1) Bali nine executions highlight Australia's hypocrisy on the death penalty
Australia is up in arms over Indonesia's execution of the Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. And rightly so: the death penalty is abhorrent and must be abolished. Australia agreed to this long ago: we abolished it in 1973. My thoughts and sympathy are with the families of the two Australians executed on Wednesday. I cannot imagine how I would feel if it had been one of my brothers.
Australia is right to raise an objection – and right to exercise diplomatic protection over Australians in trouble abroad. Both Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, typically, unanimously, expressed their outrage. We even withdrew our ambassador to Indonesia in protest.
But if only Australia's outrage at the death penalty (that is, execution after due process) was principled and consistent, that is, it extended to our friends and allied nations like the United States, which executed 35 people last year alone.
And if only Australia's outrage at the death penalty was directed at Indonesia's execution of West Papuans without due process. Hundreds of thousands of West Papuans have been murdered by Indonesia's security services. Without the benefit of legal defence or their day in court, West Papuans are killed on mere suspicion or, worse, for simply expressing a political opinion. Headlines about the execution of the Bali nine pair screamed that Jokowi has blood on his hands – but we only care if it's Australian blood. No one seems to care when it's our Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel friends and Anzac allies just 300 kilometres north of our shores.
If we, as Australians, are opposed to the death penalty, shouldn't we also be outraged about the fact that Australia is accused of providing financial, operational and forensic assistance to Indonesian "death squads" in West Papua? As the ABC has reported, an elite counter-terrorism unit called Detachment 88, funded and equipped by Australia, has been involved in tortures and killings in West Papua as part of operations by the Indonesian authorities to stamp out the West Papuan independence movement and assassinate its leaders.
The simple fact is: we are against the death penalty in Indonesia when it's applied to our citizens with due process. We will even recall our ambassador in protest to make sure voters at home know this and see that objection. But we aren't against Indonesians killing West Papuans without any due process. In fact, we will help Indonesia to kill them by providing training and support to their "death squads" - and our ambassador will be celebrated in Jakarta for it. At least, when he is allowed to go back.
If we, as Australians, are so outraged about the death penalty, shouldn't we be conducting an inquiry about the role of our own police in tipping off Indonesian authorities about the Bali nine, when they were fully aware of the consequences under Indonesian law, as one AFP police chiefs admitted in a 2006 interview?
And if we, as Australians, were really against the death penalty and actually cared about governments putting people to death – in Indonesia or
elsewhere – we would oppose it, whether it was with due process or (worse) without it. And we certainly wouldn't let our police or our overseas aid budget support it.
Jennifer Robinson is an Australian human rights lawyer.
Jayapura. President Joko Widodo is slated to make a second visit to the restive provinces of Papua and West Papua next weekend to launch several development projects.
Joko will be in the region for four days. The upcoming visit will be the second since he took office last October, following his tour of Papua in December in conjunction with Christmas celebrations.
“The president is slated to arrive in Papua on May 8,” said Brig. Gen. Supartogi, the chief of the military command in Merauke district, one of the places that Joko will visit in Papua.
He added that Joko would tour Indonesia’s easternmost provinces after a visit to Ambon, the capital of the nearby Maluku islands province.
As part of his Papuan tour, the president will visit two traditional markets in Jayapura, including Pasar Prahara in Sentani, which he also visited in December and which is currently undergoing a revamp. He said then that he wanted to support traditional markets.
In Jayapura, Joko is also slated to launch the construction of a bridge and facilities for the 2020 National Games, or PON, which will be held in Papua.
He will also attend the opening of a new public administration school in the provincial capital.
In Merauke, Joko will join a harvest festival and will depart for West Papua’s capital, Manokwari, later the same day, May 10, to launch the construction of a petrochemical factory and a power plant.
On the fourth day, Joko will be in Sorong to kick off the installation of fiber optic cables by state-owned telecommunications firm Telkom and to inaugurate Sorong’s new status as a National Strategic Tourism Zone.
Sorong is best known as the main departure point for visitors to the Raja Ampat islands, an increasingly popular and upmarket diving destination for international tourists.
Joko is scheduled to fly back to Jakarta on May 11.
3) Rights Group and Family Seek Whereabouts of Rebel Leader’s Body
Nabire, Jubi – Human rights activists urged the police and military to immediately inform the family of rebel eader Leonardus Magai Yogi’s body the location
of his body after he was shot dead by security forces at Kampung Sanoba Atas, Nabire Sub-district on Thursday (30/4/2015).
John NR. Gobai, the coordinator of Papua and Jakarta Humanitarian Workers (PKPJ) also asked the police and the military to provide access to his organisation
to see three members of the Free Papua Movement/Papua National Forces who were shot and currently hospitalized in Nabire Public Hospital. “I ask you to give the access to humanitarian workers and priests as well as their families to see them who are currently treated in RSUD (Public Hospital) Nabire or any kind of hospital and took the corpses of those who passed away regardless of what they’ve done before,” John NR Gobay told Jubi by phone from Enarotali on Sunday (3/5/2015).
He the demand was not only made by the humanitarian workers and their families, but it was also an agreement of GKI and GKIP synods because the members of West Papua Liberation Army are also God’s creatures who have rights to be supported and strengthened in God. “If they are died, where were they been buried? They shall be buried in respective to their faith. Since the day he was shot until today, 3 May 2015, his family does not know where the corpse of Paniai Region TPN/OPM Commander Leonardus Magai Yogi is. Thus, his family and PKPJ asked to the Papua Police Chief, Military Commander and Papua Brigade Mobile Unit Chief to hand over his corpse for burial,” Gobai said.
He further said, similar with another cases such as convicted drugs cases, the shooting of late Kelly Kwalik, Mako Tabuni and others, this case shouldn’t be hide. “It’s clear enough, the information said someone was shot dead. But where is he now? We cannot see his face. Where is his body? The officers please not hide this, we asked them to show his body because his family and humanitarian workers as well as the priest want to give him a funeral. If he was buried, please show us his grave,” he said.
Meanwhile, in separate place, Mabipai (46), a victim’s family, told Jubi at RSUD Nabire that he departed from Enarotali, Paniai Regency to Nabire to check the Yogi’s corpse. He traveled about 320 kilometers by land transportation from Enarotali. “I came from Enarotali to check the corpse and take it for burial. But as long as I arrived at RSUD Nabire, I wasn’t allowed to go to ICU room. In fact I was threatened with a weapon,” Mabupai said on Friday (1/5) at RSUD Nabire.
He explained the family regretted about the issue telling the Yogi was buried without a notice to his family because his family has full responsibility to treat his body and give him a funeral to honor him. “I do not understand the Police/Military’s ways of thinking. How could they treat him as if he was never existed? Is it the country called Indonesia, the country that has regulation? It’s sucked,” he said. (Abeth You/rom)
4) Students In Papua Not Familiar of National Heroes
Jayapura, Jubi – Students in Papua admitted that they were not familiar with national heroes of Papua origin who have been recognized by the government for their role in liberating West Papua.
The phenomenon was revealed when hundreds of people gathered at Taman Imbi, Jayapura City to celebrate 52 years after West Papua joined Indonesia on May 1. The celebration however did not appear to be genuine.
A high school 10th grade student in Jayapura City, Dechard P Ruhmakioto, said he knew about national heroes of Papuan orgin but he just didn’t know their details. “I only know there are three national heroes of Papua origin. They are Frans Kaisiepo, Marthen Indey and Papare,” he told Jubi in Abepura.
Meanwhile, another high school student in Jayapura City, Yunita P. Kesaulia, similarly said she recognized only three national heroes of Papua origin, which she learned from school. “They are Marthen Indey, Silas Papare and Frans Kaisepo. That’s all I learned from school,” she said.
She further said they are the great heroes. They had merit to the Indonesian people; therefore we should study and work hard to give honor to their sacrifice.
The university student Maria even does not know about the national heroes of Papua origin except the Papuan leading figures. “I don’t know and don’t remember who they are. But I knew Goliat Tabuni, Theys Eluay, Bucthar Tabuni and Mako Tabuni who shot dead at Waena. But I don’t know the others,” she told Jubi at Waena.
Meanwhile, a high school’s history teacher in Jayapura City, Alfonsia P Onim, said she always teaches her students about Indonesian nationalism and the figures of national hero who died in battle for this republic. “Through such lesson they had at school, the students are expected to recognize the heroes’ sacrifice and honor the independence they fought for by being loyal to this country,” she said.
For information, the national heroes of Papua origin are Silas Papare, Frans Kaisiepo, Marthen Indey and J. Abraham Dimara. (Arnold Belau/rom)
5) Silenced Democracy, Civil Emergency for West Papua
Protest by Indonesian, urged President of Indonesia to open humanitarian access to West Papua – Jubi
Jayapura, Jubi – The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) said it strongly condemned the brutal and inhuman acts carried out by security forces against students and activists who support the liberation of West Papua during the demonstration against the annexation of Papua nation into the Republic of Indonesia on 1 May.
“Human rights and democracy in West Papua are at its lowest because the Indonesian colonial government through its apparatus has deprived the rights of civil society to gather, organize and express their aspirations. Critical voices and independent media are totally banned,” Napi Awom of WPNCL said at a press conference on Saturday (02/5/2015) at Elsham Papua Office
The Government of Indonesia has silenced democracy and closed access to free specch in West Papua to force Papuans to accept the concept of nationalism of the colonial authority by putting down their slogan ‘United Indonesia, at any cost’.
Meanwhile, Simen Alua of National West Papua Parliament added reducing the right to freedom expression and imposition of the concept of Indonesian nationalism are continuously applied through detention of hundreds of demonstrators and forced dissolution against the peace demonstration by the people of Papua in the entire land of West Papua and outside of West Papuan territorial.
“Yesterday, when West Papuan civil society held a peace demonstration against 52nd Indonesian colonialism in West Papua on 1 May 2015, the state’s apparatus brutally arrested and disbanded this action and enforced the people to accept their ideology. Their acts were not dignified, inhuman and violated the human rights,” Alua firmly said.
He further said the Government of Indonesia must stop pushing its concept of nationalism towards the people of West Papua through the slogan ‘United Indonesia, at any cost’ because Papuan people have right on self-determination which is verified and guaranteed in the preamble of Indonesian Constitution, UN Declaration on Human Rights and international covenants on civil, politic, economic and culture rights, and UN Declaration on Indigenous People Rights. ‘We urged the Government of Indonesia to release the West Papuan politic prisoners and the human right activists and pro-democracy organizations in West Papua, Indonesia and worldwide to do the immediate, accurate and continual humanitarian advocacy because West Papua is now leading a status of Civil Emergency to Martial Law,” he said.
In addition, the BUK Papua Coordinator Peneas Lokbere regretted the police/military officers’ act that was very brutal against the Papuan civlians. “They have not even held the rally when the officers interrupted and arrested them. The officers were fully equipped as if it was a war,” he said.
Further BUK Papua and KontraS Papua expected this incident could be an official evaluation towards the Police/Military repressive act in Papua because it wasn’t the first time but repeatedly occurred in Papua. (Agus Pabika/rom)
6) Churches in Tanah Papua Seek Justice, Peace and Stability
Jayapura, Jubi – Amidst intimidation, illegal arrests, disappearances, torture and killings in Tanah Papua resulting from tensions between the Indonesian authorities and the Papuan pro-liberation groups, churches seek justice, peace, dignity and security for the Papuans.
The conflict in Tanah Papua (West Papua) has cost the lives of thousands since the late 1960s. A former Dutch colony placed under the United Nations administration in 1962, the region was unilaterally annexed by Indonesia and since then has experienced pro-independence insurgency. In 1969 Tanah Papua was formally incorporated into Indonesia, becoming Irian Jaya province.
Jan Bastian Rumbrar, ecumenical relations officer at the Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua (GKITP) – a member church of the World Council of Churches (WCC) said, “The GKITP formed in 1958 following over 101 years of mission work laid down by German and Dutch missionaries, was tested with political dispute between Indonesia and the Dutch over the territory called Dutch New Guinea.”
“The human as well as spiritual development of communities at that time met with despair as preparation for an independent church was not followed by political independence for the Papuans who are the indigenous inhabitants of the territory,” he adds.
On the contrary, Rumbrar says, oppression followed the integration of the territory into Indonesia on 1 May 1963 under the United States brokered New York Agreement.
While human rights violations have continued in the region, Rumbrar explains that the churches have played a strong role of being the “salt and light” (Matthew 5: 13-16) in a true biblical sense.
While human rights violations have continued in the region, Rumbrar explains that both Catholic and Protestant churches in Tanah Papua have voiced their cries, but little has been heard.
Concern over human right violations
Dr Fransina Yoteni, member of the WCC Central Committee from Tanah Papua and Rev. Alberth Yoku, chairperson of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI-TP) underlined how difficult the situation in Tanah Papua remains. Human rights violations have been documented by the international organizations. Substantial actions are yet to be taken to end the violence against Papuans, they say.
These church leaders tell how economic impoverishment, inadequate health care and education systems and exploitation of resources have caused social and environmental degradation. They stress that development in Tanah Papua is only benefitting the political elite instead of common people.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said, “The people of West Papua have been denied their basic human rights, including their right to self-determination. Their cry for justice and freedom has fallen largely on deaf ears.”
The WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who visited Tanah Papua in 2012, said upon his return, “We support the struggle for human rights of the people of Papua. We urge an end to the on-going violence and impunity. We support the call for social and economic justice through serious dialogue and a concrete political process.”
The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has played a key role in demanding justice for the Papuan people. Supporting the struggle for justice and liberation from all forms of oppression, including from colonial legacies in the Pacific, have been longstanding mandates of the PCC. The PCC now strives to be more prophetic in advocating for the Papuan people in these very struggles.
“In the past few years, the PCC has sought to engage church leaders, fellow civil society, faith-based groups, governments and political leaders in the region not merely to raise awareness about, but more importantly to encourage concerted action against the oppression under Indonesian administration,” said François Pihaatae, PCC general secretary and member of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.
“The PCC has renewed its commitment to accompany the Papuans inside Tanah Papua in their struggle against a daily oppressive reality and to contribute to breaking through their isolation,” Pihaatae added.
Yet advocacy efforts by the churches can be a challenge. Jan Rumbrar shares that any move by the churches can be considered either pro-independence or anti-government, that can lead to stigma that can result into accusation of treason and therefore imprisonment.
Rev. Benny Giay of the Evangelical Papua Church describes situation of churches in Tanah Papua like “sweet potatoes growing between two stones” – on the one hand, the desire of Papuan people for self-determination, and on the other hand, the determination of the Indonesian government to retain control.
Investment in dialogue and peace process
In 2011, local church leaders met with Indonesia’s then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to promote a peaceful solution for Tanah Papua. The church leaders handed over a letter to the president asking to have a dialogue with the Papun. They also asked Yudhoyono for stopping the Matoa Operation in Paniai, Papua, which caused 14 deaths and burning of villages in 2011. At the time Yudhoyono welcomed such a dialogue, yet shared his concerns regarding the territorial integrity of Indonesia.
To aid the peace process, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) has also establised a Papua Desk in Jakarta which undertakes research and advocacy on issues concerning Tanah Papua.
To support peace initiatives in Tanah Papua, the WCC Executive Committee issued a statement in 2012. The document urges the Indonesian authorities to take necessary steps to “release the political prisoners, to lift the ban on peaceful assembly of Papuans and to demilitarize Tanah Papua” and “enter into dialogue with indigenous Papuan people and to take adequate measures to protect their rights”.