Thursday, May 14, 2015

1) Papua New Guinea Welcomes Indonesia's Move to Join Melanesian Group

2)  Giving foreign journalists  access to Papua is ‘reactive’ 
3) Joko’s new strategies to engage Papua  
4) Sarmi regent flown to Jakarta
5) News release Are Jokowi’s Papua moves merely savvy media stunts?
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 1) Papua New Guinea Welcomes Indonesia's Move to Join Melanesian Group
World | Agence France-Presse | Updated: May 14, 2015 13:53 IST
SYDNEY:  Papua New Guinea Thursday welcomed Indonesian President Joko Widodo's plan to join a Melanesian intergovernment group, calling it a historic move that will improve relations with the ethnic population in Papua.

The move came days after Widodo lifted decades-old reporting restrictions for foreign journalists in Papua and ordered the release of a group of political prisoners in the insurgency-hit province.

"This will be historic and a new level of engagement and opportunity for economic and cultural relations with more than 11 million Melanesians in Indonesia," PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said during a trip to Sydney.

The Indonesian leader visited PNG earlier this week.

O'Neill said his nation had "no visibility of what is happening in West Papua", so the Indonesian application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group was "very important".

"I think it is a major step by any Indonesian president to allow this process to begin and I think we should take advantage of it and continue the dialogue with them and see where it goes," he added.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group has Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the French overseas territory of New Caledonia's independence movement FLNKS as members.

It was formed in 1986 to support the decolonisation process and help regional liberation groups, but has since evolved into a regional body discussing trade and security issues.

Widodo's move to remove reporting restrictions in Papua is seen as a sign he is easing the tight grip that Jakarta has long kept on the mineral-rich province, where poorly armed fighters have for years fought a low-level insurgency against the central government.

Widodo has taken a keen interest in Papua, pledging to improve livelihoods in the heavily-militarised area which lags behind other parts of Indonesia in terms of development.

Five political prisoners convicted over a 2003 raid on an Indonesian military weapons arsenal were granted clemency by Widodo.

There are still regular bouts of violence in Papua, where insurgents are fighting on behalf of the mostly ethnic Melanesian population.

Jakarta took control of Papua, which forms half of the island of New Guinea, in 1963 from former colonial power the Netherlands.
  
Story First Published: May 14, 2015 13:53 IST

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The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Thu, May 14 2015, 10:52 PM - 
2)  Giving foreign journalists  access to Papua is ‘reactive’ 
A House of Representatives lawmaker says President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decision to revoke tight requirements applied to foreign journalists wanting to report on Papua is a reactive move.
The member of House Commission I overseeing defense, foreign affairs and information, Sukamta, said Jokowi’s policy was aimed only at responding to international pressure regarding the arrest of two French journalists, namely Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, for allegedly violating their stay permits in Wamena, Papua, last year.
“The approach taken by Jokowi was a reactive approach, instead of a substantive one,” said Sukamta as quoted by kompas.com in a statement in Jakarta on Thursday.
He said President Jokowi’s administration often took reactive policies, including on the handling of foreign news coverage in Papua.
Sukamta called on President Jokowi to first focus his policies on efforts to improve people’s prosperity in Papua.
“Once the government is successful in building a prosperity approach in Papua, that will be the time for foreign journalists to freely report on Papua,” said the Prosperous Justice Party politician.
Sukamta reminded Jokowi that there was no guarantee that by giving journalists free access to cover Papua, they would uphold journalistic ethics in the form of balanced reporting.
“Even in a restrictive media coverage environment, many foreign media outlets have violated journalism principles, cornering Indonesia over Papua-related issues in the international community. Something worse might happen if they are now granted free access to report on Papua,” said Sukamta.
Previously, journalists wishing to enter Papua had to fill out a request permission form that required the approval of various government institutions.
Sukamta also feared that providing free media access in Papua at an improper time would lead to mounting pressure to hold a referendum in the region. (fsu/ebf)(+++)

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3) Joko’s new strategies to engage Papua  
BY EMIRZA ADI SYAILENDRA - 14 MAY 2015 @ 12:00 PM



Joko’s new strategies to engage Papua BY EMIRZA ADI SYAILENDRA - 14 MAY 2015 @ 12:00 PM PRESIDENT Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has affirmed that special attention would be given to the Papua region comprising the two provinces of Papua and
West Papua. The region has endured a low-level guerrilla insurgency from a militant Papuan independence movement since 1969. Under the nationalist doctrine of Trisakti, the new policy will focus on bolstering capacities to bring about greater security to the conflict-prone and outermost areas, such as Papua. The two provinces had significantly contributed to Jokowi’s victory in the 2014 presidential election. Owing to the trust that Papuans have for him, Jokowi has scheduled three visits a year to that region. Jokowi is aware that Papua is of strategic importance to Indonesia and it cannot afford to lose Papua like it did Timor-Leste in 1999. Papua is one of the richest regions in natural resources. Its forests are the largest in Indonesia, accounting for more than 32 million ha, while as much as 45 per cent of national copper reserves are located in Papua. It has also huge strategic value for

Indonesia’s defence, being perceived as a buffer against foreign intrusion by countries, such as Australia and the United States, that have raised their presence in the southwest Pacific, and potential intrusion from the north, such as illegal fishing boats coming from the Philippines. Security-wise, threats posed by armed criminals, referred to by the authorities as Armed Criminal Groups (KKB), are growing. One of the common threats towards the economy are the fundraising activities by the KKB to extort special autonomy funds that are distributed to the local government, especially in the mountain areas such as Puncak Jaya, Paniai and Ilaga. The threat from separatists referred to as Political Criminal Groups (KKP) is equally, if not more, worrying. The authorities have forbidden the use of the separatists’ insignia, but in the democratic setting of Indonesia, it is increasingly difficult to curb the political movement. Press releases and religiously related activities are the common methods of domestic activists with the main goal to converge perceptions towards independence. Such efforts have been done along with international lobbies to internationalise the conflict.

The Jokowi administration has sought to combine two strategies: building welfare and building a military presence. In terms of improving welfare, Jokowi has plans to establish three Ocean Toll Roads in Sorong, Jayapura and Marauke. Sorong has been selected as the first location for a deep sea port facility as the gateway to Papua and is expected to reduce the cost of developing infrastructure in the region. Jokowi’s other project is to build Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Indonesia, including in Papua. Two SEZs will be initiated in Merauke and Sorong, as well as the industrial region at Teluk Bintuni and a tourism region at Raja Ampat. The economic measures will be accompanied by the expansion of the territorial military structure to the region. The Indonesian Army has confirmed that the establishment of military district command (Kodam) in Manokwari, West Papua, will be accelerated this year.


The Eastern Region Fleet command base is being shifted to Sorong. TNI has also been planning to set up a third division of the Army Strategic Command as well as the third division of Air Force Operational Command in Sorong. Although the territorial structure has been criticised as potentially bringing back New Order-style military intervention, it is expected to help maintain Indonesia’s sovereignty over the restive region. The rules of engagement are not balanced: the KKB have the ability to sporadically attack the security apparatus whenever they want, but the security apparatus must play by democratic rules. In this asymmetric setting, the Jokowi administration is aware that winning the hearts of the locals and building domestic resilience is the most important approach. To achieve this, a new programme called serbuan teritorial or “territorial invasion” is to be intensified.

Although it sounds like a hostile measure, the core of the programme is to increase military social functions and to improve its image among locals. Thirteen memoranda of understanding have been secured with various ministries, such as for agriculture and transportation. Various community projects to empower the locals are set to be implemented, led by the Kodam in collaboration with local government, related state agencies and leaders of various ethnic groups. Some activities have been implemented, such as the planting of padi early this year.  A potential peril of the project is that it could easily turn into patronising state projects that would further aggravate the feeling of angst towards the national government. Upholding democratic principles, therefore, is very important. One of the potential fault lines that require special attention is cultural misunderstanding towards the complexities of Papuan culture.

 It could be manifested in the form of resistance towards transmigrants and foreign immigrants; or feuds and attacks on the local inhabitants. Thus, exposure to Papuan culture is needed to promote better understanding, and hinder ethnocentrism and stereotyping of Papuans. The Jokowi government should give them the attention they desperately need — by properly developing the region for the greater good of the Papuan people in particular, and a united Indonesian nation-state in general. The writer is a research analyst at the Indonesia Programme of the S. Rajaratnam of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
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4) Sarmi regent flown to Jakarta
Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Archipelago | Thu, May 14 2015, 9:51 PM - 
A team of investigators from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) brought Sarmi Regent Mesak Manibor to Jakarta after he was arrested at his house in Sarmi, west of Papua’s provincial capital of Jayapura, at 2:30 a.m. local time on Thursday.
“Regent Manibor was flown to Jakarta on a commercial flight via Sentani Airport in Jayapura regency at 12:30 p.m. His arrest was carried out smoothly,” said Papua Police spokesperson Sr.Comr.Rudolf Patrige in Jayapura on Thursday.
The AGO team arrested the top figure in Sarmi regency with support from the Papua Police’s criminal investigation directorate officers. Twenty-five personnel from the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit led by Adj.Sr.Comr.Nurhabri, the directorate’s chief who was also Sarmi Police chief in 2014, backed up the arrest.
The AGO has named Manibor a suspect in a graft case related to the regency’s regional budget (APBD) for the period of 2012-2013, amounting to Rp 4.5 trillion (US$346.5 million).
The AGO says it is also investigating the regent’s involvement in case centering on the alleged misuse of 2013 social assistance funds (Bansos). (ebf)(+++)
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Contact: Esther Cann, Coordinator, TAPOL, +44 7503 400308 esther.cann@tapol.org
 
5) News release Are Jokowi’s Papua moves merely savvy media stunts?

Dozens remain imprisoned and media access to Papua remains restricted
 
London, 14 May 2015 – In his visit to Papua last weekend, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo granted clemency to five Papuan political prisoners and announced that foreign journalists were no longer restricted from entering Papua. While these are steps in the right direction, they must be followed with concrete policies to end the criminalisation of free speech, said UK-based human rights group TAPOL.
 
“While we welcome these moves, they are totally meaningless if free speech is still brutally repressed in Papua. Jokowi’s first steps should be to release all political prisoners in Papua and to guarantee unrestricted access for foreign journalists and human rights observers. Policies must then be put in place to ensure the protection of freedom of expression,” said Esther Cann, TAPOL’s Coordinator.
 
While mainstream press were quick to call Jokowi’s moves ‘bold’ and ‘historic,’ they raise more questions than answers regarding political prisoners and access to Papua. Access for human rights observers and humanitarian agencies remains uncertain and new cases of arbitrary arrests and torture continue to be reported.
 
“Indonesia is sending mixed messages to Papua. One week hundreds are beaten and arrested, the next week a handful of prisoners are released and we are told the journalist ban will be lifted. If Jokowi is serious about lasting peace and protecting human rights in Papua, he needs to be sending a clear and consistent message.”
 
On 1 May, just ten days before Jokowi’s visit to Papua, 264 people were arrested in Manokwari, Merauke, Jayapura and Kaimana for commemorating the 52nd anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of Papua. Such a coordinated repressive response by security forces is at odds with the President’s recent announcements.
 
According to Papuans Behind Bars, an online resource on Papuan political prisoners, despite the release of five political prisoners, at least 28 others remain incarcerated in Papua. Meanwhile, dozens of ex-political prisoners and other activists are at risk of intimidation or re-arrest. The five men who were released each spent 12 years in prison for their alleged role in a weapons arsenal raid in Wamena in the Papuan highlands in 2003.Apotnalogolik LokobalNumbungga TelenggenKimanus WendaLinus Hilukaand Jefrai Murib experienced torture and ill-treatment in detention, and as a result have suffered serious and long-term damage to their health.

While TAPOL welcomes the release of the five men, it reminds Jokowi that he cannot ignore the remaining 28 Papuan and 29 Moluccan political prisoners still behind bars. Those who have been sentenced should be given an immediate presidential amnesty, while those still facing legal process should have their charges abolished.
 
In 2010, Meki Elosak and Wiki Meaga were arrested alongside seven others and charged with treason for carrying a Morning Star flag – a symbol of Papuan identity – while on their way to a relatives’ funeral. The two men, who worked as farmers, were not chosen for release last weekend even though they had applied for clemency last June. “The remaining political prisoners have spent years behind bars unlawfully under politically motivated charges. Why should they have to confess guilt to be granted clemency? Jokowi needs to prove that the releases were not just part of a media stunt” said Cann.
 
The releases received wide coverage by international journalists from the BBC, Al-Jazeera, New York Times and the Straits Times. On Sunday, Jokowi gave journalists more breaking news by announcing that international journalists were now free to enter and report on Papua.
 
For more than 50 years, access for foreign journalists seeking to report on Papua has been severely restricted. Those who have entered Papua on tourist visas have been deported, arrested and even imprisoned. Just last year, two French journalists were sentenced to 11 weeks in detention under immigration charges. International journalists and non-governmental organisations seeking to visit Papua are currently required to undergo a stringent visa application process involving the unanimous approval of 18 separate government agencies known as the ‘Clearing House committee’ under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Kementerian Luar Negeri, Kemlu).
 
While Jokowi announced on Sunday that foreign journalists no longer have to apply for visas with Kemlu, others in his administration have been quick to issue contradictory statements. Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno told the Jakarta Globe that foreign journalists will still be screened before being issued permits for Papua. National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto echoed him, stating in the Jakarta Post that “there are things we [Indonesia] can reveal to them and there are some that we can’t.”
 
These statements suggest that Indonesia will continue to restrict reporting in Papua. “What exactly has changed since Jokowi’s announcement? It is unclear whether the Clearing House process will simply be called something different while the rules remain the same,” said Cann.
 
Furthermore, the proposed involvement of the Indonesian army (Tentera Nasional Indonesia, TNI) in drafting new rules for international journalists is a serious cause for concern given their record of human rights abuses in West Papua. Since Indonesia’s annexation of Papua in 1963, the media blackout on Papua has made it virtually impossible to hold security forces to account for human rights violations. With the military’s vested interests in Papua, it is difficult to see how these new regulations will allow for unrestricted independent reporting.
 
Jokowi’s announcement on lifting restrictions for journalists also leaves the question of access for humanitarian agencies and human rights observers unanswered. In 2013, Indonesia unilaterally cancelled and indefinitely postponed a visit by Mr Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression at the time, allegedly because of his wish to visit Papua and Maluku. Indonesia’s first litmus test on access to Papua should include a no-holds-barred invitation to Papua to Mr David Kaye, the current mandate holder.
 
Papuan civil society groups continue to report new cases of torture. In December last year, two men were tortured by police Mobile Brigades (Brigade Mobil, Brimob) officers in the conflict-affected Pirime district in Lanny Jaya regency. Their injuries were so severe that they spent months in hospital and their trials have only just begun.
 
“It’s difficult to see how journalists will be able to report on such cases of torture if there are areas ‘forbidden’ to journalists. Often the worst violations take place in remote conflict areas labelled as ‘unsafe’ for journalists,” said Cann.
 
//ENDS

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