1) EU URGES INDONESIA TO ALLOW ACCESS TO INDEPENDENT OBSERVERS IN PAPUA
Ana Maria Gomez, one of EU Parliament member who signed the letter (rigth), with Victor Mambor, Chairperson of The Alliance of Independent Journalist on West Papua (Jubi)
Jayapura, 31/3 (Jubi) – Members of European Union parliament urged Indonesia to allow independent observers including those from the EU and the United Nations to monitor elections in Papua.
Sixteen members of EU parliament have sent a letter to the EU High Representatives for Foreign and Security Affairs, Catherine Ashton following a hearing on Papua in January and the parliament’s vote on a memorandum of understanding between Indonesia and the European Union. The parliament members asked Ashton to push Indonesia to actively begin a dialogue process with the people of West Papua as an effort to resolve the conflict peacefully as demanded by some activists in Papua and Jakarta.
The parliament members also asked Indonesia to provide access for independent observers including the observers from the EU and the UN Human Rights Council and to protect the freedom of the local media in Papua.
Leonidas Donskis, an EU parliament member from Finland, wrote to Jubi on Monday (30/3) that the letter also urged Indonesia to release all political prisoners and to end the practice of accusing Papuans involved in peaceful political activities of treason.
The European Union parliament also expressed strong support for reforms in Indonesia to ensure that security forces responsible to the human rights violations would brought to justice by reforming the military court system. “Local NGOs have reported that the Indonesian Army continues to commit atrocities against civilians in West Papua while some European Union member countries are selling weapons to Indonesia. It is not possible to monitor whether those weapons have been used against civilians since there is limited access to Papua,” wrote Donskis.
The letter to Ashton, a copy of which was received by Jubi on Saturday (29/3), also mentioned that several articles of Special Autonomy Law have been violated. Other government initiatives such as the establishment of the Development Acceleration Unit for Papua and West Papua (UP4B) and the proposed draft of Special Autonomy Plus Law involved very few indigenous people, it said.
The letter said Jakarta’s approach to the situation of West Papua only revolves around economic issues and budgets were mostly spent on health services and education but health and education facilities were not well functioning. It also noted that people who express their political opinions and exercise freedom of speech peacefully have subjected to persecution and some activists have been arrested and sentenced to up to 20 years in jail.
The parliament members also expressed concerns that foreign observers and humanitarian and rights organizations as well as independent journalists have been banned from visiting and faced serious restrictions in Papua. Human rights organizations and the Church continuously report about extrajudicial killings, tortures and detention and limited access of education and health services for the indigenous Papuans, the letter said.
The European Union parliament has invited Mr. Norman Vos from the International Coalition for Papua, Ms. Zelly Ariane for National Papua Solidarity and Mr. Victor Mambor from the Alliance for Independent Journalist of Kota Jayapura to speak about the current issues of Papua on 23 January 2014. (Jubi/Benny Mawel/rom)
Asmat artwork titled ”Painted mat” by artist Efarista Tojakap, of Erma village in the Unir Sirau region. Materials: sago palm frond, lime white, ocher, soot, clix seeds, quill. Size: 69 x 58.5 cm (27.2 x 23 in). Purchased in Agats during the 2011 Asmat Cultural Festival. American Museum of Asmat Art (U of St. Thomas photo)
St. Paul, Minn. (March 26, 2014) — How the Second Vatican Council influenced the work of American Crosier missionaries in a remote region of Papua, Indonesia, especially in connection with the art and culture of the Asmat people who live there, is examined in in the American Museum of Asmat Art’s latest exhibition at the University of St. Thomas.
The Second Vatican Council, which closed in 1965, promoted religious dialog and supported anthropological efforts to understand and work with Asmat cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs.
The exhibition, “Museums and Mission: American Crosiers in Asmat and the Spirit of Vatican II,” is free and open to the public and can be seen April 1 through Dec. 19 in The Gallery, located on the second floor of the Anderson Student Center on the university’s St. Paul campus.
A reception with the six graduate art history students who curated the exhibition will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, April 7, at The Gallery. The students are Bret Campion, Angela Daniels, Tongtong Guo, Kathryn Joy, Chelsea Lynch and Dakota Passariello. They developed the exhibition as part a graduate seminar taught last semester by American Museum of Asmat Art director Dr. Julie Risser.
The exhibition also includes seven photographs of Asmat life taken last fall by Joshua Irwandi from Indonesia. He is pursuing a master’s in photojournalism and documentary photography at the London College of Communications. Irwandi will discuss “Covering Asmat” in a 4 p.m. talk Tuesday, April 8, in Room 202 of the Anderson Student Center. The talk is geared toward students who hope to travel and do research, whether in Asmat or other regions, and will address practical and ethical issues involved with photographing other cultures.
Asmat Drum (Em), carved by Konpas, Daikot Village, Yupmakcain Region. Softwood, rattan, lizard skin. Collected in 1969, gift of Bishop Alphonse Sowada. (U of St. Thomas photo)
The Asmat people inhabit a remote region of Papua, Indonesia. Thet are known for their traditional and contemporary carvings.
The Asmat live in several hundred villages that are located in tidal and freshwater swamps and lowland rainforests. The challenges of reaching this part of southwestern Papua meant the Asmat had little contact with the outside world until the 1950s.
The American Crosier Fathers and Brothers began collecting Asmart art when they first arrived in Papua 60 years ago. They established the Asmat Museum of Culture and Progress in the Papua city of Agats. Much of the collection then moved to the Crosier Art Museum in Hastings, Neb., and later to Shoreview, Minn. In 2007 more than 1,400 pieces came to St. Thomas, a gift of the American Crosier Fathers and Brothers and the Diocese of Agats.
The collection, one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the United States, has since grown to more than 2,000 pieces and includes finely crocheted masks, intricately carved shields, long “spirit canoes” and tall ancestor or bisj poles. The St. Thomas-based American Museum of Asmat Art is the only one that has continued to purchase art directly from Asmat artists in recent years.
“One essential goal of the Crosier mission work in Asmat was to create programming that would contribute to teaching skills needed to engage successfully with the international world, a force that was rapidly entering their society,” Risser said. “Promoting carved and woven works by master carvers and weavers emerged as a viable way to engage with the international cash economy as well as affirm respect for the rich Asmat culture.”
Items selected by the students for the exhibition include drums, carved sculptures, digging sticks, nose pieces, arm bands, decorated fiber objects and bowls.
An Asmat boy throwing a net into a river. This is one of seven images of Asmat life taken by Joshua Irwandi, of Indonesia, that are part of the St. Thomas exhibition.
Also included is a video loop featuring interviews with Crosier missionaries who served in Agats. In a 2011 interview about the sacred nature of drums, Father Dave Gallus commented: “It is through the carving that the ancestor is remembered. So the drum has a name, usually. And when you use the drum, the ancestor is also present.”
In addition to the museum at St. Thomas, large collections of Asmat art and artifacts can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. In 2009, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts displayed 72 pieces from the St. Thomas collection during a four-month exhibition. Some art historians believe that Asmat art influenced modernist and surrealist Western artists such as Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso.
Exhibition hours are: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays; and noon to 4 p.m. on weekends. More information is available at (651) 962-5512 and on the Department of Art History website at www.stthomas.edu/arthistory