Wednesday, July 29, 2015

1) Thousands go hungry as freak cold wave hits Papua

2) Tolikara incident to be settled by traditional wisdom

3) Environmental audit on  Freeport a must

4) Papuan culture must be preserved: Coordinating Minister

5) From the margins

6) RMS Political prisoners being held on Nusa Kambangan Island
7) AWPA letter in Solomon Star

1) Thousands go hungry as freak cold wave hits Papua 

Published: 29 July 2015 10:59 CET

Volunteers of Indonesian Red Cross Society are unloading aid materials in sub-district Kuyawage, Lanny Jaya. About 182,000 people are affected as extreme weather hit areas in Papua, Indonesia. Photo Credit: Indonesian Red Cross Society

By Ahmad Husein, IFRC 
In recent weeks, thousands of people in the Indonesian Province of Papua have been suffering the effects of a severe cold wave that has left remote communities in need of food and clean water.
The cold wave first struck at the beginning of July, hitting the district of Lanny Jaya particularly hard. The sub-districts of Kuyawage, West Wanu and Goa Baliem were struck by hailstorms accompanied by freezing temperatures which plunged to minus two degrees Celsius.
"Water is an urgent need for the communities in Lanny Jaya,” said the Executive Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross Society, Ginandjar Kartasasmita. Local water sources are reportedly frozen or have been contaminated and supplies of bottled water are unavailable in local markets. In response, the Red Cross has so far distributed 500 gallons of drinking water, blankets and instant food to help 182,000 people who are in need of humanitarian assistance.
All aid items have been decided following a rapid assessment carried out by the Red Cross in coordination with local authorities which have distributed five tonnes of rice to Kuyawage and deployed two doctors and five nurses.
The average temperature in Lanny Jaya ranges between 17.8 degrees to 32 degrees and such an extreme cold wave hasn’t been witnessed since 1989. So far, nine people have died, half of whom were children. Hundreds of people are suffering from health problems while thousands are threatened with food shortages. The hailstorms caused severe damage to farmland and killed a large number of livestock.
“Our community has suffered as the hailstorms destroyed yam crops and people have nothing to harvest. It also killed 168 pigs which are our main livestock,” said Lenius Muria Lanny, head of Kuyawage sub-district.
Delivering aid to the region is a major challenge. Affected villages are nestled high in the mountains and to reach them, Red Cross volunteers walked for three days with supplies as the unstable weather has hampered efforts to send materials by small aircraft which is normally the only form of transportation that can be relied upon.  
According to the Indonesian Agency for Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics (BMKG) the cold wave with accompanying hailstorms is a climatic event that could be attributed to El Niño which typically brings colder than normal temperatures to the far eastern Pacific during the June-August and September-November seasons.


2) Tolikara incident to be settled by traditional wisdom

Rabu, 29 Juli 2015 21:11 WIB | 529 Views
Jayapura (ANTARA News) - Religious leaders in the Papua province have agreed to settle the recent incident in Tolikara district by traditional wisdom.

"We agreed and approved that firstly we will settle the Tolikara incident by way of traditional wisdom peacefully and safely now and in the future," president of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia (GIDI), Dorman Wandikmo, said at the office of the Inter-Religious Communication Forum (FKUB) here on Wednesday.

After the meeting initiated by FKUB Papua Dorman said they have also agreed to ask the regional police to stop the legal process now underway of the incident.

"Secondly, all detained in connection with the Tolikara incident must immediately be released and we do not want any more detention nor further legal process," he said.

The chairman of the Nadhlatul Ulama chapter of Papua province, Toni Wanggai, said he had agreed that the Tolikara incident was not a religious issue.

"Firstly we wish to tell the whole people of Indonesia that the incident in Tolikara was not a religious conflict but it merely happened because of miscommunication with regard to the implementation of a religious rite," he said.

He said that no house of prayer had been set on fire but the fire that had happened on it was a mere effect from a fire affecting other structures.

He said he hoped the legal process that was currently being carried out by the regional police could be immediately stopped as the problem would be settled using traditional wisdom existing in Tolikara.

"The legal process by the Papua regional police had to be stopped because it would not settle the root cause of the problem and would even protract its settlement," he said.

"We, Muslims in Papua, agreed to settle using traditional and local cultural wisdom," he said. 

A group of people believed to be members of the Evangelical Church of Indonesia (GIDI) stormed Muslims who were performing an Eid prayer on Friday.

According to the chairman of the Communion of Evangelical Churches and Institutions in Indonesia, Roni Mandang, there was chaos after police officers fired shots at them, which led to the torching of kiosks. Flames from these fires spread to the Islamic house of prayer, once it was known that a person had been shot dead.

Moreover, Spokesman for the Public Information Division of the National Police Senior Commissioner Suharsono said that the police had opened fire to control rioters and to keep them away from the mosque.

It was later confirmed that one person was killed and 11 others wounded in the incident.

The country was gripped with tension following the incident.

Two suspects have been caught in connection with the incident in Tolikara admitting they have pelted stones at the Muslims performing Idul Fitri prayers on July 17, a police officer stated.

The suspects, identified as AK and JW, were arrested on July 24 for their alleged involvement in the attack, Spokesman of the Papua provincial police headquarters Senior Commissioner Patrige recently said.

Based on witnesses confessions and a video footage it was revealed that the two suspects were provocateurs. One of them had even used a loudspeaker to instigate the angry mob, he revealed.

(Reporting by Dhias Suwandi/Uu.H-YH/KR-BSR/A014)
3) Environmental audit on  Freeport a must
Abednego Tarigan, Jakarta | Opinion | Wed, July 29 2015, 6:15 AM - 
The government and miner PT Freeport Indonesia are due to negotiate a contract extension two years before the current contract ends in 2021. The firm seems to have gained a green light through a special mining permit. 

The history of environmental damage should be considered, in which Freeport’s destructive capacity increased after raising its production from 75,000 tons to 300,000 tons of ore daily. During 2006-2007, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) assessed that the damage caused by Freeport regarding its tailing dam alone reached the size of Bandung, the capital of West Java.

The tailing dam, now legalized as the Modified Ajkwa Deposition Area (ModADA), used to be the Ajkwa River, vital to the life of local people. Freeport first damaged the area as vast as Bandung and only later, by a ministerial agreement, was the flow of Ajkwa diverted and the vast tailing disposal area turned into the ModADA. 

So far this damage has never been accounted for. Nor was there accountability for the loss of biodiversity, apart from Freeport’s program for biodiversity protection in another region. Freeport easily disregarded the damage due to its affluence. And the Indonesian government always bows to pressure in matters of environmental responsibility. 

The government should acknowledge that the production increase licensing in the past was a mistake as it resulted in irreparable destruction. Thus strict conditions should be imposed to prevent further damage. 

In the event of extending the mining contract the government should include provisions on the environment that are not related to those already contained in relevant regulations — which have been fulfilled by Freeport as evidenced by its annual Corporate Environmental Compliance Program rating of “proper” — but also related to critical issues such as reducing emissions from massive energy consumption, managing biodiversity, restoring natural habitats and correcting tailing disposal. The government should ask Freeport to offer its prior environmental commitment, beyond regulations, before specifying tougher prerequisites where necessary.

The other aspect is whether it is appropriate for President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to decide on the future contract without consulting the people of Papua who are already placed at a disadvantage. The government’s position should be the outcome of its consultation with Papuans, especially those subjected to the direct impact of Freeport’s operations for almost 50 years.

The biggest environmental impact posed by Freeport concerns the massive change in landscape and the effect of river tailing disposal. Landscape change has to be recognized as a consequence of the government’s acceptance of Freeport’s operations through its Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal); but its rehabilitation, including of biodiversity, should be clearly defined in the Mine Closure Plan. 

River tailing disposal was also approved through the Amdal, but many experts brought further attention to the issue particularly after observing environmental impacts of the Ok Tedi Mine in Papua New Guinea. Freeport should be required to improve its tailing management, including the possible application of a less harmful tailing disposal method. 

In anticipation of further environmental damage, there has not been any independent and transparent impact assessment. Moreover, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar indicated in February that the latest environmental audit was done in 1990. Thereafter, annual supervision was conducted and in 2011 this inspection was discontinued for security reasons. Ecologically, Freeport has caused remarkable damage — the problem is that it was with the Indonesian government’s permission through Amdal approval and operational extensions without any environmental audit in advance. 

The formal obligations pursuant to government regulations have most likely been carried out, as reflected in its “proper” rating. However, many other things should be given attention if Freeport wishes to demonstrate its increased performance, notably in response to the expectations of local people and civil society organizations. 

It is thus necessary to map the stakeholders and their respective aspirations regarding environmental performance, to which Freeport should respond with detailed corrective actions including their time frames and commitments to adequate resources. If some expectations are deemed as yet unfulfilled by Freeport, they should be prioritized in its action plan.

Various reports show that the tailing disposal dam known as ModADA has an area of 230 hectares, 120 kilometers from the coast. During normal Freeport production, the tailing deposited in ModADA reaches 230,000 tons daily, which is carried by rainwater, permeating the Ajkwa River. 

The report “Indonesian seas in crisis” issued by Greenpeace in 2013 said that Freeport’s tailing runs into the Otomina and Ajkwa rivers at an estimated rate of 80 million tons annually, ending in the sea. President Jokowi should therefore conduct an independent and transparent environmental audit and consult with Papuan people before making a decision. Otherwise the risk of environmental destruction will continue. At a hearing with the House of Representatives Commission VII, the Environment and Forestry Ministry was instructed to demand Freeport’s environmental audit, which should be directly supervised by independent auditors and the ministry.

Jokowi has changed the Contract of Work into a special mining permit, which is correct and should be appreciated. This puts Freeport in a lower position (as a “contractor”) compared to the previous status (equal to the government), thus facilitating government control. It also gives the signal that Jokowi does not submit to US interests. But the status change will certainly be followed by bargaining between Freeport, or even the US government, and the Indonesian government. Transparency and benefits for Indonesia should be guaranteed.

The President should ponder the tasks and responsibilities of regional administrations as a consequence of the mining business license regime. Many regions, including Papua, are not prepared with adequate capacity to perform supervision over the licenses issued. The homework is therefore to undertake a crash course to increase regional administrations’ capacity.

Jokowi need not worry about urging guaranteed Indonesian interests in the negotiations. The fear of less state revenue is no more disquieting than the wasting of state funds on environmental restoration. The change of government should not merely be a changing of the guard, but should also provide the momentum to correct past errors.

From the viewpoint of the environment and the government’s performance in controlling and acting against the destruction taking place, the operational extension of Freeport virtually indicates unpreparedness. It is at least reflected in the absence of any government audit and supervision in the last four years.

In the entire process of negotiation, the government has been more inclined to make conventional economic calculations by ignoring the environment, with divestment and downstream operation as dominant topics. Increased ownership without reviewing the impact of landscape and ecosystem damage means greater government responsibility for restoration. The destruction should first be handled. 

A correct environmental audit and assessment should be carried out before deciding whether or not Freeport can continue to operate. Even if the region’s mining operation is nationalized, there’s no guarantee for damage reduction as long as its production method and volume remain unchanged or sustained.
The biggest environmental impact concerns the massive change in landscape and the effect of river tailing disposal. 

The writer is executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi). - 


4) Papuan culture must be preserved: Coordinating Minister

Rabu, 29 Juli 2015 20:14 WIB | 478 Views

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The vast cultural diversities that have been prevalent in Papua for centuries must be maintained, according to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno.

"We must not abandon the existing culture of Papua. The government now has the task of improving the welfare of the people and their livelihood in Papua," he said during a discussion titled "Voice to Papua" at Borobudur Hotel here on Wednesday.

However, he clarified that by improving employment opportunities in Papua, they do not mean that indigenous communities will have to wear business suits or change the traditional habits they have had for generations.

"In other countries, local people are free to dress according to their customs in public places and at official state events. There is no problem with the people of Papua because their culture should not be compared with those of other regions," Purdijatno remarked.

Furthermore, the minister noted that the task of the government today was to harmonize the welfare of the people of Papua with their own culture and customs.

Therefore, while framing policies, the government has vowed to always involve the local residents of Papua, Purdijatno affirmed.

5) From the margins

Padre James Bhagwan
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

During the recent Uniting Church in Australia Triennial Assembly, I had the opportunity to listen to stories about churches in countries where Christianity is not the dominant religion or culture. Four international church leaders shared stories about the history and current landscape of their church, and how the church is responding to conflict in their locality.
Rev. Sung-jae Kim was the first leader to speak. He is currently the Vice Moderator of the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) and will become Moderator of the KCCJ in October this year.
As a prelude to his presentation, Rev Kim shared a confronting video which demonstrated recent racial violence against Korean people in Japan.
There is a strong history of animosity between some sections of the Japanese and Korean communities.
Rev Kim indicated that the 580,000 strong Korean community who currently reside in Japan go to great extents to avoid discrimination.
The KCCJ was formed in 1945. Since its inception, the KCCJ has placed importance on assisting the marginalised and providing a voice for the weak.
Rev Kim said that the church was determined not to close their eyes to injustice but to remain dedicated in assisting minority groups. The KCCJ is organising an international conference to inform and share what has been occurring in Japan against racial minorities.
The second speaker, Rev John Ruhulessin, is the Moderator of the Protestant Church of Maluku, a province in Indonesia. His presentation began with a brief recap of the history of violence between Muslim and Christian people in Maluku. He focused particularly on a bloody riot that took place in and around Ambon in January 1999. As a result of this riot and other violence, over 1,000 people were killed, and houses and churches were burnt down.
The Protestant Church of Maluku (PCM) has responded by working on ways to rebuild trust and support communities, particularly between Muslims and Christians. The PCM has also worked on ways to break down barriers between different religious groups, and change their theological mindsets. Focusing on education and dialogue has been key in this process.
In closing his talk, Rev. Ruhulessin commented on the impact UnitingWorld has had in the Maluku province. Community programs supported by UnitingWorld have worked to empower the capacity of women to make change by providing financial assistance in the form of loans. UnitingWorld's programs have also helped to educate community members, Christians and Muslims, to live and work with each other.
The third person to speak was Jan Rumbrar, the Secretary of the Department of Partnerships and Ecumenical Relations, who connects the Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua (GKI-TP) with overseas church partners. He provided an update on the landscape of Papua and the GKI-TP.
Mr Rumbrar stated that the GKI-TP has been living in difficult times for 52 years, beginning in 1963 when the Papua province was incorporated into Indonesia.
"Some people want West Papua to be independent, some want it to remain part of Indonesia" he said.
Mr Rumbrar provided a brief history of West Papua's struggle. He also outlined the recent positive actions taken by President Joko Widodo since his election last year. President Widodo has promised to visit Papua three times a year to look at economic development projects, and has made changes that include allowing foreign journalists to visit Papua and the release of political prisoners.
GKI-TP supports the people of West Papua through programs that assist with capacity building, legal assistance and trauma healing.
The Uniting Church in Australia, through UnitingWorld, has supported a number of these initiatives.
Mr Rumbrar said the church remained hopeful about the future, but knew that genuine dialogue with Indonesia was needed to move forward. Mr Rumbrar closed by quoting Galatians 6:1-9.
Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy (Bunu), the Moderator Church of North India (CNI), was the last international church leader to speak.
Bishop Samantaroy provided information about the community violence against religious minorities in India, which includes Christian, Muslim and Sikh communities, amongst others. Hinduism is the largest religion in India with 827 million people, or 80.5 per cent of the population, identifying themselves as belonging to this group. Christians make up a much smaller percentage of the population, and the CNI has a current member base of 1,250,000 people.
Established in 1970, the CNI is a united and uniting church — its formation brought together six denominations, covering a large portion of India.
Despite the massive diversity of cultures and languages in India, Bishop Samantaroy said that many people lived in harmony — and have done so for many years.
However, there have also been some right-wing Hindu groups and organisations who have aimed to "re-convert" Christians in India.
Bishop Samantaroy said although the current Indian Government is secular, they have done little to stop violence towards minority religious groups.
He noted that there have been attempts to "saffronise", or homogenise, Indian society. He said this had largely taken place through the renaming or usurpation of Christian festivals, and the rewriting of school history books to reflect and incorporate distinctly Hindu perspectives.
Bishop Samantaroy closed by commenting on recent violent acts against religious minorities. He said that the CNI responded to these acts with protest marches and candlelight vigils. They also focussed on networking with people of other faiths (including Hindus), working with civil society organisations, discussing Christian unity, encouraging grassroots mobilisation, and working on dialogue with the Government.
Bishop Samantaroy said that despite these challenges, the CNI is growing stronger every day.
Yet being on the margin of society as necessarily a bad thing.
The Associate General Secretary of the China Christian Council, Rev Dr Lin Manhong, argued that Jesus Christ was the marginal person "par excellence". He was born in a lowly stable, was considered an outsider by his own and befriended those on the edge of society — such as Zaccheus the tax collector, the sick, the poor and the woman at the well.
"If Jesus Christ, the incarnated God, was a marginal person, we Christians are definitely called to be the marginal people of God," she said.
"When the church is in a position of being at the margin, it will be more likely to be like Jesus Christ to relate to and embrace those who are marginalised, because the church itself is one of them, as Jesus Christ was," Dr Lin said
"It will be more likely for the church to join the voices from the margins and not just listen to and speak for them from a distant, central and privileged position.
"It will be more likely for the church to be a more active agent of missionary activities to counteract injustice, inequality and exclusivity that have kept people at the margins.
"It will be more likely for the church to remember its original nature and what it ought to be."
Being more willing to look for change and renewal in the church was another positive which came from being on the margin of society.
As communities, be they of faith, culture, ideology or circumstance, fluctuate from being on the margins to the centre, these experiences and reflections can help to ensure that we all listen to and learn from each other. That can only happen if we have both an open heart and an open mind.
"Simplicity, serenity, spontaneity".
* Reverend James Bhagwan is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Fiji and a citizen journalist. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fiji Times or the Methodist Church in Fiji.
6) RMS Political prisoners being held on Nusa Kambangan Island

Report received from Andreas Harsono, 29 July 2015

   Ever since 2005, I have been following and writing about Indonesian political prisoners in West Papua and in the Maluku
Archipelago The political prisoners held in Aceh were almost all released in August 2005 as a result of the Helsinki Agreement. But
now, I am mainly concerned about those being held because of their activities of Independent Papua and those in custody because of their
activities with regard to the Republic of South Maluku (RMS) and West Papua.

  Last week, I received  the photos of six Republic of South Maluku prisoners who are now being held in Nusa Kambangan. This is a prison
island which is extremely difficult to visit because it is designated as being a place of ‘high security'. I requested permission to visit
the prisoners but I received no reply.  These six political prisoners who are being held in Kembang Kuning, Nusa Kambangan are part of the twenty-nine RMS 
prisoners being held in
various places in Indonesia. According to the Civil Advocacy Team, there are another two RMS prisoners in Pasir Putih prison . I don't
have their photographs. But what is clear is that these eight prisoners  are being held in places that are far away from where they
were born in Hanuka Island, near Ambon.

  They are all serving sentences of between ten and twenty years, simply because they performed the cakalela dance while carrying the
RMS flag in June 2007 during a visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Most of these prisoners were charged and found guilty of
subversion under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Constitution. Several of them  were subjected to torture when they were taken into
custody. Since they have been in prison. many have suffered serious injuries but they refused medical assistance for as long as they are
being held in prison.   Of course, it is clear that they should not have been given custodial sentences. None of them used violence. Several 
international human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch , KontraS and
Amnesty International  have called on President Joko Widodo to release

  I think that all this happened because of a mistaken attitude adopted by the Indonesian Government and in particular by President
Yudhoyono who issued Governmental Decree No 77 in 2007, declaring that people should not raise the RMS symbol. This resulted in some people
being arrested  because of their peaceful political activities. The number of these prisoners increased following the end of the Suharto
era. During the presidencies of B.J Habibie and Abdurahman Wahid, all political prisoners were released, but in my opinion, things got worse
because of the attitude of President Yudhoyono.

 All these RMS prisoners  are now  working as peasants or fishermen. They are  being held far away from their families and only very rarely
receive visits from their wives, parents or other relatives.  Several of them, like for instance Ruben Saiya, were just teenagers when they were imprisoned. I find it very difficult to imagine how
they can cope, now that they have become adults yet still behind prison bars.

  I sincerely hope that the People’s Representative Assembly, especially Commission 111, will investigate this situation and call
upon President Jokowi, as the president is known, for the immediate release of all political prisoners, with an amnesty or abolition.
The report contains five photographs of some of the prisoners.

Translated by Carmel Budiardjo, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, 1995.

7) AWPA letter in Solomon Star

And Pacific Media Centre 
WEST PAPUA: Open letter warns Pacific Forum leaders of human rights abuses

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