that the grave of They H. Eluay, the assassinated leader of the independence movement the Papua Presidium Council, was an important place for KNPB.

Young activists in Papua established KNPB after Theys was killed. During the founding of KNPB Melianus said they camped at Theys.

KNPB members themselves are now on the police wanted list, accused of shootings and bombings. KNPB leader Victor Yeimo reports that 22 KNPB members were killed last year, including the KNPB leader Mako Tabuni.

For Papuan Indigenous Council (DAP) Baliem area head, Yulianus Hisage, the killings no longer have a shock effect on him. “Killing people, shooting people in Papua: It’s normal. For us, the indigenous community, it’s normal because it’s not the first time we’ve seen it,” he said.

Yulianus, who is part of the Jakarta-based conflict resolution NGO, the Titian Perdamaian Institute and often travels outside of Papua, does not feel safe in his own land. “When I leave Papua, for Yogya I feel safe. Back in Papua, I worry when I will be killed,” he said.


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