Wednesday, May 13, 2015

1) ‘Associate member’ status for Indonesia in MSG

3) Interview with President Joko Widodo : Handling West Papua on Jokowi’s Way

4) Areki Wanimbo is first Papuan treason suspect to be acquitted in 14 years


1) ‘Associate member’  status for Indonesia in  MSG
Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post, Port Moresby | Headlines | Wed, May 13 2015, 1:17 PM - 
Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister Peter O’Neill expressed support on Tuesday for Indonesia’s inclusion as an “associate member” of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), deeming the plan as representative of a “unique understanding” between the two countries.

Indonesia, which achieved observer status at the MSG in 2011, has been stepping up efforts to acquire full membership.

The MSG is an inter-governmental organization comprising PNG, Vanuatu, Salomon Islands and Fiji. The main goal is to boost economic development within the Pacific Island states.

“We have also agreed about Papua New Guinea’s support for Indonesia becoming an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which PNG will gladly endorse and pursue with the other leaders of the Melanesian group,” O’Neill said on Tuesday during a joint press conference with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo after the two held bilateral talks.

O’Neill told Jokowi on Monday that application for membership by the ULMWP — which is a grouping of three West Papuan groups, namely the Federal Republic of West Papua, the West Papua National Parliament and the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) — would require Indonesia’s endorsement. 

Last year at the annual MSG Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby, the WPNCL’s membership application was rejected. The group, however , re-submitted its application at MSG headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in February, and is still awaiting response.

MSG leaders are expected to discuss the application in the Solomon Islands as the summit, which is planned for sometime in June or July. Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi is expected to attend the event as an observer.

With Indonesia’s status as an associate member, O’Neill added, Indonesians of Melanesian descent in Maluku, North Maluku, Papua, West Papua and East Nusa Tenggara would be able to participate in the region’s cultural and trade activities organized by the MSG.

Such participation is expected to further strengthen ties between Melanesian people in the region, particularly between PNG and Indonesia, which share a border, O’Neill said.

O’Neill also expressed PNG’s aim to boost access to the telecommunications, power generation and road infrastructure sectors in a bid to create business opportunities with Indonesia.

On Tuesday, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on combating transnational crime — which Jokowi said would cover narcotics and terrorism — and another MoU on human-resource development in the oil and energy sector.

“Prime Minister O’Neill and I agreed to build closer ties and create more intensive cooperation between Indonesia and PNG as part of our 40-year celebration of diplomatic relations [to be celebrated this year],” Jokowi said.

According to Jokowi, the two also agreed to improve economic cooperation, particularly with respect to investment and infrastructure, and to support the participation of the private sector in the energy, telecommunications and fisheries industries.

The two countries, Jokowi said, had also agreed to boost connectivity by encouraging the two countries’ national flag carriers — Garuda Indonesia (Indonesia) and Air Niugini (PNG) — to open routes connecting Port Moresby with Bali, Jakarta and Singapore. 

As part of his effort to pay greater attention to Indonesia’s poorly developed eastern provinces, Jokowi visited Maluku, North Maluku, Papua and West Papua before flying to PNG.

The President and his entourage left PNG on Tuesday and arrived in Surabaya, East Java, to attend the opening of the Democratic Party congress.

The MSG is an inter-governmental organization comprising PNG, Vanuatu, Salomon Islands and Fiji 


2) Why MSG must stand with West Papua

NEWS coming from the troubled and enclosed nation of West Papua over the weekend are historic.
Indonesian president Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo granted clemency to five political prisoners who have been serving various jail terms for their alleged role in a raid on an Indonesian Armed Forces weapons arsenal in Wamena on 4 April 2003.

The alleged raid resulted in the deaths of two Indonesian soldiers.

Mr Widodo released the prisoners while on a visit to West Papua, which Indonesia has illegally occupied for the last 52 years.

Also at the weekend, Mr Widodo announced West Papua would now be opened to foreign journalists.

Since its occupation of West Papua, Indonesia had shut off this part of the world from the international media, while its soldiers continued to mistreat and abuse the men, women, and children of West Papua.

Mr Widodod’s decision to open West Papua to the world is welcomed news and one the international media will be closely watching.

The decision shows years of pressure are finally starting to pay off.

The announcement represents a solid step forward for media, civil society and diplomacy - within Indonesia and around the world.

But critics have their doubts.

For the decisions come at the back of Indonesia’s executions of eight foreign drug smugglers, including two Australians, and what media groups described as deteriorating press freedoms in Indonesia.

There are still deep doubts, too, that Mr Widodo has the political power to enforce this promise, but the announcement alone represents a historic moment in decades of foreign oppression in Papua.

While these may be welcoming news, Melanesians must not lose sight of the continued struggle and suffering our wantoks in West Papua are going through and their aspiration for regional and global recognition.

An application from West Papuan leaders, seeking membership with the influential Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG), is with the MSG secretariat.

It will be decided on during the MSG Leaders Summit in July this year in Honiara.

As Melanesians, we have an obligation towards our brothers and sisters of West Papua. We must continue to stand with them in their struggle for independence.

We need to recognise their suffering and bring their predicament to the world’s attention.

The worst we could do is to turn our eyes and ears away from their plight.

West Papuans look to Melanesia for support, leadership, and inspiration.

There’s no reason why their application for membership shouldn’t be granted.

They are Melanesians so they deserve to be part of this great MSG family.
3) Interview with President Joko Widodo : Handling West Papua on Jokowi’s Way

Jayapura, Jubi – Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit to Papua from 9 – 10 May included a stop at Pasar Pharaa, traditional market, at Sentani, the launch of the Institute of Public Administration (IPDN)’s new building, a visit to Holtekamp Bridge, the launch of public insurance cards and the granting of pardon for five Papuan political prisoners. The day after, he continued his mission to Merauke, Manokwari and Papua New Guinea.
After the ceremony of clemency to five Papuan political prisoners at the Abepura Prison on Saturday (9/5/2015), Aljazeera had opportunity for exclusive interview with the President Joko Widodo held at VIP lounge of Abepura Prison. Aljazeera set the interview topic on the president’s next step after the pardon granting, Jakarta – Papua Dialogue and the access for foreign journalists in Papua.
Here are excerpts from Aljazeera’s interview with Jokowi, summarized by Jubi:
- What the next step after the release of the five political prisoners?
President Jokowi : We must open a new chapter. All of us. So, we freed the (political) prisoners and invited them to develop Papua as land of peace.
- There’s a lot of political prisoners in Papua and Ambon, will you free them all?
President Jokowi : Yes, all of them. We’ve just started. After this we will release all political prisoners and invite them to develop Papua, Maluku and Indonesia as well.
- What is the best way to release them?
President Jokowi : If they filed clemency requests, we can approve it within two weeks. But if they asked for amnesty, it must have approval from Parliament first. So it’s up to them. If they wanted a pardon, it’s prompt action. But if they wanted an amnesty, they should wait the parliament’s approval. But I don’t know whether the parliament will approve it or not.
- The political prisoners want an amnesty but they were granted with a pardon. According to them, it should be an agreement.
President Jokowi : No. This is my idea, not theirs (political prisoners). They could agree on it, because it’s my idea and I the one who granted it.
- What is this clemency for them also means rehabilitation?
President Jokowi : Yes automatically. It means they have already free and automatically been rehabilitated. I’ve been confirmed about such problems. I have asked the vice governor to assist them for solution, whether it is related to the problem of work or health problem. If it couldn’t deal with it, I will directly handle it from Jakarta.
- It might be confusion among the political prisoners whether they will receive a pardon or amnesty. One of them said he is disappointed as he thought he might get an amnesty.
President Jokowi : No. We have explained it. I thought they already knew that the clemency is the president’s initiative, not theirs.
- Does it mean they are free from all charges that prior accused to them?
President Jokowi : Yes, they are. They have granted (a pardon).
- Some people are assuming that it is only for self-imaging?
President Jokowi : No. We have prepared this since December last year. We have talked with everyone in here. But, indeed it needs time. It requires several stages and we want all of them to be released. But we couldn’t make it. We could only release five persons. That’s it. We expect it could be applied for all prisoners at the next stage. We want it’s all done promptly.
- Papuan leaders want a dialogue with the government, which is at this stage you are the president. Will you conduct a political dialogue with the people of Papua?
President Jokowi : No more problems in Papua. What is dialogue for? I’ve often come here and talked with the customary leaders, religious leaders, regents, and the mayor as well. What is that mean? It’s a dialogue, isn’t it?
- But it’s all about the development and economy, not about politic or political situation?
President Jokowi : Yes, our politic in Papua is the politic of development, politic of welfare.
- You are not talking about the past? The problems encountered by Papuans in the past?
President Jokowi : It’s closed. We must open the new chapter. We must look ahead. .
- What about the access for foreign journalist in Papua?
President Jokowi : Starting from tomorrow (Sunday,10/5) we open the access for foreign journalist. No problem.
- It means special permit is not required anymore?
President Jokowi : What else? Needs a permit from Jakarta? No, no, no!
- And from Clearing house?
President Jokowi : Yes, it requires or not?
- Foreign journalists have permit to work in Indonesia, but if they want to come to Papua, they need a special permit.
President Jokowi : No, no, no!
- So, there would no clearing house?
President Jokowi : No!
- So starting tomorrow the foreign journalist is free to come to Papua? 
President Jokowi : Go ahead.
- Are you sure? 
President Jokowi : Yes I am. I have said this to the officials here in Papua. I’ve talked to ministers, officials at the Indonesian Police, Military. All of them. Isn’t it enough?
- What about the resolution of Paniai case (the shooting against four students in Enarotali)
President Jokowi : I’ll give the answer later. If I answer it now it could eclipse the granting of pardon issue.
– Thank you
(Victor Mambor/rom)

4) Areki Wanimbo is first Papuan treason suspect to be acquitted in 14 years

Today, Papuan political detainee Areki Wanimbo was acquitted of conspiracy to commit treason and released from prison, after spending over nine months in detention in West Papua, Indonesia. Mr Wanimbo, an indigenous tribal leader and local teacher was arrested in Wamena in the Central Highlands of West Papua, alongside two French journalists who had travelled to the resource-rich region to investigate one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
Mr Wanimbo was arrested on 6 August 2014 when the journalists he was meeting attracted the attention of intelligence agents. Due to the de-facto ban on foreign media in West Papua, Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois had entered the region using tourist visas. As they met locals in and around Wamena, they soon fell under police suspicion and were arrested alongside Mr Wanimbo. Following their arrest, rather than being deported as most commentators expected, Bourrat and Dandois were prosecuted under immigration charges and sentenced to 2.5 months’ imprisonment.
While the trial of the two French journalists was over in a matter of days, Mr Wanimbo’s trial was subject to lengthy and repeated delays.
Finally released from his cell, Mr Wanimbo will now be able to return to his wife and family, as well as his students whose studies have been on hold during his incarceration. The acquittal is a triumph for Wanimbo’s legal defence team, who braved considerable risks to provide a legal defence, including a knife attack on Ms Latifah Anum Siregar.
“In the history of political trials in Papua, this the first time in 14 years that a treason suspect has been acquitted; the last time was the case of Theys Eluay. This verdict is a real step forward,” said Latifah Anum Siregar of Mr Wanimbo’s defence team.
Although Mr Wanimbo has been released, the prosecutor has stated his intention to appeal the verdict to Indonesia’s Supreme Court. Wanimbo therefore remains at risk of re-incarceration should the appeal be successful.
TAPOL welcomes the acquittal of Areki Wanimbo, and calls on President Jokowi to order the immediate and unconditional release of all Papuan political prisoners, and lift the media blackout in West Papua.

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