Jayapura. Police in West Papua detained 70 activists rallying in support of West Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) on Wednesday.
Dozens of protestors, including students and members of pro-independence group the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), took to the streets of provincial capital Manokwari.
At least 70 members of the KNPB were arrested during the rally and are being questioned by police, the group’s spokesman Sarpas Mbisikmbk said.
Sarpas said protestors had gathered to show support for the MSG bid of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULM).
The ULM, which is made up of the KNPB, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation and the Federal Republic of West Papua, was formed late last year. It is seeking full membership of the MSG, an inter-governmental grouping of Melanesian states.
Papua Police Spokesman Adj. Sr . Cmr. Harapan Sitorus said the protesters did not have a permit to rally and they would be questioned to find out “which group they belonged to.”
Police believe the KNPB is affiliated to the armed Free Papua Movement (OPM), which has staged a low-level insurgency against Jakarta’s rule over Papua since the province was annexed by Indonesia in 1969.
THE country could gain significant economic benefits if it supports West Papua’s submission for membership in one of the regional’s powerful body, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The sentiments were echoed by West Papua’s Independence activist and member of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Jacob Rumbiak, in an exclusive interview last week.
Rumbiak who is once- upon- a- time a political prisoner and also an academic said, West Papua is rich in terms of natural resources.
He said, these resources could be shared with Melanesian countries through economic agreements if MSG members admitted West Papua into MSG.
Rumbiak revealed that the Copper mine Freeport in West Papua earns a total of USD250 billion annually and of that sum USD14 billion is paid every year as tax to Jakarta, Indonesia.
Rumbiak said, these big monies can benefit Solomon Islands and the Pacific region if the MSG members consider West Papua’s submission for membership of the MSG and the body to advocate for West Papua’s fight for Independence in the international arena.
Rumbiak added that the Freeport Copper Mine is just one of the many resources in West Papua.
The former freedom fighter said, natural resources are in abundance in other areas of West Papua, this including in Fulmamora, Arianta, Maloku and Papua.
Rumbiak, however, strongly added that these resources can only be tapped for the benefit of the MSG countries if West Papuans are in control of their sovereignty, dignity and liberty.
But Independent activist also stated that resources in Melanesia, let alone in West Papua, can be tapped if Melanesians are in control of their own sovereignty, dignity and liberty.
Rumbiak reiterated his call to the Prime Minister, Honorable Manasseh Sogavare, to vote for West Papua’s bid for membership citing it was the right thing to do.
Meanwhile a local group advocating for West Papua’s admittance into MSG and eventual Independence, the Solomon Islands Solidarity Movement for West Papua (SISMWP), has called on PM Sogavare to vote for West Papua’s bid for MSG’s membership.
The SISMWP strongly stated that the country’s vote for West Papua’s admittance as an MSG member is a moral obligation in light of the country’s fervent opposition to human rights violations.
Indonesia is amongst few of the countries in the world that continue to violate human rights and yet is shunned by so- called human rights advocators such as USA, England, Australia and New Zealand.
3) Trans-Papua Highway: Economic development versus conservation
Freddy Pattiselanno and Agustina Y.S. Arobaya, Manokwari | Opinion | Thu, May 21 2015, 7:27 AM -In his four-day trip to Papua and West Papua, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo promised to complete the construction of the Trans-Papua highway, which has been postponed due to various reasons since its start in 2013. He compared the differences among the western, middle and eastern parts of Indonesia and said that when the infrastructure was built, commodity prices in Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua would be more equal. “The gap will no longer be as big as we see right now,” he said.
The aims of road construction have been widely discussed. Economists have written extensively about the link between roads and market access and economic growth, as well as the health of households and national economies in most developing nations. Most economists love roads — seeing them as a cost-effective way to promote economic growth, encourage regional trade and provide access to natural resources and land suitable for agriculture.
Focusing on food is vital because with continuing rapid population growth and changing human diets, global food demand is expected to double by 2050. Roads affect food, especially in Papua where new regencies are being developed and are populated by small-scale farmers who produce much less food than they could if they had new or better roads. Such roads could give them ready access to fertilizers, modern farming methods and urban markets to sell their crops.
External investments in agriculture have been the main driver of the economy in both Papua and West Papua provinces. The agricultural sector is the main source of employment, providing jobs for the locals.
However, roads pose a particularly challenging problem, because a poorly planned road can be devastating. Roads cutting through delicate ecosystems have been linked to deforestation, pollution, invasions of exotic species and wildfires. For wildlife, a road can create a barrier that may be deadly to cross, keeping animals away from food and potential mates, or it can provide easier access to illegal hunting that threatens endangered species.
How do we learn from the road development program in other parts of Indonesia?
The extension of the 2,508.5-kilometer road network in Sumatra has increased human-wildlife conflicts that have led to an increase in the number of human victims, at the same time reducing the population of the endangered Sumatran tiger and other wildlife species.
In Kalimantan, the development of Malinau at the edge of the Kayan Mentarang National Park has also destroyed large areas of wildlife habitat, and threatened nomadic and large vertebrates, such as Malayan sun bear, the bearded pig and the orangutan.
In the island of Sulawesi, improvements to the highway connection between North Sulawesi and other provinces of Sulawesi, such as Gorontalo and Central Sulawesi, have also led to an increase in the importation of wild meat from other forest landscapes of Sulawesi for wildlife market demand in Manado and Minahasa. Consequently, the pressure of hunting on wildlife populations, such as the babirusa, anoa, flying foxes and other mammal species, has escalated over time.
Our survey along the coast of the Bird’s Head Peninsula found that the 571-km stretch of the Trans-West Papua Highway along the coast has split pristine forests and increased the trading of wildlife from remote villages into the nearest market towns. However, despite the tremendous expectations and vast investment in the road development, communities in the region still live below the poverty line. Road improvement is expected to help farmers in transporting their agriculture produce to urban markets. Regrettably, they have to struggle with the upsurge in transportation costs of getting the mass products to the markets.
To further complicate the issue, the impacts from deforestation and poorly planned coastal development such as landscape changes because of road expansion, mining, logging and commercial plantations have increased flooding, erosion and the run-off of topsoil to coastlines and created beach modifications that threaten marine environments including the Abun Regional Marine Protected Area. We believe that some land conversions are needed and unavoidable. Land conversion, including road development, is vital to make room for economic activities. There is no doubt that road access will have significant effects on efforts to fight rural poverty. But it must be followed by other strategic plans related to affordable transportation.
We need to sensitize political decision-makers, economists, infrastructure planners and the general public about the myriad environmental costs of road expansion, especially into intact forests.
Improved environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for planned roads must be conducted. In many developing nations, EIAs focus solely on the roads themselves, completely ignoring the knock-on effects. Otherwise, new roads will continue to drive rainforest destruction so long as the EIA process is so fundamentally flawed.
It is also urgent that local government agencies improve their overall coordination for development planning. For example, institutions like the Public Works Agency, Regional Environmental Board, Conservation of Natural Resources Bureau and Forestry Agency need to sit together in order to plan further for road expansion. Furthermore, relevant regulations need to be implemented and strengthened law enforcement is needed to encourage better extraction industry practices, such as in logging and mining.
Finally, Bill Laurance, a conservation biologist at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, leading a group of researchers or “Road Warriors” from Harvard, Cambridge, Melbourne, Minnesota, Sheffield and James Cook universities and the Conservation Strategy Fund published A Global strategy for road building, which lists regions that should stay road-free, those where roads would be most useful and those where there is likely to be conflict between the competing interests of human development and protecting nature.
This should be considered as a guide for future road development. ____________________________
The writers are lecturers at the Animal Science Department and Forestry Department of the State University of Papua (UNIPA), Manokwari -