Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088
Summary of events in West Papua for June (to July 7) 2015
West Papua is at the MSG table
The ULMWP, representing the West Papuan people have been granted observer status at the MSG described as “an observer member under the regional and international category representing West Papuans living abroad,” Although the ULMWP and the West Papuan people must be disappointed that they did not receive full membership, is it as David Robie said in his article “In the end, the MSG failed the test with a betrayal of the people of West Papua by the two largest members. Although ultimately it is a decision by consensus.” http://www.pmc.aut.ac.nz/articles/caf-pacific-fiji-png-lead-betrayal-still-west-papuans-triumph or as Dan McGarry from the Pacific Institute of Public Policy Policy suggests in his article “Anything less than defeat is a victory” (29/6/15).
However, the bottom line is that ULMWP is at the MSG table and recognised by an important regional organisation. There is no reason that at future meetings the ULMWP’s status could not also be changed to associate or full membership. The ULMWP fought a hard campaign supported by the West Papuan people to try and achieve full membership with continuing lobbying of the MSG leaders. They achieved great media coverage throughout their campaign which will ensure that West Papua is firmly on the agenda in the Pacific Region. Their achievement will certainly be noted by the PIF countries and the ULMWP could also eventually achieve status at the PIF. The support given by civil society organisations, church groups and individual politicians in the various MSG countries will ensure the issue of West Papua is not going away. Indonesia also did what it could to stop the ULMWP achieving their aim by offering aid to the MSG countries. The decision to give the ULMWP observer status was critised by Indonesia.
From the Jakarta Post (“RI denies monitoring Papua through MSG”.,3/7/15)
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has denied any connection between Jakarta’s recent diplomatic push and the bid of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to become a full MSG member. The ministry have claimed that Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her counterparts had only discussed “Indonesia’s commitment to the US$20 million capacity-building program for MSG countries”. “I believe that this is a strategy by Indonesia to be able to more closely detect any separatist movements through the MSG. They are concerned that the MSG could support separatist movements or include the agenda of Papua in its discussion,” Indonesia Defense University’s international relations expert Bantarto Bandoro told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. During the campaign many rallies were held in West Papua in support of the ULM’s application with they security forces cracking down on the peaceful demonstrators, arresting and beating many. They West Papuan people also gathered more than 55,000 signatures in support of the ULM’s application.
Indonesian also criticised the speech by ULM’s Secretary General Octo Mote.
From Jubi (27’6’15) Indonesian delegation reacted strongly to a speech by the General Secretary of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) at a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Oktovianus Mote said ULMWP stood before MSG to affirm that the group have fulfilled the requirements demanded by MSG at a meeting in Noumea, New Caledonia in 2013. “The people of West Papua are united under the leadership of ULMWP. And our unity is supported by the Melanesian people. Our leadership has been legitimized by more than 55,000 people who signed the petition supporting ULMWP application for full membership. Many of the applicants had been arrested, imprisoned and tortured, “Mote said in his speech. He said for 53 years Papua nation has been struggling against the colonial rulers of Indonesia and suffered human rights abuses. He claimed that at least 500,000 have been killed. He also claimed the Indonesian crimes against Melanesians in West Papua has been widely recognized in various international and regional levels such as the European Union, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, the Pacific Islands Forum, and MSG). Mandy Setyawati, who led the Indonesian delegation, released a statement denouncing the speech.
From Dan McGarry’s article. “Arguably, West Papua is reaching a point in its political history similar to that of Black America in the years leading up to the march in Selma. Increasingly overt and untenable state violence is working against itself now. Indonesia can no longer avoid a painful but necessary confrontation with its own behaviour. It may yet be years before a peaceful and practical resolution is even possible, let alone within our collective grasp. But Doctor King famously claimed that the arc of history bends toward justice. And here is evidence that it does.For the indigenous peoples of West Papua, defeat is now unthinkable. And anything else, no matter how small, can only be victory.” http://pacificpolicy.org/2015/06/anything-less-than-defeat-is-a-victory/
Biak Massacre 6 July 1998
The West Papuan flag, The Morning Star was raised on the 2 July in 1998 on top of a water tower near the harbour in Biak town. Up to seventy-five people gathered beneath it singing songs and holding traditional dances. As the rally continued many more people in the area joined in with numbers reaching up to 500 people. On the 6 July the Indonesian security forces attacked the demonstrators massacring scores of people. The victims, included women and children who had gathered for a peaceful rally. They were killed at the base of the water tower. Other Papuans were rounded up and later taken out to sea where they were thrown off naval ships and drowned. No security force personal were ever charged over the killings. The Free West Papua Campaign in Sydney held a vigil to commemorate the Biak Massacre on Friday 3 July. Photos at http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/photos-of-free-west-papua-campaign.html AWPA media release at http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/media-release-17-years-since-biak.html
West Papua freedom forum. A West Papua freedom forum was held in Darwin (4-6 July) with aims to establish strategies to intensify the campaign to end the 54 year brutal Indonesian military occupation. group of about 60 people erected a temporary hut embassy outside Parliament House, calling for West Papuan independence from Indonesia. http://freedomflotillawestpapua.org
Amnesty International Urgent Action. AI released an urgent action that people can respond to concerning “Seven Papuan activists have been detained for their peaceful political activities. They've been charged with ‘incitement’ and could face up to six years’ imprisonment”. http://www.amnesty.org.au/urgent/action/37461/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fb-post&utm_campaign=UA655 PDF format http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/uaa13915.pdf
News in brief
Punks for West Papua. A series of gigs by Punks for West Papua not only raised funds but brought awareness of the West Papuan issue to a new audience. Congratulations to all the groups involved and their supporters.
(So much for the open policy for journalists. AWPA)
Indonesian military personnel may accompany press in Papua. Senin, 22 Juni 2015
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Military Chief General Moeldoko said his institution was considering implementing a policy of having security personnel accompany foreign journalists in Papua to avoid untoward incidents. "I am considering appointing guards to accompany foreign journalists so we can guide and protect them in case any dangerous situation arises," Moeldoko stated here on Monday. The military chief was attending a hearing with Commission I of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi and Chief of the State Intelligence Agency Marciano Norman. They discussed the amnesty and abolition policy applied to political prisoners in Papua. Moeldoko added that the effort to provide assistance to foreign journalists was to ensure their safety. The Indonesian Military will support all policies of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) for unity in Indonesia, he affirmed. "At the hearing, we will further discuss the potential of the policy," Moeldoko remarked. In addition, a member of Commission I of the House of Representatives, Tantowi Yahya, pointed out that the hearing was a follow-up to the letter the president sent on May 7 regarding granting amnesty and the abolition policy for political prisoners in Papua. Furthermore, the Deliberative Body of the Indonesian parliament decided to refer the case of the Papuan political prisoners to Commission III. (Uu.B019/INE/KR-BSR/H-YH)
Minister Contradicts President; Says Papua Transmigration Will Continue (Jakarta Globe 7/6/15)
Jakarta. An Indonesian minister has countered President Joko Widodo’s declaration that the controversial transmigration program to Papua province will be stopped, saying instead that, if anything, it will be expanded. Marwan Jafar, the minister for transmigration, said on Sunday that the program – in which often impoverished families are given land and money to relocate from densely populated areas, primarily Java but also Bali, to other islands – had proved “a success” in Merauke, a city near Indonesia’s border with Papua New Guinea. “Merauke can be considered a border region that has been successful in implementing the transmigration program and developing agricultural land in eastern Indonesia,” Marwan told reporters in Jakarta, as quoted by Republika.
He declared Merauke “heaven for transmigrants,” with an estimated 275,000 people having moved there since Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua in 1969 – often to the detriment of the indigenous population, who accuse the newcomers of a callous disregard for their customs and traditions, destroying the environment, and keeping the locals economically and socially subjugated. Joko, at a gathering with prominent community leaders in Jakarta on Thursday, announced that his administration would end the transmigration program to Papua, in recognition of the local population’s long-held grievances. “The government will stop transmigration to Papua because it has caused too much social envy,” he said in a statement issued by a spokesman, Teten Masduki. Joko “has already asked the governor of Papua to halt the program,” Teten added. Marwan, apparently, did not get the message, saying that the program would be ramped up in support of the government’s plan to develop 1.2 million hectares of rice fields in the region, under the Merauke Integrated Rice Estate project. “If this program succeeds, there will be a lot of development that will change the face of this region of eastern Indonesia,” he said. It was not clear if he was speaking literally; indigenous Papuans, who are vastly outnumbered by transmigrants, have long alleged that the transmigration program is an attempt to wipe out their numbers, in what human rights activists call a slow-motion genocide. To support the anticipated surge in newcomers, Marwan said his ministry planned to build more transmigrant settlements. These townships are often carved out of indigenous land, giving rise to conflicts, sometimes deadly, between the indigenous and transmigrant communities.
Papuans will continue to suffer - activist
An activist in the West Papuan town of Merauke says Indonesia will continue its "plunder" of the province whether or not it the transmigration policy stays. There have been mixed messages on the policy from members of Indonesia's government after President Joko Widodo called an end to the controversial policy of relocating hundreds of thousands of Indonesians into Papua and West Papua. The Minister of Transmigration, Marwan Jafar, says it has been a success and should go on. Yaphet Frangky says indigenous landowners have been frightened off their land by the Indonesian military since 1987. He says palm oil companies will continue to attract workers regardless of Government policy. "The problem is still not finished, but big big problem. The workers they don't have transmigration project but they are facilitating the people to come with more projects in Papua." Yaphet Frangky says Papuan customs and the environment suffer, and they don't benefit from the investment. (RNZI 10/6/15)
Dutch Journalist Reports Undercover From West Papua
UNPO June 10, 2015. In defiance of a 1963 law forbidding foreign journalists entry to West Papua, Dutch journalist Rohan Radheya has over the past years travelled into the region several times, and is one of very few foreign journalists able to do so. Well aware of the risks of being caught Radheya embarked on a new journey to West Papua last month and while he was there, on 10 May 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that the controversial ban on foreign journalists’ entry to West Papua would be lifted. Radheya shared his experiences and opinions about the lifting of the ban with UNPO. In May 2015, Rohan Radheya travelled to West Papua as an undercover journalist with the aim of meeting with several political prisoners and visiting the headquarters of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka or Free Papua Movement (OPM). According to Simon Sapioper, acting President of the National Government of the Republic of West Papua (NGRWP), journalists like Radheya are facing multiple risks travelling to West Papua as undercover journalists on a tourist visa, including imprisonment if they are caught. Foreign journalists have been banned from entering West Papua since 1963, the year in which Indonesia occupied the region. On 10 May 2015, during his three-day visit to West Papua, however, President Joko Widodo announced a lifting of this ban, stressing that foreign journalists would be able to enter the region from that day onwards. Radheya just happened to be in the region during Jokowi’s announcement. Despite this seemingly positive step, Radheya remained wary telling UNPO that no one in West Papua believes in Jokowi’s promises to allow press freedom in the region. He further highlighted that a long list of criteria which foreign journalists wishing to enter
West Papua have to fulfill was published directly after the ban was lifted. These demands include the prohibition of negative and critical news about the Indonesian government. Besides, foreign journalists would still be subjected to a ‘screening’ and those who report biased or imbalanced news would be penalized. According to Radheya, one could even argue that the Indonesian government is making it more difficult to report from West Papua: ‘’First they banned foreign journalists and now they even want to control our reporting,’’ he told UNPO. Moreover, he believes that the current media accreditation offered by the Indonesian government will only make it harder for foreign journalists to operate inside West Papua, as it will enable the authorities to easily monitor the movement of foreign journalists in the region. During his most recent visit to West Papua, Radheya had the opportunity to interview political prisoners, among them Filep Karma, who currently is imprisoned in the Abepura prison. Karma, who has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and who is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, told Radheya that he remembers the first time he was beaten in prison. Moreover, like many others, he was not granted a free and fair trial. Following his stay in West Papua, Radheya headed to neighboring Papua New Guinea, where he is currently preparing a documentary about the lives of the thousands of West Papuan refugees living in the Lowara refugee camp. Most of the West Papuans living in the camps fled the political persecution in their home country in the 1970s and 80s.
Asia Pacific Greens adopt West Papua resolution
The 3rd Congress of the Asia Pacific Greens Federation has adopted a resolution on the West Papuan self-determination struggle. The congress was held at the weekend in Silverstream, near New Zealand's capital, and featured delegates from a range of countries including Iraq, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The resolution, proposed by Greens delegates from PNG, Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Indonesia recognises and supports the human rights and self determination of the people of West Papua as Melanesians and supports their bid for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group The Federation requests that the Indonesian government has dialogue with West Papuan leaders. It also supports West Papuans' Pacific identity as Melanesians who should have a voice in Pacific leadership groups. (RNZI 15/6/15).
West Papua leader still doesn’t know why he’s blocked from US
The West Papuan independence leader, Benny Wenda, says he has still not heard why he was blocked from travelling to the United States a month ago. The West Papuan independence leader, Benny Wenda, says he has still not heard why he was blocked from travelling to the United States a month ago. In May Mr Wenda was checking in at London's Heathrow Airport when he was taken in for questioning by an official from the US Homeland Security Department, who then revoked his 10-year business visa. He says he was told to contact the US Embassy which said he would have to wait five working days to find out what happened, but a month on, he still hasn't heard. "I don't know what reason they took my visa but there's been no explanation at all. Until today, I'm still waiting, so it's very difficult." Benny Wenda says he’s certain he was prevented from travelling to the US because of his West Papua work. (RNZI 22/6/15).
14 Students arrested
14 members of the Independent Student Forum (FIM) were arrested in Abepura, Papua by the police. The students were fund raising to support the ad hoc team of the National Commission on Human Rights which was formed to look into the tragedy of the killing of civilians in Paniai on the 8 December. According to a report in Step Magazine, the Abepura police dispersed the students early in the morning but the students gathered again in cab perumnas III Waena and continued their fundraising activity. Shortly after the police again broke up the fund raising activities arresting 14. The police said they dispersed the students because they did not have a permit. AWPA release at http://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/media-release-14-students-arrested-in.html
Police Re-Arrest Two KNPB Activists in Manokwari
Yogjakarta, Jubi – The West Papua Police re-arrested two fugitive activists from the National Committee of West Papua (KPNB) in Manokwari region on Friday, July 3rd.The Commission for Diplomacy of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) of Manokwari region, Samuel Mabel, last week, said that Manokwari Police arrested the two KNPB activist on Mansinam island. “The two of them , Narko Muri and Jemi Murib previously fled from police custody in Manokwari. They were arrested on Mansinam island when they wanted to go to Nabire,” he told Jubi by cell phone from Manokwari, West Papua. “They also got beaten by officers when arrested,” he said. Currently, they are with three other KNPB activists in Manokwari police custody. Previously local print media in Manokwari and West Papua published that a peaceful demonstration detainee who is an activist of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB), Narko Murib escape from police custody in Manokwari on Tuesday (06/16/2015). And a team of legal advocacy and human rights for the people of West Papua, coordinated by the Institute for Research, Study and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH) in Manokwari ignored the news. “Our clients, namely Alexander Nekenem, Narko Murib, Maikel Aso and Yoram Magai are detained in headquarters of Brigade Mobile. They are actually very well guarded by members of the Mobile Brigade on duty at all times,” Yan Christian Warinussy explained. (Arnold Belau)
House rebuffs plan to pardon Papuans
Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, June 23 2015,. The House of Representatives has rejected a government proposal to pardon political prisoners in Papua, citing fears that they would go on to inflame separatism in the resource-rich region. The House on Monday met to discuss President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s plan for a second release of Papuan political convicts, summoning Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Moeldoko and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman to a closed-door meeting with House Commission I overseeing defense and foreign affairs. Despite holding only a preliminary meeting to a discussion expected to bring in more officials, including Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhi Purdijatno, to meet Commission I and Commission III overseeing law, human rights and security next week, Commission I refused to support the government’s plan to grant amnesty to around 90 political prisoners in Papua and West Papua provinces. “There are, as yet, no comprehensive programs by the government in Papua [to develop the region]. It’s clear that the government institutions dealing with the matter have so far carried out only individual, ad hoc initiatives,” Commission I deputy chairman Tantowi Yahya told the press after the meeting.
“We require the government to first elaborate measures to be taken in Papua in a comprehensive roadmap. We will not give our support unless the government provides a clear and broad roadmap to be implemented in Papua,” the Golkar politician added. According to Tantowi, the House received an official letter from Jokowi on May 7 seeking political support from the House for a plan to free more political prisoners following the release of five political detainees in Jayapura:
Apotnalogolit Lokobal, who was serving a 20-year sentence, Numbungga Telenggen, serving a life sentence, Kimanus Wenda, serving 19 years, Linus Hiluka, serving 19 years and Jefrai Murib, serving a life sentence. There are currently around 90 political prisoners detained in prisons around the restive region, including prominent political activist and former civil servant Filep Samuel Karma, who is serving a 15-year sentence for raising the banned Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag during a political rally in 2004. In the press conference that followed the meeting, the ministers declined to discuss the plan, but did stress that Papua was not off-limits for foreigners, including foreign journalists. “We’ve explained our responsibility in Papua, which is related to access to the land,” Retno said, explaining that her ministry had recorded an increase in permits issued to foreign journalists since 2011. The House’s summary rejection of the plan to free Papuan political prisoners disappointed human rights campaigners, who expressed hope that the legislature would come round. “We recommend that lawmakers politically support the government’s proposal, because the prisoners are not guilty. Set them free, for the sake of humanity,” said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch. Andreas highlighted Filep’s case as an example of wrongful arrest that contravened international law. Poengky Indarti of Imparsial said that granting amnesty to political prisoners in Papua would help to regain the trust of the region’s people. “It is part of a solution to solve problems in Papua peacefully,” she said.
Opinion pieces/press releases/letters/etc.
PNG Ignores West Papua at Its Own Peril
JOKOWI’S SECOND PRESIDENTIAL VISIT TO PAPUA -Reflection and Agenda for dialogue
West Papua, represented by the ULMWP must be at the MSG table
Photos of one of the Free West Papua campaign vigils held in Sydney on the 5 June
Media release-More rallies called in West Papua
Kamoro People Resist Freeport Smelter Development on their Ancestral Land
What the Kamoro are opposing: briefing on planned industrial developments for Timika
Video of the Biak Massacre Commemoration Vigil in Sydney
A series of articles on West Papua on the Lowy Institute Interpreter blog by Michael Bachelard, correspondent for Fairfax Media in Indonesia from 2012 to 2014.
The stories we never hear from Papua
With the missionaries of Papua
How government is failing the people of Papua
Papua's education malaise
In Papua's health centres, a glimpse of dysfunction and corruption
Papua's journalists tell hard truths about local cronyism and violence
For Papua's independence activists, the struggle is about more than human rights
Papuans face ignorance, corruption and racism from Jakarta