Sunday, March 31, 2013

Summary of events in West Papua for March 2013

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

Summary of events in West Papua for March 2013
The issue of West Papua received a lot of coverage in the region in the past month, mostly related to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and the visit to PNG and Vanuatu by Benny Wenda as part of his Freedom tour.

In Vanuatu, MPs elected a new prime minister, Greens’ leader, Moana Carcasses Kalosil after the resignation of Prime Minister Sato Kilman just minutes before the Opposition was to bring a vote of no confidence in him. Mr Carcasses was chosen by 34 of the 52 MPs. It was partly concern over the government’s policy on West Papua and Mr Kilman’s move to forge closer ties with Indonesia that galvanized support for parliamentary moves to remove the Sato Kilman-led government.

Earlier in the month Vanuatu's then Opposition Leader, Edward Natapei (now Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new government) said Melanesian countries shouldn't allow Indonesia to meddle in their affairs. Mr Natapei told Radio Australia's that full membership should instead be given to West Papua. "Indonesia should not have been admitted as a member or observer of the MSG," he said. "Rather it should have been the Melanesians in West Papua, because the Melanesian group - as I said - was formed basically to assist Melanesians in the region with their struggle for independence."  Indonesia was granted observer status in 2011.

Also in Vanuatu the President of the new Shefa Provincial Government, Chief Atavimarata, and his councillors affirmed their support towards West Papuan political freedom, not only by words of mouth. The Shefa Provincial Government committed itself in a signed agreement and publicly made the symbolic announcement that Shefa Province is a home to the West Papuans. In a prepared statement, Atavimarata said in his speech that the issue has been dragging on for many years but the support of the Shefa Province’s to the West Papuan course is clear and that West Papua must become an independent state one day to come- even if it takes time. He made the remarks during a briefing by West Papua campaigner, Benny Wenda, who called on the Shefa Province to support the West Papuan struggle for self-political freedom.

Support by the people of Vanuatu for West Papua has never been stronger. Before the new government of Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil was elected, The Chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council had called on the (previous) government in the middle of March to take heed of the nation’s sentiments on the West Papua issue. Vanuatu’s Anglican Bishop, James Ligo, says at its just completed general assembly in Honiara, the Pacific Council of Churches passed a resolution for the World Council of Churches to pressure the United Nations to send a monitoring team to Indonesia’s Papua region. Ni-Vanuatu have long voiced strong support for West Papuan rights but Bishop Ligo says government policy doesn’t reflect this.“We know that Vanuatu has taken a side-step on that (the west Papua issue) and we know that our government supported Indonesia’s observer status on the MSG, we know that. But again, we also believe that as churches we have the right to advocate and continue to remind our countries and our leaders to be concerned about our West Papuan brothers and sisters who are suffering every day.” Bishop James Ligo

The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) has applied for membership of the MSG. Representatives of the group were received by the Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, in Suva on the 27 March. The delegation was led by Dr John Otto Ondawame, the vice-chairman of the grouping and it included Rex Rumakiek, the secretary-general and Barak Sope, a former Prime Minister of Vanuatu and adviser to the coalition. 
The delegation presented their quest for membership to the Melanesian bloc. 
Commodore Bainimarama acknowledged receiving the group’s expression of interest to join the Group and informed them that this was a process which would require extensive consultation among members of the organisation. 
He said the coalition would be informed of the decision made by the Group.

Statement from the Coalition at The MSG has been holding its Silver Jubilee celebrations throughout Melanesia in the past few months and hopefully this year the MSG will grant membership to West Papuan representatives at its upcoming summit in New Caledonia (Kanaky) in July.

Urgent actions.
A number of urgent actions were released by the Asian Human Rights Commission in the past month which individuals can respond to. They are in regard to incidents of arrests and torture of Papuans.

A priest was arrested and beaten by five police officers after randomly shouting in front of a police station. The police demanded the priest's family to give them money for his release

On the evening of 7 February 2013, a joint force of the Indonesian National Police and the Indonesian Military raided Ipakiye Village in East Paniai District, Papua. The joint force consisted of members of Papua Regional Police’s Mobile Brigade, Community Control Unit of Paniai District Police and the 753 Battalion of the Indonesian Military. The aim of the operation was to find members of the pro-independence group, Free Papua Movement (OPM). At around 9.30pm, the joint force raided the house of Stepanus Yogi, a civilian who is married to Dorpina Gobai and the father of a 18-month old baby. Just prior to the raid some other villagers of Ipakiye told Stepanus that the joint force was coming to his house so he ran for his life, leaving his wife and baby at the house. Six civilians were arrested and four officers of the joint force also molested Dorpina and physically assaulted her 18 month old baby during the raid.

In Paniai,  the police arrested two teenagers,  Alpons Gobay (15 year old) and Menny Gobay (18 year old) based on fabricated charges  after finding a woven bag filled with a cartridge and other materials associated with pro-independence movement, which did not belong to either of them but was left by a stranger just before the police came. The police told the media that the two teenagers are members of a pro-independence group yet the spokesperson of the group has claimed that the arrested individuals are not members. The police and military officers kicked and beat Alpons and Menny. The officers also hit Alpons and Menny with their guns before taking them to Paniai District Police Station in a car. The beatings continued during the journey from Bobaigo Village to the police station as well as during the interrogation process. As a result, both victims’ forehead, lips, head and arms were wounded. Alpons and Menny also suffer from pain in their ribs.

The AHRC has received updated information regarding the case on torture of 20 prisoners at Abepura Correctional Facility, Papua. After intervention from various human rights groups on the case, the Head of the correctional facility who was responsible for the torture was removed from his office earlier this month. However, as of today, no information has been received regarding criminal proceedings against him.

Amnesty International has a petition in relation to Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap who are currently detained at the Jayapura district police station in Papua province. Police officers allegedly tortured them and five other men during interrogation about the whereabouts of two pro-independence activists. They have not received medical treatment and they have not had access to a lawyer since their arrest.which can be signed at

The Chairman of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Papua, Socratez Sofyan Yoman, says the three men, aged 23, 30 and 46 have been tortured in the Lanny Jaya Regency of Papua province. The men who are members of the Baptist Church in Pirime, were arrested after returning from a trip to Sinak. Sinak is part of the region where a massive military and police operation is underway in response to last month’s shooting deaths of eight Indonesian soldiers. It is not yet clear why the three men were arrested but they have been taken to Wamena Police Station. The Reverend Sofyan says he understands that police sliced off skin of the arrested men with razor blades.

Latest reply from DFAT to AWPA letter of the 25 February regarding the ambush of soldiers and the torture of 20 prisoners in Abepura prison.

In brief
Neles Tebay awarded the Tji Hak-Soon Peace and Justice Award for 2013
Father Neles Tebay of Papua has been named the winner of the Tji Hak-Soon Peace and Justice Award for 2013 for mediating peace talks between Papuan separatists and the Indonesia government. Neles emphasized that improving dialogue between Jakarta and Papua is the best and most dignified means of seeking a just and peaceful solution to violence in the Papuan provinces. “We want many people and institutions, both from within and from outside Indonesia, to be friends of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua,” the coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network said.

Helicopter shot at. 
On the 26 March unidentified gunmen fired shots at a helicopter in Puncak Jaya region. There were no fatalities in the incident but two bullet holes were found in a window near the cockpit.. The helicopter was on a flight to pick up two missionaries from Lumo village.  The police claim separatists are responsible for the attack. 

“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 the 28 March. However, the OPM has denied responsibility for the attack.

Papuans form association to monitor mining activities
Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Papua March 23 2013, The Papuan Traditional Council (DAP) has formed the Papuan People Mining Association as part of the council’s supervision of mining activities, the fruits of which it the DAP says often bypass Papua province's indigenous people.“The Papuan people as the rightful owners of the province are often only treated as spectators, watching their natural resources taken somewhere else by investors,” head of the Paniai Traditional Council John Gobay, one of the association's founders, said on Saturday. Baliem Traditional Council head Lemock Mabel said that indigenous people should be involved in mining activities regardless of their poor mastery of current technology or access to capital. “We also urge investors to pay attention to preserving nature as part of their activities here. Don’t just pursue fortunes but then forget about preserving nature,” he said. He said the association would push the government to insert a clause in the regional regulation that ruled out mining activities in the province. He expected the new regulation would put the Papuan people in a better position so they could prosper more from their province. (dic)

Crackdown in Paniai
West Papua Media reported on a crackdown in Paniai after guerrillas from Paniai commander Jhon Yogi's Paniai unit of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) were involved in armed engagements with the Indonesian army (TNI) and Police throughout February. Jubi also reported that during the police sweeps the phones of local people were checked and if the memory cards contained folk songs in the Papuan language the police would smash the memory card with stones.

Indonesia to Buy More Russian Jet Fighters, Patrol Ships
Jakarta Globe March 20, 2013  Indonesia plans to buy more than a dozen Russian Sukhoi fighter jets and domestically made, missile-equipped patrol ships as part of a $15 billion five-year campaign to modernize its military, defense officials said on Wednesday. Southeast Asia’s largest economy has sharply increased its defense budget since 2010 as the military looks to bolster its capacity to protect shipping lanes, ports and maritime boundaries. Indonesia is also wary of being left behind as China, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian nations ramp up defense spending.  Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said Indonesia wanted to buy a full squadron of the Sukhoi fighter jets and the patrol boats.  
He also warned delegates at a military conference that rapidly increasing military spending and stronger defense capabilities in the region could sow distrust and fuel rivalry.  “If this is not accompanied by enhanced transparency that improves trust and confidence, it could run the risk of an arms race that adversely impacts on peace and stability,” he said.  Another Indonesian military official said the plan was to buy as many as 16 more Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, 17 patrol vessels, three light frigates and an undisclosed number of tanks and missiles.  Indonesia also planned to upgrade a squadron of US-made F-16s. Indonesia already has more than 10 Sukhoi jets.  Last October, the Defense Ministry said it was set to buy 130 Leopard 2 tanks from Rheinmetall AG of Germany worth a total of $280 million.    Indonesia, a vast nation of islands with key sea lanes and 54,700 km of coast, has also ordered three submarines from South Korea to expand its fleet to five.  Defense spending in 2012 stood at Rp 72.5 trillion ($7.54 billion), up 30 percent from 2011. It is expected to rise to Rp 77.7 trillion in 2013.       Reuters

Reports/opinion pieces/press releases etc.
There were a large number of opinion pieces on the issue of WP this month. A selection below.

Indonesians must swallow bad apples
Contenders for next year's Indonesian presidential election are already jostling for position. Michael Bachelard runs the rule over a dubious-looking field.

UN as Protector or Abuser of Human Rights?
Andrew Johnson

Quo vadis the peace dialogue for Papua?
Budi Hernawan,

Australia cannot ignore rights abuses in West Papua

The Annihilation of Indigenous West Papuans: A Challenge and a Hope

Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power Review by Ed McWilliams for ETAN

Lake Ayre to West Papua land and sea convoy for peace and justice 
Events in Sydney Film and Discussion Night on Friday the 13th of April, 
A fundraiser and awareness raising gig on Saturday the 20th of April at Salmagundi studios, 49 bonar st Arncliffe.
Information and links to what is happening so far.
we just launched a official website: 
and an invite video by uncle Kevin Buzzacott: 
and we have a pozible, crowd funding page going too:
and have had a facebook event and thread going for a while now: 
Contact for further details

Ending the pervasive curse of ‘Papua currency’

Taming separatists by giving away projects

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