Wednesday, March 9, 2016

1) New Catholic report tells stories of murder, kidnapping and torture in West Papua

2) Tolikara Provides Rp 2 Billion for Victims of Karubaga Dispute
3) Exploring the lightly populated, truly wild landscapes of Indonesian Papua

1) New Catholic report tells stories of murder, kidnapping and torture in West Papua
March 9, 2016
ALLEGATIONS of recent military and police intimidation, beatings and torture, kidnapping and murder in West Papua, have been documented in a new Church report.
The report documents Muslims being radicalised in the once predominantly Christian Papuan provinces, and “very active” Muslim militias that burn down Papuan houses.
The report was compiled by the Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission’s Shadow Human Rights Fact Finding Mission to West Papua, following a visit to West Papua last month. 
It has not yet been publicly released, nor comment sought from Indonesian authorities.
The report documents religious, social and economic discrimination including how the carve up of land for major development has benefited multinationals and excluded Papuans from ownership and jobs.
It refers to a slow motion genocide happening 250km north of Australia and states that “the Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam”.
The report author Josephite Sister Susan Connelly was accompanied to West Papua by Brisbane archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission executive officer Peter Arndt.
During their fact-finding mission they interviewed more than 250 community leaders in Japapura, Merauke, Timika and Sorong.
Sr Connelly, a respected human rights advocate, likened her visit to West Papua to “stepping back twenty years when I first went to East Timor”.
“The same oppressive security presence everywhere, the same suspicion, bewilderment, frustration and sadness,” she said.
“The same fear. The same seemingly groundless hope.
“A man took my hands in his and said, ‘We are in danger’. That simple statement sums up for me the experience of the whole visit. 
“The Papuan people have lost so much, and are facing erasure as a people, merely preserved as oddities of the past or artifacts to be photographed for tourist brochures. 
“They realise that their land is considered more valuable than they are.”
The fact-finding team heard many accounts of alleged military and police brutality and murder. 
“There is clear evidence of ongoing violence, intimidation and harassment by the Indonesian security forces,” Mr Arndt said on his return to Brisbane.
“That is especially the case for Papuans expressing their support for particular political points of view.
“Authorities want to close down any Papuan efforts to promote discussion about self-determination, and they have applied a military response to deal with the irrepressible desire of a large number of Papuans to promote their cause for freedom.”
Based on his interviews across West Papua, Mr Arndt (pictured) identified the instigators of alleged human rights violations as members of the Indonesian army including Kopassus, police including a special counter insurgency unit, Detachment 88, and Indonesia’s intelligence agency, BIN.
“Even demonstrations about social issues such as access to education get broken up by authorities,” he said.
The fact-finding team heard many examples of how the Indonesian Government pushed economic development, but ignored human rights. 
 “The Government has carved up the land and given it for exploitation to some 50 multinational companies,” the report said.
“The procedure is that the local government invites companies to come and gives permits. 
“People are usually shocked when the companies come to sign a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with them, showing them the permit and the map. 
“If the villagers don’t agree to the proposal, the company goes back to the local government and returns with the police.” 
In the 1970s, ethnic Papuans accounted for 96 per cent of the population. 
Today they are a minority 48 per cent, because of the rapid migration of Indonesians from other more populated islands such as Java. 
The report found that Papuans were now marginalised economically at the expense of immigrants, the majority of whom are Muslims.
The report said there was “a movement for Muslims from Indonesia to replace Papuans in every sector”.
“The Indonesians want to replace the Christian religion with Islam. Many mosques are being built everywhere. They want Papua to be a Javanese Malay nation,” the report said.
“Radicalisation is happening in Papua, with some militias very active near the border with PNG. 
“They burn down the Papuan houses. They are recruited as illegal loggers. Their camps and logging are well protected by the military.
 “The military are certainly killing the people, and closed access to opportunity to Papuans in all areas of life constitutes a slow motion genocide.
“The general opinion encountered was that Indonesia is a total failure regarding Papua and is just another coloniser. 
“The Indonesian Government does not give opportunities to Papuan people or protect them. 
“It was said that most Church leaders try to deal with the problems one by one, but the whole picture should be looked at as a series of policies designed to overcome the Papuan people. 
“In every sector of government the system is composed of Indonesian tactics to destroy the Papuans. 
“Beatings and torture are used, but also the economic aspects of lack of opportunity, the sidelining of the indigenous peoples, the taking over of land by companies … are part of the plan.”

Accusations in the report

  • A young, wealthy businessman poisoned in 2015. He had financially supported building an office for the National Committee for West Papua, an independence-oriented group. He also funded Papuans being sent to international conferences.
  • A Papuan woman activist arrested in 2015 by police for holding a prayer service in support of an international conference in London. She and her group were interrogated for five hours.
  • In January this year, 27 Papuan palm oil workers were allegedly tortured by the Indonesian army’s special force Kopassus. The men had previously complained to their company bosses after they had not been paid for two months. 
  • A man aged 35 who used to work for Papua’s Freeport gold mine was kidnapped in 2015, killed, and his body thrown on the street. There was no sign of torture and the police told his family that it was an accident. 
  • Police and military broke up community activities such as prayer meetings. 
  • In September 2015, 18-year-old Daniel Bowgow was killed. His father was a local prayer meeting leader. 
  • People reported they couldn’t move freely at night to search for food for fear of being kidnapped. The military and police use Papuan informers to let them know of people’s movements.
 By Mark Bowling
2) Tolikara Provides Rp 2 Billion for Victims of Karubaga Dispute

9 March 2016

                                                                  Tolikara regency –

Jayapura, Jubi – The Tolikara government has allocated Rp 2 billion to compensate storeowners whose kioses were burned during a riot on 17 July 2015 at Karubaga.
“It would be disbursed no later than the end of March,” Tolikara Regional Secretary Daan Flassy said in Jayapura on Sunday (6/3/2016).
He said the delay in disbursing the money intended for starting a business was because it was only approved in the 2016 Budget, and that each victim will receive Rp 30 million.
The fact is the amount is limited considering the kiosks were entirely burned down in the incident.
“Hopefully later the amount of fund could be added therefore they could restart their business,” said Flassy.
When asked about many kiosks have not been placed yet, he admitted it was happened because of many victims had difficulties with the capital. But with the provision of business capital, the new sixty-four kiosks were expected to be placed sooner, he said.
Tolikara Regional Government built the kiosks for 64 owners whose kiosks were burned in the incident that killed a resident. (*/rom)
3) Exploring the lightly populated, truly wild landscapes of Indonesian Papua
Stuart Butler  March 9, 2016 Updated: March 9, 2016 12:27 PM
The old man holds up his fingers for me to count. Three on one hand, and four on the other hand. “What happened?" I ask. “Did you lose the others in an accident?" “No", he replies. “I did it myself. I got a rock, and I smashed each finger off."
The man looks out across a landscape of ruptured valleys swirling with afternoon mist and abruptly rising mountain peaks. “Each missing finger represents a child of mine that has died. It’s our custom to do this".
I’m walking through the hills of the southern Baliem Valley in Papua. Papua is the Indonesian half of the enormous island of New Guinea (the other half being Papua New Guinea). It’s ­Indonesia’s forgotten corner, but if you ask the Papuans, it’s not really a part of Indonesia at all. The people are Melanesian rather than Asiatic, and the region has only been a part of Indonesia for the past few decades.
Culturally, this is a world away from the rest of Indonesia. ­Papuans are primarily ­Christian or animist – most of the rest of Indonesia is Muslim. They eat differently. Gone is the rice of the rest of Indonesia, and in comes sweet potatoes and roasts. They dress differently, too. Sometimes very differently. Traditional dress, which is still fairly common in the remote and mountainous interior, should perhaps better be called traditional undress – women often go about topless, and men are normally totally naked but for a bit of jewellery and a sheath-like wooden gourd.
With such glaring differences between Papuans and other ­Indonesians, it’s perhaps not surprising that the relationship between Papuans and the central government in Jakarta has often been fraught. There’s an active, armed independence movement. Although tourists haven’t been a target of this violence, and all main tourist areas are calm and safe to visit, the political situation can lead to restrictions on visiting remoter areas. 
Flying from the big coastal city, and Papua’s main town, of Jayapura into the Baliem Valley, you look down on thick, brown, python-like coiling rivers, clogging lowland forests and, gradually, ever-growing serrated lines of jagged mountains, which in places are plastered in shrinking glaciers and dustings of snow. The one thing you don’t see are roads, towns and villages. From the air you will likely come to the conclusion that the interior of Papua is a lightly populated, truly wild land. Your assumption would be correct.
There are maybe only a handful of pockets left on this planet where entire landscapes can remain unseen by outside eyes, where new species of animal are hiding and where uncontacted tribes might still exist. The interior of Papua is one such place. It was only in the late 1930s that the massive, and for the Papua interior, fairly densely populated Baliem Valley was first discovered by the outside world. When the first explorers stepped foot in this valley, Baliem was still a real Jurassic world, where headhunting was a part and parcel of life, and people still worked bones and stones into tools.
Today, it’s the centre of Papuan cultural and trekking tourism, and the only bone tools you’ll see being made are aimed strictly at a tourist souvenir market. That’s not to say that the past has been totally forgotten. There are plenty of older folk who still recall days of old, and cultural festivals are enthusiastically celebrated by all the inhabitants of the valley – the big event in the cultural calendar is the Baliem Valley Festival, which is held in mid-August, and has mock tribal battles and spectacular traditional tribal dress. Although headhunting, which was never as common as the outside world likes to think, is now forbidden, there are many other cultural traditions kept alive by young and old alike.
For one exhilarating week, I walk (with a guide and a couple of porters) through the mountain peaks that rise up from the southern end of the Baliem Valley. We cross terrifying, raging rivers on rickety wooden bridges that swing in the breeze, and clamber and pant up slopes so high and steep that my eyeballs start sweating. Invariably, these climbs are followed by a descent down into a neighbouring valley on a trail so sheer that my knees jar with every downwards step.
No matter how tiring the walking gets, though, the scenery always rewards. There are mist-dressed forests of pine trees, terraced slopes of sweet potatoes (the staple food of the highlands), meadows filled with bird song and wild flowers, crashing waterfalls, and seemingly always over the next ridge, the barren rock and ice-slopes of the highest peaks in this part of the world.
But as memorable as the scenery is, it’s the opportunity to witness something of local Dani life – the predominate tribe in this part of Papua – that’s the highlight of the trek. Old men, naked but for gourds, work in their fields; women carry children on their backs; young men with bows and arrows return from hunting missions in the forests; nights are spent in smoky huts listening, spellbound, to elders tell tales from the days of old.
Papua turns out to be more than just muddy mountain trails and the Dani’s thatch villages, though. As I discover when I fly from the bracing highland air to the sultry Raja Ampat Islands, Papua is also turquoise waters as warm and still as a bath, ­drooping coconut palms, beaches with sand the colour and texture of sugar, and coral reefs with such an explosive diversity of life that they’re fast getting a reputation for the world’s best diving.
Indeed, the marine life in the Raja Ampat Islands is so abundant, I don’t even need to don a snorkel and mask to appreciate the drama of the underwater world.
On my first morning in the islands, I walk 50 metres along the wooden jetty of the dive resort in which I’m staying. ­Looking down into the thigh-deep waters, I see half a dozen baby black-tipped reef sharks menacing the blennies in the jetty cast shade.
Later that day, after several hours diving and snorkelling through rushing, swirling, massing shoals of fish thousands strong, and several encounters with the mummies and daddies of the baby sharks I saw earlier, I sit talking with the man who had first explored, mapped and realised the importance of these reefs a decade or so ago. He explains how the coral gardens of the Raja Ampat Islands were essentially the nursery grounds for the reefs of all the eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific, and that in many ways, this is the single most important reef system in the world.
Digging his heels into the sand, he says: “People around the world now know that the Raja Ampat Islands are special, but really all of Papua is special, and we’ll continue to discover new species of plants and animals here for years to come".
Looking out toward another oil-painting sunset, he finishes our conversation by merely saying: “Papua is unlike anywhere else in the world." That’s something I certainly can’t argue with.

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