Monday, June 22, 2015

1) West Papua leader confident of Vanuatu backing

2) Commentary: Govt needs  to maximize benefits from  Freeport - 
3) Jokowi urged to make political  move to settle past rights  abuses

1) West Papua leader confident of Vanuatu backing
Updated at 7:52 pm today
The secretary general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua says he is confident in Vanuatu's support, despite the change in government.
Vanuatu got a new government 12 days ago after a vote of no confidence.
The ULMWP's Octo Mote is in Port Vila ahead of this week's Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in neighbouring Solomon Islands, where the West Papuan group will be pushing for full membership of the MSG.
The previous Vanuatu government had been strongly supportive and Mr Mote believes the new administration will continue this backing.
"The support of the Vanuatu Government is not depending on political parties or any political leader. This is a nation's support and it is already passing a bill in Parliament, so I don't see any change. The change is in the form of the approach with the Indonesian Government - how we would deal with the Government."
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua's Octo Mote.

2) Commentary: Govt needs  to maximize benefits from  Freeport - 
Riyadi Suparno, Timika, Papua | Commentary | Mon, June 22 2015, 1:15 PM 
History is often forgotten when people discuss the fate of US-based Freeport McMoran’s copper, gold and silver mining operation in Papua. People tend to use the current situation to judge what happened in the late 1960s.

People critical of Freeport are quick to point out that the company has plundered Indonesia’s mining wealth in Papua since 1967 (or 1973, when its mines began production). They forget, however, to mention the situation at the time when Freeport entered Papua.

We need to consider at least three things about the situation when Freeport was given its mining contract of work (CoW) from the government of then newly-installed president Soeharto.

The first thing is that Indonesia was in a dire economic situation following the fall of strongman Sukarno, who brought Indonesia to its knees at the end of his two-decade-long rule.

In that context, Soeharto drafted a foreign-direct-investment law to attract badly needed investment.  Freeport was the first foreign player to commit to large-scale investment in Indonesia, and the CoW it signed was the first of its kind.

The second thing that needs to be understood is that the Ertsberg mining reserve is located in a remote area of Papua, at a height of around 4,000 meters above sea level, and that 48 years ago, there was no infrastructure at all in the area now known as Mimika regency.

Freeport had to create everything from scratch, building ports and opening an 80-kilometer access road to the Ertsberg mining reserves through challenging terrain. This needed huge initial investment.

Not only that, we have also to recognize that Freeport was a pioneering mining company that rediscovered Erstberg after it was forgotten for a long time after being reported by Jean-Jacques Dozy, who found and named it Ertsberg while he was part of the Colijn expedition to Papua’s Carstenz Glacier in 1936.

After hearing of Dozy’s report, Freeport launched an expedition, led by Forbes Wilson and Del Flint, to Ertsberg in 1960, when the area was still under the control of the Netherlands. Three years later, the Netherlands handed over Papua to the UN, which later passed it over to Indonesia.

The third and most important thing to remember is that Freeport entered the CoW with the Indonesian government two years before the UN-sponsored Act of Free Choice in Papua in 1969, which confirmed Indonesia’s control over Papua.

Imagine if it were not Freeport, not a US mining company that had been given the license to mine in Papua, would the US have supported the Act of Free Choice in Papua? The Act of Free Choice gave Indonesia legitimate control over the area.

As such, granting Freeport the CoW to mine copper, gold and silver in Papua served Indonesia’s geopolitical aims of that time.

The same geopolitical argument is still valid now, at a time when independence aspirations still run high among Papuans.

That’s why President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is careful in handling Freeport’s case, amid loud calls from some quarters — including from his own inner circle — to nationalize Freeport.

What Freeport is now asking from Jokowi’s administration is certainty regarding its operation after its second CoW expires in 2021.

According to Freeport Indonesia president director Maroef Sjamsoeddin, if the government does not provide certainty for the firm’s operation beyond 2021, it will likely lay off 70 percent of its 30,000-plus workforce in 2017, when its mining operation at the Grasberg open-pit mining site is set to end.

If the Grasberg mine ceases operation in 2017, Freeport’s production will fall 70 percent from its current production level of 240,000 tons of ore per day.

The implication would be huge, especially for Mimika regency and Papua province in general, because Freeport’s operation currently contributes 91 percent to Mimika’s gross regional product and 37.5 percent to Papua’s.

To avert such an alarming situation, Freeport needs to invest a large sum of money into its underground mining operation. To do that, it needs a license from the government and certainty over its operation beyond 2021. 

Freeport has invested US$4 billion in its DOZ and Big Gossan underground mines, with mining tunnels now spanning 500 kilometers underground. Beyond 2017, all Freeport mining operations will be underground.

Freeport plans to mine three more underground sites, namely Deep MLZ, Grasberg Underground and Kucing Liar. To develop them to their full potential, it needs to invest another $15 billion and $2.3 billion.

It is a huge investment for any Indonesian entity. Therefore, nationalizing Freeport’s assets is not an option now. What the government needs to do is to maximize the benefits from Freeport.

After renegotiation of the second CoW, the government now gets around 60 percent of all revenue from Freeport’s Papua operation, including from royalties and various taxes. If that’s not enough, the government can sit down and negotiate further with Freeport for a larger share of the income. 

But the government cannot hold Freeport hostage. Certainty over Freeport’s operation beyond 2021 is badly needed to ensure continuity of operation and economic multiplier effects for local people in Papua.

The writer, the executive director of The Jakarta Post, visited Freeport’s mining operation in Mimika regency in Papua over the weekend. The visit was at the invitation of PT Freeport Indonesia.

3) Jokowi urged to make political  move to settle past rights  abuses
Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Mon, June 22 2015, 10:14 AM - 

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to issue a presidential decree to officially set up an ad hoc commission assigned to seek comprehensive resolutions to unresolved past cases of human rights violations.

A presidential decree is needed to set up the ad hoc commission, the establishment of which is included in the National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN), in order to speed up an ongoing process jointly being carried out by relevant state institutions that has been harshly criticized by human rights campaigners and victims of past rights abuses due to foreseeable unaccountability. The state institutions are Komnas HAM, the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, the Law and Human Rights Ministry, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police and the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).

According to the RPJMN, the ad hoc commission is to be under the direct supervision of Jokowi to facilitate efforts to thoroughly reveal cases of past rights abuses in order to finally find solutions to resolve them.

“The ongoing process can move faster if the President makes a political move and issues a decree to set up the ad hoc commission,” Komnas HAM deputy chief, who also leads Komnas HAM’s team on the settlement of past human rights abuses, Roichatul Aswidah, told The Jakarta Post.

Roichatul suggested that the ad hoc commission could not only work faster but also more effectively as long as it involved various elements representing all stakeholders, particularly victims who suffered abuses in the past or their relatives.

“We, as a nation, can thus move forward from officially acknowledging the dark past to taking measures to restoring the rights of the victims,” Roichatul added.

Komnas HAM and the state institutions have been conducting meetings to discuss resolutions to past rights abuses, the settlement of which has been in limbo for years despite campaign promises by former presidents and more recently by Jokowi.

In a move to show that he is different from his predecessors, Jokowi has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to settling past rights abuses, which have been declared gross human rights violations by Komnas HAM. During his term in office, Jokowi has assigned officials to be responsible for the issue, including Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly, Attorney General M. Prasetyo, National Police chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, to work together with Komnas HAM to find the best solutions to the cases.

The unresolved cases consist of the 1989 massacre in Talangsari, Lampung, the forced disappearance of anti-Soeharto activists in 1997 and 1998, the 1998 Trisakti University shootings, the Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1998 and 1999, the mysterious killings of alleged criminals in the 1980s, the communist purges of 1965 and various abuses that took place in Wasior and Wamena in Papua in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

In addition to assigning those institutions to find solutions, the government has also initiated a bill on Truth and Reconciliation (KKR) to the House of Representatives, which is apparently an alternative way in case government officials fail to find the best solutions for all.

Minister Yasonna told lawmakers in a hearing last week that the government would prioritize its team, which is led by Komnas HAM, in searching for possible solutions to best settle cases of past abuses instead of discussing the KKR bill.

“We might put the [KKR] bill on hold to allow the government’s team to work first,” Yasonna told the House’s Legislation Body (Baleg) when asked for a draft bill as well as an academic paper on the KKR because although the KKR bill was one of the priority bills in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas), the government was yet to submit the draft to the House. -


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