Wednesday, October 8, 2014

1) Petition to Free the French journalists

1) Petition to Free the French journalists
2) Papuans Behind Bars Sept. update
3) Freeport faces prolonged  suspension post-accident 
4) Hope abounds for new RI  leaders to take firm stance  on HIV/AIDS

AN INTERNATIONAL media organization has launched a petition for the immediate release of two of its correspondents detained in Indonesia for three months now.
Reporters Without Borders (RWB), along with its support committee in France, have decried the detention by the Indonesian government of French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois.

“The aim of this petition is to make the Indonesian authorities realize that it is absolutely unacceptable for them to continue detaining these journalists with the aim of deterring media coverage of Papua,” RWB Secretary General Christophe Deloire said in the petition.

Founded in Montpellier, France in 1985, RWB covers news in five continents through its network of over 150 correspondents. It is registered as a non-profit organization in France since 1995 and has a consultant status at the United Nations and UNESCO. It currently has 10 offices and sections worldwide.

Bourrat and Dandoi were arrested while preparing a report for the Franco-German TV station Arte. They have been accused of violating immigration regulations and are facing the possibility of a long trial and a sentence of up to five years in prison. The French journalists are currently detained in Jayapura, the capital of the eastern province of Papua on the island of New Guinea.
“(They) did not apply for press visas because such visas are rarely granted and would have resulted in restrictions on their ability to work freely,” Deloire said.
The petition—which focuses on “fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to inform, and concern the immense majority”—has already been signed by leading journalists such as Édith Bouvier, Claire Chazal, Laurent Delahousse, Guy Lagache, Jean-Pierre Pernaut, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, David Pujadas, Harry Roselmack, and Melissa Theuriaux. – Cong B. Corrales
2) Papuans Behind Bars

September 2014: Culture of impunity in Papua threatens human rights and democracy

In brief

At the end of September 2014, there were at least 74 political prisoners in Papuan jails.
New reports of attacks against lawyers in Papua indicate that the situation is becoming worse for those involved in human rights work. A public attack on Latifah Anum Siregar, a lawyer with the Democracy Alliance for Papua (Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua, ALDP) and the failure of Indonesian authorities to end legal intimidation towards Gustaf Kawer, as reported in our previous update, demonstrates the dangers faced by lawyers involved in politically sensitive cases.
Reports from the Advocacy Network for Upholding Law and Human Rights (Jaringan Advokasi Penegakan Hukum dan HAM Pegunungan Tengah Papua, JAPH&HAM), based in Wamena, described police complicity in allowing violence to continue during a fight that broke out between two groups in Lanny Jaya. Two traditional honai houses belonging to tribal leader and political detainee Areki Wanimbo were burned down by an opposing group during the violence, whilst Jayawijaya Regional police reportedly watched and failed to stop the incident from occuring.  Another incident involving police complicity in allowing violence reportedly took place in Youtefa Market in Abepura. David Boleba, an indigenous Papuan, was publically tortured, mutilated and murdered by a group of non-Papuan youths, reportedly in the presence of an Abepura District police officer. Again, the police officer took no action against the perpetrators.
There were several reports of random acts of police brutality against indigenous Papuans. A 15-year-old boy was shot in the leg three times by members of the police Mobile Brigades (Brigades Mobil, Brimob) for simply blocking their vehicle. In another case, a student of Cenderawasih University (Universitas Cenderawasih, UNCEN) and activist with the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) Rigo Wenda was publically tortured in Waena by Indonesian army officers with bayonet blades in a random act of violence.
Information received by ALDP detailed the torture and cruel and degrading treatment faced by 18 men arrested in Wamena in the Boycott Presidential Elections case. Despite the fact that they were initially arrested for peacefully calling for an election boycott, they were instead charged for reportedly making and using explosives. The criminalisation of the freedom to not participate in a democratic process is an undemocratic step backwards for Indonesia.
Indigenous Papuans from the highlands, such as areas like Wamena, are often automatically deemed to be separatists by Indonesian authorities. Because of this stigmatisation, security forces often take a heavy handed approach with highlanders and single them out for arrests, intimidation and torture. Reports received this month described continued violent reprisals against indigenous communities in Wamena. Security forces continued to burn down houses as they hunt for members of armed pro-independence movements.
Indonesian authorities have so far failed to investigate into the murder of KNPB Sorong leader Martinus Yohame. It remains to be seen if steps will be taken towards accountability and justice, or if like previous cases of murder of Papuan activists, it will go uninvestigated and unpunished. The entrenched culture of impunity that currently runs throughout police and military units in Papua poses a serious threat to human rights and democracy in Indonesia.

You can read the full update here:

3) Freeport faces prolonged  suspension post-accident 
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Wed, October 08 2014, 12:08 PM
Copper giant PT Freeport Indonesia has yet to recommence open-mining operations due to new workplace safety requirements imposed by government after a recent deadly accident. 

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s technical and environment director Bambang Susigit said Freeport could resume its open-pit mining activities on the condition the company first improves its operational procedures as recommended by the ministry.

“The company is not allowed to resume mining activities until it implements our recommendations. On Thursday, Freeport is scheduled to report to us and we will evaluate whether or not to let the company resume operations,” Bambang said on Tuesday.

On Sept. 27, Freeport reported a collision between an operational vehicle and a large-size haul truck en route to the Grasberg open-pit mine in Papua. The haul truck, which was 2.2 meters in height, inadvertently crushed the operational vehicle that was carrying eight passengers and a driver. Four persons died and five were injured in the accident.

Three of the five injured have been released from the hospital, Freeport Indonesia’s spokesperson Daisy Primayanti said earlier. Two others, however, remain in intensive care in Jakarta.

The ministry sent a team to investigate the accident and Freeport was asked to halt its open-pit mining activities for a week.

Following the investigation, the ministry recommended standar-dized operating procedures in the Grasberg mining area and those related to traffic; improved communication among mobile equipment; better coordination between supervisor and operator; and better risk identification and management of the parking area for mobile equipment.

The suspension of operations at Grasberg, one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines, is expected to further hamper Freeport’s business performance this year as open-pit mining is the biggest contributor to the firm’s output.

The company, which is a subsidiary of US-based giant Freeport McMoRan Inc., had just resumed exports last month after reaching an agreement with the government concerning the rule that mineral ore exports could only be exported by companies that built smelters and processed domestically. 

The September accident reignited debate over safety in the Freeport mining area, where several incidents — including a landslide last year that killed 28 people — have occurred in recent years.

Several employees staged a protest last week, demanding the company pay more attention to safety. The employees blocked the access road to the Grasberg mine in Papua last week, but lifted the blockade after a discussion with Freeport officials.

According to government figures, nationwide there were 232 mining accidents last year and 216 in 2012. Out of the total 232 accidents in 2013, 46 people were killed; a significant increase from the 29 fatalities recorded in 2012. (ref)


4) Hope abounds for new RI  leaders to take firm stance  on HIV/AIDS
The Jakarta Post | Feature | Wed, October 08 2014, 12:24 PM
Under a scholarship from the International AIDS Society (IAS) and with support from the United Nations Joint Program on AIDS (UNAIDS), The Jakarta Post’s Rita A. Widiadana attended the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, to learn more about global progress in HIV/AIDS responses, including in Indonesia. The following are reports from the five-day conference.
The recent International AIDS conference, organized by the Geneva-based International AIDS Society and its partners including UNAIDS and the WHO, attracted 13,000 delegate members from around the world and ended with a global chorus of international figures, including former US president Bill Clinton and humanitarian activist and musician Bob Geldof, scientists and civil society groups hoping to end the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.

Such a task will not be easy, however, especially for developing nations like Indonesia, which is facing tremendous public health and social problems.

During the five-day conference, Indonesia was in the global spotlight for all the wrong reasons, being named one of the few countries where HIV infection has significantly increased in recent years.

HIV/AIDS constitutes a major challenge for Indonesia’s new leaders, as it is more than a health issue. For Indonesia, the scale of the societal and economic impact of HIV/AIDS could be disastrous, as the disease can reverse a country’s annual economic growth by 1 or 2 percent if it is not properly managed.

Economic wealth in the form of gross national product (GNP) could drop in some areas by as much as 40 percent by 2020. Translated to a country like Malaysia, Thailand or Indonesia, this is a sum worth billions of dollars, according to a report from an Australian donor agency.

“While new infections continue to decrease globally, we unfortunately are seeing a very different pattern in several countries in our region, with increasing number of infections in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines in 2013,” explained Sharon Lewin, co-chair of the conference and one of the International AIDS Society’s (IAS) team of global researchers.

UNAIDS data show there were 35 million people living with HIV worldwide in 2013. Geographically, the majority of people living with HIV have been found in 20 countries, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa but also in larger middle-income countries such as China, Brazil, India, Russia, Thailand and Indonesia.

In the Asia and Pacific region, there were 4.8 million people living with HIV, including 350,000 new HIV infections in the region in 2013.

In Indonesia, where the first HIV/AIDS case was discovered in Bali in l987, the number of people living with HIV was estimated at 640,000 by UNAIDS data in 2013.

Demographically, in every region in the world, HIV/AIDS shows high prevalence among certain groups, including men having sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs (PWID), sex workers and their clients, transgender people, prisoners, migrants, pregnant women and their babies.

Similarly, in Indonesia, a high incidence of HIV infection among men having sex with men is found in Jakarta (15 to 17 percent) and other big cities. The incidence among intravenous drug users (IDU) is 36.4 percent.

In Jayawijaya, Papua, HIV rates among female sex workers are as high as 25 percent, and 18 percent for male sex workers. Around 30.8 percent of waria (transgenders) people in Jakarta are HIV positive.

Steve Kraus, UNAIDS Asia and Pacific regional director, told The Jakarta Post: “The newly elected leaders of Indonesia must be briefed on the real situation of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, its current program and the mounting challenges Indonesia is now facing.”

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS executive director, told the Post that Indonesia had been implementing beneficial and innovative programs in scaling up testing and treatment for people living with HIV in the last two years.

“The country has optimized all resources — in the fields of policy making, funding, investment and human resources — to give opportunities for people living with HIV to get health access, which has resulted in the identification of new HIV infections,” Sidibé added.

“Indonesia is taking dramatic steps to slow the rate of new infections. More recent initiatives aimed at increasing access to testing and treatment are leading the way,” added Kraus.

Under Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi, Indonesia has been taking progressive and bold action by greatly expanding HIV testing, counseling and treatment services.

Early initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART) can now be offered to people living with HIV including pregnant women in 10 districts across the country’s 33 provinces. By the end of 2014, the program will be expanded to 72 districts.

Indonesia also plans to become one of several countries in the region to offer universal care by 2014, with HIV treatment included in health coverage.

“Expanding HIV treatment is part of the Indonesian government’s drive to meet the Millennium Development Goals and stamp out AIDS,” Mboi said.

Given Indonesia’s size and diffusion, a central challenge now will be ensuring that the ministry’s directives are implemented at local level.

HIV/AIDS activists are also hopeful that the new government will listen to them and work alongside them.

Vinolia Wakijo, a prominent defender of transgender people and sex workers in Yogyakarta, said that implementing the AIDS response without involving affected groups would be almost impossible.

“Bu Naf [Nafsiah Mboi] is a minister who has an open mind and heart as she has invited [transgender people and sex workers], as well as MSM and people injecting drugs, to be part of the solution,” Vinolia said.

Tono Permana, coordinator of a national network for men who have sex with men and transgender people, applauded the program.

Dede Oetomo, founder of Gaya Nusantara, a leading gay rights advocacy group, said he was hoping that president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would have an open mind and an innovative program.

“HIV is more than just a public health threat. It encompasses deep social, cultural and religious stigma and discrimination against the affected people. Jokowi seems willing to listen to people’s needs,” Dede said.

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