Friday, April 24, 2015

1) Commentary: Asia, Africa and the Unresolved Question of Papua

2) Priority or Not, Indonesia Happy to Host Vanuatu Embassy
3) Reconciliation for Human Right Cases Possible: Komnas HAM

4) Free West Papua rally in Nigeria


1) Commentary: Asia, Africa and the Unresolved Question of Papua

(JG Graphics/Josep Tri Ronggo)
Sixty years ago in Bandung, 29 representatives from Asian and African nations were enthused with the spirit of decolonization, and today even more seem determined to pursue South-South cooperation.
If we look back at the 1955 Bandung conference as described in Richard Wright’s “The Colour Curtain,” it was simply stunning. Most of the leaders of newly independent nations were former political prisoners under their respective colonial regimes. Those who had long been treated as underdogs were now in charge of new nations. It was a new dawn of liberation and in 1960 these Asian and African countries made history through the adoption of Resolution No. 1514 on Decolonization at the General Assembly of the United Nations.
For this year’s commemorative Asian-African Conference, Indonesia has set three main goals: 1. strengthening South-South cooperation to promote world peace and properity; 2. reinvigorating the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership; and 3. a Declaration on Palestine.
However, one thing is missing in this picture: Papua.

Sixty years ago, Papua was on the top of then-president Sukarno’s decolonization agenda. He managed to get the support from many of the participants of the Bandung conference for his diplomatic battle at the UN to make Papua — still ruled by the Dutch — part of the Republic of Indonesia. The Dutch were still recovering from their postcolonial syndrome and although they had started to realize that their time had passed, they were determined to hold on to what they called Netherlands New Guinea, and what Indonesia referred to as West Irian.

The debates at the UN centered on the topic of unfinished decolonization and the serious threat to world peace this posed. With the support of other Asian and Africa countries, Indonesian diplomats tirelessly argued before the General Assembly that West Irian was part of Indonesia as agreed during the Roundtable Conference in The Hague in 1949. Furthermore, they argued that the situation was detrimental to stability in the Southeast Asian region, calling on the UN to step in, as mandated by the UN Charter.
With the support of 14 countries, in 1954 Indonesia managed to table “The Question of West Irian” at the UNGA but it took another year before the UN General Assembly adopted it as Resolution 915(X) in 1955. The journey was far from over.
In the following years, Indonesia fought hard for the topic to be put on the agenda at the UNGA, with the support of 15 Asian and African nations, but failed. Australia was one of the countries that consistently voted against the proposal, whereas the United States opted for abstention — giving the Dutch leeway. This diplomatic failure led Sukarno to divert his energy to scale up the nation’s military capacity and, ultimately, launch an assault — Operation Trikora in 1961.
Not long after, the current provinces of Papua and West Papua were transferred to Indonesia after a brief period of UN administration. However, many people do not realize that until today, “Papua” remains an unresolved question.
Papuans have long appealed for a peaceful solution to the decades-old conflict in the easternmost part of the country. It has been a while since local church leaders declared Papua as a “Land of Peace” in 1998, following the bloody massacre of Biak, which remains unresolved. Filep Karma, who rose the Morning Star flag in Biak days before the massacre, remains in jail for doing the same thing in 2004.
The Papuan Peace Network has been trying to persuade Jakarta to engage in dialogue with Papuans since 2009. President B.J. Habibie’s administration told the 100 Papuan representatives to go home and rethink their call for independence. The administration of president Susilo Bambang Yudhyono held two separate meeting with Papuan church leaders and promised to organize a dialogue, which never happened. President Joko Widodo visited Papua after promising to improve the situation on the campaign trail.
But Papuans are still waiting.
While the national government is determined to revive the Bandung spirit of liberation by proposing a Declaration onPalestine, local police in Jayapura on April 8 arrested five Papuan leaders and charged them with treason even though they had only just returned home from a  meeting with Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. Papuan efforts to establish a dialogue are being criminalized. Charges remind us of the colonial time, when our founding fathers were persecuted for expressing their political positions.
Papuans are no longer placing their hopes in Asian and African countries, and some have started to shift their focus to the Pacific.
The Melanesian Spearhead Group has become a new forum to find a solution for Papua. During its 2013 summit, the MSG expressed concerns over the human rights situation in Papua and called on Indonesia to find a peaceful solution. The summit also discussed an application for membership from Papuan representatives, although a decision has been delayed. But in May, the MSG will again discuss the application during its summit in Honiara.
“The Question of West Irian” is still very much alive.
Budi Hernawan is a research fellow at the Abdurrahman Wahid Center for Interfaith Dialogue and Peace at the University of Indonesia (UI).


2) Priority or Not, Indonesia Happy to Host Vanuatu Embassy

Jakarta. Regardless of apparently conflicting statements from the Vanuatu government about the opening of an embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia appreciates the Pacific nation’s interest in the establishment of a diplomatic mission here, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
Spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir was asked to comment on a statement by Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman, who wasreported to have said, earlier this week, that the establishment of an embassy in Jakarta was not a priority.
Vanuatu Foreign Minister Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu, in Indonesia to attend the Asian-African Conference, on Monday did speak of plans to open an embassy, which immediately were welcomed by his Indonesian counterpart, Retno L.P. Marsudi, and then rebutted by Natuman.
Arrmanatha told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that the plans to strengthen ties were indeed discussed by the two foreign ministers, and that he didn’t think it would be right to comment on the internal political dynamics of another country.

Papua concerns
Natuman was quoted as saying by news portal that no decision had been made to open an embassy in Indonesia, and that his country was still focusing on reconstruction efforts after it was hit by a devastating cyclone in March.
“Every diplomatic policy from the Vanuatu government, such as opening an embassy in any country, including in Indonesia, has to be decided by the incumbent government,” Natuman said. “So far, the government never made any decision [to open an embassy in Jakarta].”
Natuman also said Vanuatu would need to take many aspects of its foreign relations into account before it would enhance diplomatic relations with Indonesia.
The Tabloidjubi report quoted Natuman as saying that the human rights situation in what he called “West Papua” — the Indonesian part of New Guinea — played a role in the considerations to open an embassy
“Our attention is on West Papua and how we fight together against every human rights violation that is faced by the people there,” he said. “Opening a Vanuatu embassy in Indonesia is not our priority.”
“Currently, Vanuatu also has a lot of work to do, especially after hurricane Pam,” Natuman added.
Hurricane Pam destroyed large parts of the island nation and left dozens dead, besides ruining crops and demolishing fishing fleets.
In early April, Indonesia sent $2 million worth of aid to help Vanuatu’s government relief efforts.

Melanesian Spearhead Group
Indonesia has been trying to boost its ties with Melanesian countries in the Pacific, ahead of a regional summit next month that may address possible Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Melanesia extends from Fiji to the Arafura Sea and is commonly thought to include Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Papua and the Maluku islands. The latter two are part of Indonesia.
Last year, a group of foreign affairs ministers of Melanesian countries visited Indonesia’s then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to pledge their support for Indonesia’s sovereignty over the provinces of Papua and West Papua, where government troops have been facing a low-intensity separatist campaign for decades.
However, the 2014 MSG pledge to respect Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua was boycotted by Vanuatu, a member of the regional grouping.
FRIDAY, 24 APRIL, 2015 | 09:52 WIB
3) Reconciliation for Human Right Cases Possible: Komnas HAM
TEMPO.COJakarta – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has called for both judicial settlement and reconciliation for the country’s seven major cases of human rights violations.
Komnas HAM commissioner Khoirun said reconciliation would be the final solution. “Ideally, we can have both, but if we can only solve [these cases] through reconciliation, we don’t mind. Both are equally good,” he told Tempo on Thursday.
Khoirun, however, hoped the ending of these cases would abide by three main principles: statements of truth, rehabilitation guarantee and that similar cases must not replay in the future. “These are our commitments,” he said. “We also want a joint team to be established immediately.”
The notion to resolve the seven cases of human rights violation via reconciliation surfaced in a recent meeting involving the Komnas HAM, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Police.
Another topic discussed in the meeting is the planned formation of a joint team comprising personnel from the Komnas HAM and the AGO, which among others will look into the 1965 Talangsari tragedy and the Wasior rioting in 2003. The team will be formed after the conclusion of the 2015 Asian-African summit.


4) Free West Papua rally in Nigeria

The campaign to push West Papuan independence from Indonesia continues to spread in Africa with a Free West Papua protest being held in Nigeria.
The protest outside the Indonesian Embassy in Lagos was organised by the Pan African Consciousness Resistance and follows a surge of support from South Africa for a Free West Papua.
A protestor at the event said that Africans support the rights of peoples whose right to self-determination has been denied.
"Like the people in West Papua. For us as pan-Africans, this is a global struggle, just like we waged against the apartheid regime in South Africa, just like we waged struggle against racism in America against African Americans..."
Meanwhile, Indonesia's government says West Papuans are experiencing more development in their region.
Jakarta is also making efforts to better recognise and promote Papuan culture with plans to host a major Melanesian culture and arts event in October.

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