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

Friday, March 29, 2013

1) Fiji leader meets West Papuan self determination group

1) Fiji leader meets West Papuan self determination group2) MSG CHAIRMAN MEETS WITH WEST PAPUA GROUP

Posted at 01:53 on 29 March, 2013 UTC
The Fiji Prime Minister and chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Frank Bainimarama, has told a West Papuan self determination group their quest for membership of the MSG will need extensive consultation among members.
He met representatives of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation in Suva this week.
The Port Vila based group, led by Dr Otto Ondawame, and including former Vanuatu prime minister Barak Sope, wants to see Papua become a member of the Melanesian bloc.
Commodore Bainimarama says a decision on Papua joining the MSG will be made after extensive consultations.



CAPTION: Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. Photo: Josephine Navula.
The Prime Minister of Fiji and Chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Voreqe Bainimarama received representatives of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) in Suva, Fiji this week, in their quest for membership to the Melanesian bloc.
The WPNCL was led by Dr Otto Ondowame, the Vice Chairman of the grouping and included Mr Rex Rumakiek, the Secretary General and Mr Barrack Sope, former Prime Minister of Vanuatu and adviser to the WPNCL.
In welcoming the delegation, Prime Minister Bainimarama acknowledged receiving the WPNCL’s expression of interest to join the Melanesian Group and informed them that this is a process which will require extensive consultation amongst members of the organization. He advised that once a decision has been reached by members, the WPNCL will be informed of the outcome.
On behalf of the WPNCL, Vice Chairman Ondawame thanked Prime Minister Bainimarama for taking the time to meet with the delegation and hear from them directly, their reasons for submitting their application.  They also commended him for leading the people of Fiji well during these challenging times and also his overall leadership of the MSG over the past two years which has seen MSG gain prominence in regional affairs.
They noted that under Fiji’s Chairmanship, the MSG has advanced issues relating to the process for decolonization in New Caledonia, trade, economic and cultural issues which have further strengthened the grouping and expressed their appreciation to the Prime Minister for acknowledging their application to be a part of this young and dynamic organization.
The WPNCL is the umbrella organization of the West Papuan independence movement established in 2008 and is based in Port Vila, Vanuatu.  The objective of the WPNCL is to organize and coordinate programs and activities to restore or reclaim Papuan people’s right of self-determination and independence.  In their MOU signed at their last Summit in April 2008, they declare their motto to be ‘one people one soul’ – different organizations bound by their Papuan Identity.
Within the WPNCL, there are 28 Papuan political parties and NGOs located in West Papua and others that are based overseas. They claim to represent the 2.5million people of West Papua.
The delegation also congratulated Prime Minister on his assumption of the Chairmanship of the G77 and wished him well in his role, a first for the region.
Prime Minister Bainimarama expressed his appreciation to the WPNCL for taking the time to visit Fiji to meet with him and the Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and informed them that he will maintain close contact with his colleagues on the matter and will inform them through the MSG Secretariat of the Leaders decision.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL)
P O Box 5024, Port Vila, VANUATU, Phone: + 678 5616 733, +61414141018, + 678 774080 

Officials from West Papua National Coalition for Liberation met with Prime Minister Vereqe Banimarama on 27 March 2013. Earlier, on 25th March the delegation met with Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and his Staff. An Official from MSG Secretariat was also in attendance.

The delegation is consisted of Vice Chairman, Dr.Otto Ondawame, Secretary General, Mr. Rex Rumakiek and Mr. Barak T. Sope Mautamate former Prime Minister and adviser to WPNCL.
They were in Fiji lobbying for full membership status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) which is currently chaired by the Fijian Prime Minister.
They will be visiting the other members of MSG to also seek their support.
WPNCL lodged its application for full membership on 28 January 2013.

In welcoming the delegation, Prime Minister Banimarama thanked the visiting delegation for taking this inaugural visit to Fiji to now formally request Fiji’s support towards the cause of the West Papuans.
“Given that the application has been received by the MSG Leaders, we will ensure that it will go through the proper process and that it is discussed at the

pg. 1

next MSG Senior Officials Meeting in June before it is presented to the Leaders for their decision through the Foreign Affairs meeting,” said Prime Minister Banimarama.

On behalf of WPNCL, Vice Chairman Dr. Otto Ondawame thanked the Prime Minister for taking the time to meet with the delegation and hear from them directly, their reasons for submitting the application. They also commended him for leading the people of Fiji well during these challenging times and also his overall leadership of the MSG over the past two years which has seen MSG gain more prominence in regional affairs. They noted that under Fiji’s Chairmanship, the MSG has advanced issues relating to the process for decolonization in New Caledonia, trade, economic and cultural issues which have further strengthened the grouping and expressed their appreciation to the Prime Minister for acknowledging their application to be a part of this young and dynamic organization.

Dr. Otto Ondawame also thanked the Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola for the understanding established between his Ministry and WPNCL during discussions held in his Ministerial Office. The delegation acknowledged Minister Kubuabola for the protocol arrangements his Ministry had arranged for the delegation, including a frank Melanesian way discussion with the other Diplomats of the MSG.

WPNCL is the umbrella organization of the West Papuan independence movement based in the country with its International Secretariat in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The objective of WPNCL is to organize and coordinate programs and activities to restore or reclaim Papuan people’s right of self-­‐determination and independence.
The delegation also congratulated the Prime Minister on his assumption of the Chairmanship of the G77 and wished him well in his role, a first for the region.
Prime Minister Banimarama expressed his appreciation to the WPNCL for taking the time to visit Fiji to meet with him and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and informed them that he will maintain close contact with his colleagues on the matter and will inform them through the MSG Secretariat of the leaders decision.

Dr.Ondawame concluded by stating that this historic meeting with the government of Fiji marks the beginning of a process that eventually will bring West Papua back, to the fold of the Melanesian family of Nations.
Authorised for release by Dr John Ondawame on behalf of WPNCL Suva, 29 March 2013
pg. 2 

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.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

1) Papuan police identify civilian helicopter shooters

1) Papuan police identify civilian helicopter shooters
2) Money in the farms
3) Military Tribunal Law Overhaul Needed to Hold Soldiers to Account, Critics Say


1) Papuan police identify civilian helicopter shooters

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Papua Police chief Ins. Gen. Tito Karnavian said the police had identified the perpetrators behind the civilian helicopter shootings on Tuesday in Puncak Senyum, Papua. He said they were likely the armed civilian group whose leader had been identified only as PW.
“According to a preliminary investigation, it is strongly believed that the shooters were the armed civilian group. The area has been identified as the group’s playground for quite a while now,” Tito, former police counterterrorism special detachment commander, said on Wednesday.
He added that there had been growing suspicion that the shootings were also part of the group’s strategy to put blame on the police and the military due to the existence of a joint command post near the scene.
“They want the civilians to think that it was either the police or the military behind the shootings,” he said.
Separately, Cendrawasih Military Command Commander Maj. Gen. Christiant Zebua said he regretted the shootings, saying that whoever had masterminded the attack was heartless and irrational.
“Let alone the fact that the helicopter was transporting two Christian missionaries who carry out humanitarian missions in the region. This just makes the shootings look even worse,” he said.
An early report stated that a helicopter owned by the Helivida Foundation, en route to Wamena with two Christian missionary passengers, was shot at by unidentified gunmen in Puncak Senyum on Tuesday. No victims were reported but there were two bullet holes found on a window near the cockpit. (dic)

2) Money in the farms

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Paper Edition | Page: 8
Gentle handling: A vanilla farmer pinches vanilla pods to help pollination. Farmers in Serui, Yapen Islands regency, Papua, are starting to cultivate vanilla for export to Europe and the US.(JP/ Prodita Sabarini)
Returning to the land may be one way to improve food security and welfare in Papua. The Jakarta Post’s Prodita Sabarini was recently among a group of journalists invited by the Britsh NGO Oxfam to examine a few of their programs in Serui and Jayawijaya regencies in Papua. Below is her report. 

Seth Jenggo Mora sits under vanilla vines in Serui, a town in Yapen Island off the northern coast of Papua that resembles a bird’s neck. He sings a Yawaunat tribe song about the perils of leaving one’s home. “If I leave and return to my village/what will I have there?” he sings. “If we go abroad, when will we become a man?”

His red lips and teeth, reddened from chewing betel nuts for more than half a century, formed a smile as he finished his song. From Yapen where Serui lie to hamlets in the central mountains of Jayawijaya, traditional songs hold a deep meaning in Papuan culture. When reporters and NGO workers visited a village in Piramid district of Jayawijaya regency, Papuan men greeted visitors with tearful alments expressing their gratefulness of having guests from faraway places.

The song that Seth sung has relevance in today’s Papua, where urbanization has taken some of the young away from the rural areas to the big cities, leaving the traditional farms neglected.

As indigenous Papuans trail behind in education and economic power compared to migrants from Sulawesi, Java, or Sumatra, some young people who live in the cities end up turning to petty crimes or prostitution.

A large number of residents have contracted HIV, sending the number of infected people to the roof. According to the Health Ministry, Papua has the highest number of HIV infections in Indonesia, recording 7,572 cases between 1987 and 2012.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said that urbanization in Papua has increased by 3.76 percent between 2000 and 2010, when 25.96 percent of the population, or 735,629 people, lived in cities, compared to 22.2 percent a decade before.

In Papua, more than 70 percent of the people live from farming. Taking extractive industries out of the equation, agriculture contributed 25.74 percent to Papua’s gross domestic regional product (GDRP) in 2012.

The mining industry in the resource-rich province contributed 46.52 percent to Papua’s GDRP in 2012, but absorption of local workers has been low. In 2010, only 26,747 people, mostly migrants, worked in extractive industries. In Timika, more than 70 percent of the population are migrants, according to the 2010 census.

As agriculture holds an important role in the lives of indigenous Papuans, developing the local economy by empowering farmers might help realize their basic rights for sustainable livelihood, according to Rio Pangemanan from Oxfam, which has a number of programs involving farmers in Papua.

Farmers and NGO workers in Papua report that a change of eating habits, with the introduction of rice as staple food from Java and with the government programs of rice for the poor, has jeopardized the self subsistence of villages and the livelihoods of young people in Papua.

Jayawijaya Agriculture Agency head Paulus Sarira said that five years ago, 94 percent of the population consumed sweet potatoes as their main staple. “Now only around 16 percent of the people consume sweet potatoes. Some have turned to eating rice,” he told a seminar on food security in Wamena early this month.

Chris Manuputty, the special assistant to the Jayawijaya regent for governance and social welfare, said that the unchecked change of eating habits from sweet potatoes to rice might lead to a food crisis in Wamena in the coming years.

Petrus Wenda, 70, a farmer from Yonggime, a hamlet in Piramid district in Jayawijaya, is one of the local farmers who mourn the loss of young people from his village. In his sweet potato farm in the Baliem Valley of Jayawijaya, Petrus told visiting reporters that sweet potatoes were part of his culture. Small framed, Petrus became animated in telling the story of the benefits of sweet potatoes, or hipere in the local language.

He stepped back and jumped over an irrigation ditch to better express his feelings. His voice became louder and his movements became more animated. "See my right arm? I can defeat five men with this,” he said while stretching his right arm. “See my left arm? I can defeat five more with this,” he said, reaching out his hand. Petrus then stretched his right leg and said “I can kick with this”, displaying how hipere made him strong and healthy. “Rice tastes good but it makes your stomach ill,” he said.

There is a reason why Petrus is so passionate about sweet potatoes. According to him and other elders, the introduction of rice has made young people leave the villages for the city to earn money so they can buy rice instead of preparing their land for the women to grow sweet potatoes.

 “A lot of young people go to the city and become robbers. They live there [in cities] and they end up dead,” Petrus said. “Now young people don’t want to plant sweet potatoes. All of them think they can make money in the city. In fact, the money is here,” Petrus said.


3) Military Tribunal Law Overhaul Needed to Hold Soldiers to Account, Critics Say
Carlos Paath | March 27, 2013
Rights activists are demanding immediate changes to the 1997 Law on Military Tribunals, in the wake of a deadly attack on police detainees that some have blamed on the Army’s Special Forces. 

Haris Azhar, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that amending the law was necessary to allow armed forces personnel accused of criminal offenses to stand trial in a civilian court rather than a military tribunal. 

“Revising the law on military tribunals is an essential part of the reform process in the military and the judiciary,” he said. 

“As it currently stands, the law doesn’t allow for servicemen to face justice in a criminal court, an anti-corruption court or a human rights tribunal,” he added. 

Haris said Kontras had recorded 87 cases of violence by military personnel against civilians since 2004, none of which resulted in criminal charges against the offenders. 

“The perpetrators of these crimes and acts of violence were all tried in a military tribunal, even though none of the offenses was committed in the course of their duties,” he said. 

He added the problem with military tribunals was that the perpetrators tended to receive more lenient punishment than a criminal court would mete out. 

“It puts them beyond the reach of the law and enforces the military’s culture of impunity,” he said. 

Aziz Syamsuddin, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said legislators were open to discussing amendments to the 1997 law, but were still waiting for the government to submit the draft. 

“Amendments to that law have been needed for a long time. At one point we even formed a special committee of legislators from House Commission III and II [on domestic affairs] to discuss it,” he said. 

He added that most legislators also agreed with the need to try military personnel in a civilian court if their offenses warranted it. 

Hendardi, the head of the Setara Institute, a democracy watchdog, said the law in its current form “makes the military untouchable by criminal law statutes.” 

“If a soldier kills someone as part of his duty, there’s no question that he should go before a military tribunal,” he said, 

“But how can you justify a military tribunal if he attacks a police detention center and kills the inmates