Saturday, March 9, 2013

1) Quo vadis the peace dialogue for Papua?

1) Quo vadis the peace dialogue for Papua?

2) A life devoted to liberation

3) UK Government supports the  UP4B and freedom of expression in Papua

1) Quo vadis the peace dialogue for Papua?

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Over a year ago, in February 2012, we were moved by the willingness of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to engage in dialogue with Papuans. He expressed his commitment publicly during his audience with Papuan church leaders. After 12 months, however, we have not seen much progress in honoring his promise.

 While we wait for any sign of follow-up, we have been struck by the shooting incidents in the Mulia area. Eight soldiers and four civilians were shot dead and some others are in a critical condition.

These incidents not only exemplify the unresolved 50-year conflict, but more importantly pose a serious threat to Papuan peace initiatives promoted by Papuan and Indonesian civil society. The incidents might also have reinforced the skeptics’ belief that peace dialogue with Papua is not workable. Even such a prominent figure in the Aceh peace process Jusuf Kalla seems to be convinced that an armed separatist group has to be dealt with by arms.

All these pessimistic interpretations, however, overlook the broader reality of the effectiveness of peace dialogue around the world. Among the extensive research on peace-building, let us highlight two examples which deal with empirical evidence.

First is the 2012 Human Security Report. The report examines four different ways to end conflicts: Peace agreement, cease-fire, victory and other terminations during the period of 1950-2004. Statistical figures show that the effectiveness of peace agreement in ending conflict is slightly lower (32 percent) than cease-fires (38 percent).

But the report also demonstrates that “although peace agreements are less stable than victories, they lead to a much greater reduction in battle deaths.” The figure evinces a more than 80 percent reduction in death tolls after a peace agreement even if it fails and conflict restarts again. This effect does not apply to all other types of terminations. Over all, a peace agreement is empirically more effective in stemming violence by addressing root causes of violence. This process has resulted in the dramatic reduction in death tolls.

Second is Chenoweth and Stefan’s Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (2011). Based on 323 case studies worldwide from 1900 to 2006, their research shows that nonviolent resistance was successful in 53 percent of cases in comparison to only 26 percent of armed struggles in achieving the objectives of a resistance movement. The core factors in the success of nonviolent methods lie in their ability to cause the defection of state security forces to take the side of nonviolent movements and to mobilize broad participation from a general public.

This study gives us good grounds to argue that in the long run nonviolent resistance in Papua, particularly the call for peace dialogue, is more likely to succeed than violent resistance. More importantly, the study suggests that nonviolent resistance is much more capable of broadening its participation, including from state security forces.

In other words, both examples give us empirical grounds to conclude that peace dialogues have worked effectively to end conflict in many contexts. Further, in comparison to other types of conflict resolution, peace dialogue works better in comprehensively addressing the root causes of violence. Therefore, we can adequately surmise that the same approach will likely work for Papua.

These studies also resonate with the existing Papuan peace initiatives under the banner “Papua Land of Peace”. This is not just a slogan. Rather, it is the deeply philosophical and religious conviction of Papuan civil society, which reflects on the Papuan memoria passionis (memory of suffering) following the violent 1998 Biak incident. The memoria passionis, however, does not merely record the story of Papuan victimhood. Rather, it is all about the energy of change and the politics of hope to craft a better and just future.

The memory vividly preserves the 50-year history of Papuans and consolidates the energy of emancipation into the Papuan call for dialogue. This is the locus of the Papua Peace Network’s passion for peace. This is the context in which the Tji Hak-Soon justice and peace award for Father Neles Tebay must be understood.

The award has not only renewed Papuans’ calls for a peace dialogue, but also shows the commitment of the international community to endorsing Father Tebay’s tireless efforts for peace. The international community recognizes Papuan peacemaking. The world remains a strong believer in peace and justice.

The writer, a Franciscan friar and former director of the Office for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church in Jayapura, Papua, is currently a PhD scholar at Regulatory Institutions Network, the Australian National University.

2) A life devoted to liberation

  •  9th Mar 2013 11:08 AM

  • Benny Wenda is on a mission: Free West Papua.John Gass
    AS A toddler he watched soldiers violently rape his aunt.
    In his teens, he was spat on because his skin was darker than others.
    As an adult, he was falsely charged with criminal offences and thrown into an Indonesian prison.
    Now, from his exiled home in Britain, Benny Wenda fights to free his country from occupation.
    His relentless advocacy for West Papua's separation from Indonesia has not exhausted the father of six and has earned him the world's attention.
    Mr Wenda visited the Gold Coast last month in collaboration with Southern Cross University as part of his first official world tour to raise awareness for his country's plight.
    While the West Papuan independence leader also visited Papua New Guinea, he knows he will never be able to return to his homeland.
    Growing up in the country's primitive central highlands, Mr Wenda climbed the tribal ranks to become the leader of elders in his village.
    He said in his teens he realised his people and Indonesians were not held in the same esteem - a situation brought home for him in the classroom.
    "Why I am involved in this campaign is my aunty was raped in front of my eyes when I was five," he recalled.
    "I couldn't do anything at the time and I didn't know why these people were killing us and raping my aunty.
    "When I grow up five years in the jungle, I was loyal to Indonesia and then I find out why they are doing this.
    "Even in the school, an Indonesian girl spit in my face and then second time I washed my body, thinking maybe I smell and went back in class, and she spit in my face again.
    "I wipe my face and I say, 'Look, I am a human being like you. I have five fingers like you'.
    "Then I grow up and I look back at what is happening to my people."
    Mr Wenda continued to reflect on the treatment of Papuan people as he studied politics at Stisipol University in Papua.
    Soon, he began to make noise.
    He led peaceful demonstrations in the street and questioned the Indonesian occupation.
    He was loud enough to be thrown in jail in 2002 on accusations of inciting people against the Indonesian government and burning down a police station.
    "Even though I was not there, and not involved because I am leader, they arrest me and put me in the prison," he said.
    "Just simply because I was leading peacefully and rising the morning star flag."
    He struggled in jail with the threats to his life and compiled a vision to escape.
    "If I stay I would be killed. Better I escape and they kill me - that is my responsibility," he said.
    Climbing through the jail's ventilation system, he catapulted over the high security facility's walls before making the two-week journey on foot to the Papua New Guinean border.
    Mr Wenda's prison break took him through his native land's harsh jungle, hiding during the day and surviving only on food he pocketed from people's thatched roof homes along the way.
    Once over the border, he stayed in a refugee camp and was reunited with his wife, Maria.
    He finally made it to his new home in Britain, where he was granted political asylum with the help of a prominent human rights lawyer - Jennifer Robinson - who also represents Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
    Since then, Mr Wenda has set up the international lawyers and parliamentarians for West Papuan groups to draw diplomatic focus to his country's situation.
    Despite being thousands of miles and cultures away from the cause he advocates for, he remains in tune with the atrocities that engross his country.
    "West Papua. I always call it a military zone," he said
    "Everyday life is intimidation, discrimination, harassment.
    "In West Papua, maybe you may see some of the police and military holding the gun in a public place. So that is every day.
    "In everyday life people are traumatised.
    "That is why we are under illegal occupation.
    "My mission is how to free my people. That is why in the day and night I am working very hard to tell the world."
    The West Papua issue has slipped in and out of the spotlight since Indonesia annexed the land as its easternmost province in 1961. It was formerly called Irian Jaya.
    Under a deal struck by the US, the United Nations took sovereign control of West Papua in 1962 while a vote - the Act of Free Choice - on independence was conducted.
    It has been widely recorded the Indonesian military picked the 1000 elders to weigh in on the vote, which favoured Indonesian control.
    Wenda said the atrocities that promoted the Papuans' hate of Indonesian control were still rife.
    According to the Papua AIDS Prevention Commission, about 50% of Indonesians living with AIDS are from West Papua.
    This is an epidemic many believe foreigners have played a part in.
    Mr Wenda said it was not unusual to hear stories of West Papuans, who didn't know any better, being paid for their work by having sex with prostitutes who have HIV - with the blessing of their foreign employers.
    It was just one in a string of stories to emerge from his home country, Wenda said, but he hoped this generation would step up and take notice.
    And as his children, aged between two and 11, approach the age Wenda was when he recognised racism for the first time, he is confident his children will continue his fight.
    "I am trying to explain we are here not because we are looking for better life, or for house or car. We are here on a mission because our people cry for freedom."
    For more, go to
    Benny Wenda gained political asylum in the United Kingdom in 2003 but that did not stop the Indonesian Government's hunt for him.
    Indonesian Authorities issued an Interpol red notice, an international arrest warrant, against Mr Wenda in 2010.
    After Fair Trials International challenged the notice, an Interpol investigation found it was politically motivated in nature and an abuse of the system by the Indonesian Government.
    3) UK Government supports the  UP4B and freedom of expression in Papua
    Bintang Papua, 8 March 2013

    The Director of the Asia-Pacific Directorate of Foreign Office, Peter Wilson, has responded positively to the creation of UP4B, the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua.

    His support for the Unit was expressed during a meeting with Bambang Darmono, the head of UP4B, at the Foreign Office in London.

    'The British Government will continue to  keep in touch with the UP4B in the framework of supporting development in the provinces of Papua and West Papua,' the spokesman for the UP4B delegation stated in a press release following the meeting.

    The head of UP4B was on a visit to London on the invitation of the British Government, in order to visit several institutions and meet several individuals to discuss  the question of development and living conditions in West Papua, in anticipation of the impact of Global Warming and with regard to freedom of expression.

    The head of UP4B  said that the Unit would speed up development in Papua and West Papua, based on the principle of ensuring a good environment for the people. He said that programmes to accelerate development in the two provinces would pay close attention to the question of protecting the environment because this was of lasting importance to the future of the Papuan people.

    He also said that the question of traditional land ownership had been discussed and said that everything will be done to respect this. This was in order to ensure that the people of Papua and West Papua could play a role in productive economic activities.

    With regard to the question of freedom of expression, the British Government believes that this is going well because the chance to express opinions in public happens very frequently. This is evident from the many reports in the media about the occurrence of political activities such as frequently-held demonstrations.  The police only take action when demonstrators act in violation of the law or in the case of criminal activities.

    During his visit to London, the head of UP4B met several Members of Parliament, including Richard Graham. He also had a discussion with Amnesty International to discuss how the principle of basic human rights was being handled in Papua.

    He is quoted as saying: 'The discussion with Amnesty International was very productive because both sides were able to  explain their positions on the question, within the framework of the situation in West Papua.'

    [Translated by TAPOL]

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