Friday, March 11, 2016

1) In restive province, Papuans wonder whose side church is on

2) West Papuans Seeks Ghana’s Support to Break Away From Indonesia

3) Indonesia rights body urges  Obama to open secret US  files - 

1) In restive province, Papuans wonder whose side church is on

Indigenous continue fight for self determination despite sideways glance from institutional church leaders

Indonesian Father John Djonga leads a prayer service Papua province on Feb. 19 that led to an investigation of the priest on possible treason charges. Grass-roots church leaders have actively helped seek solutions toPapua's decadeslong conflict, while the institutional churches remain largely silent. (Photo courtesy Flori G.)

Cypri Jehan Paju Dale, Jakarta, Indonesia March 11, 2016

Indonesian Father John Djonga has continually found himself in trouble with security forces in West Papua.
In the latest incident, Father Djonga, a priest of Jayapura Diocese and a renowned human rights defender, was questioned by the police for his role in leading an ecumenical prayer service for the inauguration of the Papuan Indigenous Council Center in Wamena, which is also an office for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Around 5,000 Papuans from various denominations attended the ceremony.
The allegation against Father Djonga is treason, an accusation that has put many Papuans behind bars as political prisoners and a few others executed through extrajudicial killings. Progressive Protestant leaders such as the Rev. Benny Giay and the Rev. Yoman Socrates also faced such accusations and now are under strict military surveillance, as confirmed by leaked military documents in 2011.
In 2008, Father Djonga had similar trouble as a parish priest in the remote area of Keerom in Papua as he was defending indigenous Papuans fighting against land grabbing, deforestation, and military violence on the border with Papua New Guinea.
The priest also criticized the involvement of security forces in illegal logging, which caused him trouble when the military's special forces troops, known as Kopassus, allegedly urged him to keep quiet or he would be buried alive. The civil society networks then rescued him, but when he returned to Keerom, instead of remaining silent as he was warned, he continued his work and established a human rights foundation.
In 2012 Father Djonga faced scrutiny from Indonesia's intelligence agency and military. He was charged with colluding and supporting pro-independence leaders in hiding in the forests and abroad. His phone, which contained phone numbers of pro-independence leaders, became evidence.
In his defense, Father Djonga asked authorities also to reveal a phone list of his containing the numbers of Indonesian police and military officials, and announce the names of all Jakarta officials, including ministers, who had contacted and communicated with him.
He told investigators at that time that as a pastor, it was his duty to bridge communication and dialogue with all parties, without resorting to the use of violence.
Churches often proclaim their concerns for human rights and their mission of liberating the oppressed. However, in complicated situations like in West Papua, where the state and corporate powers conspire against the well-being of the people, concerns for human rights and solidarity with the oppressed are not as simple as preaching from a podium or publishing a pastoral letter.
In everyday reality, defending the rights of Papuans means a confrontation with dominant groups, such as the state apparatus and corporate oligarchies. The dilemma in defending the indigenous' rights to their land and forests means fighting against investors and politicians, many of whom are also Christians and donors to the development of churches.
Does the church choose solidarity with the people at the expense of development donations? This is an option with a cost that not all church leaders are willing to absorb.
Voice of the Voiceless
Churches are often idealized as the voice of the voiceless. But in Papua, the people are not voiceless. They have been speaking up, crying out, asking for help and seeking solidarity, while their struggle has withered on for decades. It is the churches that are often voiceless. The leaders of institutional churches — whether in Papua, on the national level and global — have remained silent to the struggles of Papuans seeking self-determination.
The Indonesian bishops' conference and the Communion of Churches seem to have aligned themselves with the government's developmental and security approach in Papua. The Papuans' experiences of systemic violence, discrimination, resource appropriation, marginalization, neglect of rights to self-determination are ignored.
Church leaders do not see Papuans as the oppressed, the ones that they are preaching about, the ones that are severely in need of solidarity and liberation. Instead, they maintain harmony with the government, believing that listening to the cries of Papuans might jeopardize their relationship with the government.
Despite the silence of the institutional churches, the grass-roots church groups in Papua managed to grow and consolidate. The basis for those movements is similar to the independence declarations in Indonesia's 1945 Constitutions: "independence/freedom is the inalienable right of all nations, therefore, all colonialism must be abolished in this world as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice".
This struggle for self-determination has strong Christian foundations, as eloquently summarized by the theologian and anthropologist, the Rev. Giay: "The Christian faith proclaimed by the church has provided a great power of faith to the people who live under the oppressions."
The church and the Bible are felt as the power of emancipation. Christian salvation and liberation is not understood as a matter of heaven, but liberation from human rights violence, discrimination, and marginalization.
These communities and grass-root churches delink themselves from the authority assumed by the state and corporations, and followed by mainstream churches. They established other visions of a good life in which survival, well-being and dignity of the people, their nature, and culture is the priority.
As another Papuan human rights advocate, a Catholic woman Yosepha Alomang puts it: "The church is a mother, who should be here in the everyday life of her children, giving them life, protecting them when they are threatened, defending them when they are discriminated, and walk with them toward a decent life."
It is this political faith and theology of liberation in which the religious gathering at the inauguration of indigenous council's office in Wamena was held.
Papuans are wondering how church leaders — in Papua and Jakarta — will react to this fact. The question the institutional churches need to answer is do they stand with those who exploit the rich land and resources that rightfully belong to the Papuan people or do they stand with the Papuan people themselves.
This is the test of history for the churches in Papua and Indonesia in general.
Cypri Jehan Paju Dale is an author and researcher at the Institute of Social Anthropology, Bern University, Switzeland.
2) West Papuans Seeks Ghana’s Support to Break Away From Indonesia
West Papuans have made a desperate call to Top Ghanaian officials to help them In the fight for liberation from Indonesia. The Spokesman for the West Papuan Liberation Movement (WPLM), Benny Wanda joined Ghanaians to celebrate the country’s 59 independence anniversary. He met with prominent people and top officials like former Presidents J.A Kuffuor and J.J Rawlings to dialogue on how effectively they could help liberate west Papua from Indonesia. In a statement released they claimed they wanted the freedom to have their own culture, language, education and relate to their African roots as they are so different from the people of Indonesia.
“It is important that humanity should be central to everything. As a human being you are entitled to humanity. In due course humanity will prevail and you will be free. The whole world will support you. Not even Indonesia can stop it……… see yourselves as Africans……. Despite the distances between our places we are the same. Clearly you are not Indonesian.” -Former president J.J Kuffuor stated.
Again Former President Jerry John Rawlings has also pledged his support to fight for the independence of the West Papuans.
He said “we are honoured to fight for your people. We share a similar history.It is no surprise to me that you had support from Ghana at the UN in 1969 and that we accepted West Papuan refugees in the 1980’s. West Africa has seen slavery, colonial struggles and independence. I suggest that you contact and lobby every congressman, senator and parliamentarian. The European Commission, the AU and all organisations. Keep knocking and knock again, don’t let them sleep. We will contribute by reminding them West Papuan needs its freedom…Keep fighting”
West Papua (Indonesian: Papua Barat) is a province of Indonesia. It covers the two western peninsulas of the island of New Guinea. Its capital is Manokwari, although the largest city is Sorong, and the 2010 census recorded a population of 760,855;[1] the latest official estimate (as at January 2014) is 877,437.
West Papua Province was created from the western portion of Papua (province) in February 2003, initially under the name of West Irian Jaya’ (Indonesian: Irian Jaya Barat); it received its current name in 2007. The province covers the Bird’s Head (Doberai) and Bomberai peninsulas and the surrounding islands of Raja Ampat. With a population of 877,437 in 2014,[1] it is the least populous province of Indonesia except for the newly created province of North Kalimantan
Source: Care-news

3) Indonesia rights body urges  Obama to open secret US  files - 
Matthew Pennington, Associated Press, Washington | National | Fri, March 11 2016, 4:29 PM - 

The Indonesia that Barack Obama lived in as a child bore fresh scars from the darkest period in country's modern history. Shortly before Obama's arrival in 1967, hundreds of thousands of people had been killed in a bloody anti-communist purge.

Now Indonesian human rights officials want Obama's help in addressing unanswered questions about the bloodshed 50 years ago. They are requesting the declassification of secret US files that could shed light on how the killings were planned and the extent that the United States collaborated with Indonesia's military.

Despite nearly two decades of civilian rule, the prevailing account in Indonesia of those events remains the one planted by the military regime that swept to power after the killings, led by the dictator Suharto who ruled for 30 years. Indonesian text books portray it as a national uprising against a communist threat, and gloss over the deaths.

Joko Widodo, the first directly elected Indonesian president without links to Suharto, ran as a reformer who would look into episodes of military impunity, but since taking office in 2014, he has not pressed the issue due to opposition within his own government and the still-powerful military.

Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission in 2012 reported there was evidence that crimes against humanity were committed during the 1965-1966 crackdown, but the attorney general took no action.

Commissioner Muhammad Nurkhoiron met this week with State Department officials and has made a formal request to Obama that says the release of files from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other agencies will help in "encouraging the Indonesian government to redouble its own efforts to establish the truth" and promote reconciliation.

"We need the US to immediately release those documents to help our efforts," Nurkhoiron said in an interview. He said when Obama leaves office early next year, momentum for US action could be lost.

Myles Caggins, a National Security Council spokesman, said it will review the commission's request. He said the administration supports the declassification of any relevant documents from the period which do not pose a national security risk. The US has already released many documents related to the period, but has withheld others.

The killings began in October 1965 shortly after an apparent abortive coup in which six right-wing generals were murdered. Suharto, an unknown major general at the time, filled the power vacuum and blamed the assassinations on Indonesia's Communist Party, which was then the largest outside the Soviet Union and China, with some 3 million members. No conclusive proof of communist involvement in the coup has been produced.

In his 1995 best-selling memoir, "Dreams From My Father," Obama recounted how his mother, who had moved them to Jakarta after marrying an Indonesian, learned about the recent killings through "innuendo, half-whispered asides." In words that still ring true, Obama wrote: "The death toll was anybody's guess: a few hundred thousand, maybe; half a million."

At that time, the Vietnam War was intensifying, and Washington's fears of communist takeovers in Southeast Asia were running high. Previously declassified State Department documents indicate that the US Embassy in Jakarta passed the names of dozens of Communist Party leaders to the Indonesian army. Redacted meeting notes from a National Security Council covert action committee that were declassified last month — the result of a 2004 freedom of information request from a U.S. historian — show that the US endorsed "obstructive action" against the Communist Party.

The historian, Brad Simpson from the University of Connecticut, said the US organized covert operations aiming to provoke a violent clash so the Indonesian army would crush the communists. Once the killings had started, the US sent technical assistance and clear signals that it supported the killings, he said.

But Simpson said releasing more detailed information would likely make clearer that the primary responsibility for killings lay with the Indonesian military and state, and not the United States. It could shed light on the command and control structure of the Indonesian armed forces, who was actually carrying out the killings in particular places, and the degree of coordination that was involved between the Indonesian army and its civilian supporters and affiliates.

"The more we release, the less tenable will be the conspiracy theories about the US role," Simpson said.

Thomas Blanton, director of the nongovernment National Security Archive, said the Obama administration has quite a good track record on declassifying documents for human rights accountability, as it did last October for Chile, revealing that former dictator Augusto Pinochet ordered the 1976 assassination of a Chilean diplomat.

But he said the US was unlikely to act without a strong push from the Indonesian government, particularly as some of the documents being sought are closely guarded CIA operational files.

That appears unlikely, as the bloodshed of 50 years ago, which is believed to have caught up many with only tenuous communist links, remains a deeply sensitive topic in Indonesia.

Authorities have in some cases blocked public viewings of two recent Oscar-nominated documentaries by the filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, who tracked down former death squad members and found them unashamed, unrepentant and even willing to re-enact their brutal murders. (+) -

No comments:

Post a Comment