Friday, May 13, 2016

1) Indonesian crackdown on West Papuan independence protest

2) The Road to Freedom for West Papua

3) West Papua police chief warns about illegal fishing

4) Democratic Party Endorses Bill on Special Autonomy Plus

5) Brimob and how the Yerisiam Gua people’s sago groves were cleared.

The Saturday Paper

1) Indonesian crackdown on West Papuan independence protest


The harassment, beating and jailing of independence protesters by Indonesian authorities in Papua continues, while Australia turns a blind eye.

West Papua independence protesters, on May 2, in Jayapura.   Facebook
On Monday, May 2, amid the fallout from the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling the Australian detention centre on Manus Island unlawful, another momentous thing happened. Further west along the Papua New Guinea north coast, just over the border with Indonesia in the Papuan capital, Jayapura, 1500 people were arrested. It barely rated a mention here.
It was the largest mass arrest of pro-independence demonstrators in Papua, and included the arrest of demonstrators in the regional centres of Sorong, Merauke, Wamena, Fak-Fak and Manokwari. Arrests were made at similar rallies in Semarang in Java and Makassar in South Sulawesi. In all, 1888 people were arrested for demonstrating for independence. Photos and video circulating both on social media and local media show the masses of people arrested in Jayapura and taken to the Indonesian police compound – forced to sit in rows in the heat and made to remove their clothes.

According to local journalist Benny Mawel, reporting for Tabloid Jubi, the treatment of some of those detained was very rough. Activists were separated from the main group and put in cells at the main police headquarters. They were beaten – police stamping on their chests and backs and hitting them in the head with rifle butts. They were threatened with death and stripped of their clothes. The Papua police chief, Paulus Waterpauw, confirmed to Tabloid Jubi that some activists had been injured. The same outlet also reported beatings at the police headquarters in nearby Abepura, where more demonstrators were detained. “They tortured and arrested us at 9am in Lingkaran Abepura. They took us into the armoured truck and told us to raise our hands,” activist Arim Tabuni said. “They beat us on the chest and head, mostly on the chest. So we looked not hurt.” The demonstrators, both male and female, were stripped of their clothes and threatened.
Papuan leader Reverend Benny Giay, who was involved in negotiating the peaceful release of the majority of the demonstrators later in the day, wrote this week that: “Every protest and negotiation effort by indigenous people is met with brutal responses and security operations. In talking about West Papua, the Indonesian government often uses language that obscures past abuses. Papua’s relationship with the outside world is heavily controlled”.

I know all about that. Working there in 2002 as a journalist collecting information for a Quarterly Essay I was constantly harassed, followed, threatened and generally intimidated by the Indonesian military, police and intelligence services. Trying to interview Papuan leaders who were espousing nonviolence as a path to independence at the time was enough to have me tailed, and to fear that those I interviewed would be under threat. The intimidation and surveillance was quite open, down to the simple tactic of a police informant sitting on a bench outside my room at a guesthouse and following me wherever I went, occasionally giving me dagger looks and drawing his finger across his throat in a slitting gesture. It was as subtle as a brick in the head.
Of course, they were noting who I was trying to contact, who I was trying to speak to. It was much worse when I returned the following year, in 2003. There was one incident outside the southern town of Merauke near the PNG border where I really thought a soldier who waved down my hired car and got inside and started threatening me with his weapon was going to kill me in that remote spot. Knowing the United States and Australia would not object, as they were busy fighting the war in Iraq, the Indonesians banned foreign journalists from Papua in 2003. Restrictions remain in place today.
Local journalists are under great threat and intimidation. On Tuesday, media advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) issued a statement condemning the arrest of a local journalist in the Jayapura protests and the prevention of other journalists covering the mass detention. The organisation quoted unnamed local journalists as saying police told them they were under orders to keep journalists away from the site. Police Commissioner Mathius Fakhiri was named as directly issuing the order to remove journalists, who were greeted by about 20 police wielding wooden batons to keep them away. Benjamin Ismail, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said: “We condemn this violence and censorship of local journalists, whose coverage of these demonstrations was in the public interest. President Joko Widodo’s promises now sound emptier than ever. After the recent banning of a French journalist who had been reporting in Papua in a completely legal manner, we now have yet further evidence that the authorities continue to censor and control media coverage arbitrarily.”

Earlier reports by RSF have documented and protested at the treatment of the few foreign journalists who have managed to get into Papua, as well as the harassment and intimidation of their local translators, drivers and fixers. If you ask Indonesian officials, they will say there is no press ban in Papua, you just have to go through the right process. But the complicated, lengthy and often futile series of permissions from anyone within Indonesian foreign affairs, or its police, military and intelligence services, means permission is rarely granted and strictly controlled. President Widodo promised to alleviate this but nothing has changed. Journalists are still getting arrested and deported. If they try to enter on a tourist visa, they are jailed. Local journalists are still harassed, monitored and jailed.
The Indonesian military are so concerned that Papua will be subject to international calls for independence they spy on everybody who takes an interest in Papuan events, politics and human rights. In 2011, leaked documents revealed that even though I hadn’t been to or reported on Papua since 2003 I was on a list of “Foreign Networks/Foreign Leaders in support of Free Papua” held by the Indonesian army special forces group, Kopassus. I came in at No. 9 on the list of Australians. Thirty-one other Australians were named, including then Greens leader Bob Brown at No. 13. The list identified current and former US senators. It also mentioned Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and members of the British parliament, Lord Avebury and Jeremy Corbyn. Also on the list were former PNG prime minister Sir Michael Somare, and former Vanuatu foreign minister Sir Barak Sope. In all, it lists 248 politicians, academics, environmentalists, journalists, artists and clergy, from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain, the US, Germany, Finland, Ireland, the European Union, PNG and Vanuatu, calling them “the supporters of Papuan separatists”.

The reasons for the demonstrations last week were to both mark the 1963 annexation of Dutch New Guinea (Papua) when Indonesian troops arrived displacing the Dutch, and to show support for a broad coalition of groups campaigning for independence.
The arrested protesters were also showing support for the meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in London. The meeting, attended by ministers from Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, the prime minister of Tonga and the group’s co-founder, now British opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, came out with an emphatic resolution: “The UN must be allowed to organise a referendum to allow the people of West Papua to choose between acknowledging the incorporation of their country into Indonesia or voting for independence.” It was the resolution and the high-profile recognition that has been demanded by the broad coalition of groups supporting independence for Papua for years. These groups also demanded that the international community, in the form of non-government organisations, media and international peacekeepers, be allowed access to Papua to monitor the process and the human rights situation.
Australia has made no comment on the declaration, and the Indonesian embassy in Canberra dismissed it in a statement as a “publicity stunt”.

Australia remains silent on both the arrests in Papua, the historical and current abuses by the Indonesian military there, and the calls for UN involvement and a resolution to the ongoing violence and isolation by Indonesia of Papua. Unlike in the late 1990s, when we finally intervened in East Timor and our conservative leaders claimed moral capital for its “liberation” from Indonesian abuses, our moral bank is empty. The Indonesians can always point to Manus and say they only arrested and beat pro-independence protesters for a day or so. Australia does it indefinitely just down the coast. Maybe that was why the story didn’t get much of a run.
Papua, sadly for its long-suffering population, was one of the most intimidating places I have ever worked. I was in Iraq at the height of the American occupation, Sri Lanka at the height of the campaign to crush the Tamils, Burma at the height of the campaign against Aung San Suu Kyi, East Timor and Aceh under the Indonesians, Afghanistan in Taliban-controlled areas. But never have I seen a people more systematically oppressed and isolated than the West Papuans by the Indonesian military and intelligence services. And it is still happening.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 14, 2016 as "Silenced protest". 
2) The Road to Freedom for West Papua
 05/13/2016 02:10 pm ET | Updated 1 hour ago
    Benny Wenda

Benny Wenda is West Papua’s independence leader, International Spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and founder of the Free West Papua Campaign. He lives in exile in the UK.

A historic step on the road to freedom for West Papua took place in London last week. At a meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in the Houses of Parliament, a new declaration was signed calling for an internationally supervised vote on the independence of West Papua.
Delegates came from around the world to attend this historic meeting on West Papua’s future. The meeting was briefed by parliamentarians, lawyers and academics, all of whom discussed and affirmed the West Papuan people’s fundamental right to self-determination. 
Amongst those in attendance was the UK Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a founding member of International Parliamentarians for West Papua. Adding his support to calls for an internationally supervised vote on independence, he also noted the recommendation calling for a visit by to West Papua by the UN special rapporteur, the reinstatement of NGOs in the region and questioning of international companies working in West Papua.
Since their occupation of West Papua in the 1960s, the Indonesian military has made West Papua a land of ongoing military operations. It is estimated that over 500,000 West Papuan people have been killed in the genocide that Indonesia is committing in West Papua, and the killing and torture continues with reports of human rights abuses coming out on an almost daily basis. 

Known as the Paniai Massacre, it drew widespread condemnation from the international community and human rights groups. However, to date not one single Indonesian solider has been brought to justice for this heinous crime against humanity. In fact, the Indonesian Government have forced all foreign NGOs to leave West Papua. One can only conclude that this is an attempt to try and stop news of further killings being investigated.
The Chairperson of the Law Enforcement and Human Rights Advocacy in West Papua, himself stated recently that such military operations are evidence that the Indonesian government is not able to resolve the issues in West Papua. Calling for a political approach rather than simply a military or developmental approach, he said that operations like this will “result in more human rights violations” and would “add to the bad image of Indonesia in the eyes of the world.”
But amidst all the suffering, there is also hope. Just days after the landmark Westminster meeting on West Papuan self-determination, there was more historic support for the people of West Papua as yesterday the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare announced that he had met with Vanuatu Prime Minister Hon. Charlot Salwai and that together they had reaffirmed their backing for The United Liberation Movement for West Papua - ULMWP.
One of the most shocking massacres occurred less than 18 months ago, when a group of West Papuan school children were massacred by the Indonesian military.
On the issue of urgent UN intervention in West Papua, Prime Minister Sogavare said the Indonesian President’s apparent rejection of the resolution reached by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders in Port Moresby in 2015 for the deployment of a fact-finding mission in West Papua as well as the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet with him in his capacity as the MSG Chair to explain the position of the MSG on the issue of West Papua are very strong grounds warranting the MSG to take the matter to the United Nations.
He said Indonesia was granted Associate membership of the MSG to allow for dialogue between Jakarta and the MSG Leaders on the issue of West Papua, and the Indonesian President’s refusal of his request to meet with him regarding MSG’s position on West Papua is a clear indication that it has another reason for joining the MSG.
Such true Melanesian solidarity is unbreakable and the people of West Papua are filled with hope and gratitude at the strong, unwavering support that is increasingly being shown to them and their cause from right across Melanesia. We would like to convey our deepest thanks once again to Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands and Hon. Charlot Salwai, Prime Minister of Vanuatu for their consistent solidarity and compassion for the people of West Papua and the struggle for self-determination.
For over 50 years the people of West Papua have been forced to suffer in silence, but our voice is finally being heard and justice is within sight. We are gaining support from all corners of the globe and we know that the power of truth and justice is on our side. We will be free people again. Nothing and no one can stop this movement.
Follow Benny Wenda on Twitter:

3) West Papua police chief warns about illegal fishing
6:41 am today
The police chief in Indonesia's West Papua province has warned about the prevalence of illegal fishing in the region.
Tabloid Jubi reports Royke Lumowa as saying illegal fishing should continue to be a concern for both central and local governments, suggesting that inaction would allow the problem to become rampant.
He said that because the remoteness of West Papua, as well as lack of resources for police to monitor the waters, a lot of illegal fishing went unchecked.
Mr Royke said that to counter illegal fishing, local police needed the help of the Navy, the Marine Department and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, especially in terms of equipment.
He explained that most illegal fishing in West Papua tended to occur around Sorong in New Guinea's far west.
Since 2014, Indonesia has re-activated its policy of burning foreign vessels caught illegally fishing in its waters.
Indonesian officials claim the country could be earning a lot more from its overall fishery if illegal fishing was properly countered.

4) Democratic Party Endorses Bill on Special Autonomy Plus

9 May 2016

Jayapura, Jubi – The Democratic Party has agreed to endorse the Bill on the Special Autonomy Plus in 2017 after the Indonesian House of Representatives failed to discuss it in 2014 and 2015.
“The Democrats will be at the front to fight for it. It won’t be negotiable. If the last government didn’t submit it, but starting today, through Rakorda –Regional Coordination Meeting–, it is a momentum to fight on the bill as the best solution for Papua,” said the Secretary General of Democrat Party Hinca Panjaitan in Jayapura on last week.
He also instructed DPP, DPD and the entire DPC, regents and mayors and the entire Democratic faction and governors to unite behind the bill.
“As the secretary general, I will listen all information and report to the general chairman and ask the fraction at the Indonesian House of Representatives to put it into the agenda and pursue it as the issue to be discussed in the next meeting,” he said.
“Don’t worry, the Democrat Party must be at front for the Bill on the Papua Special Autonomy Plus, and as the Secretary General of Democrat Party, I will take a lead,” he added.
Meanwhile DPD Chairman of Democrat Party in Papua Lukas Enembe who also the Papua Governor said along his administrative since 2013, the Special Autonomy Plus would be a right solution to overcome the social issues in Papua.
“Currently, the Papuan issue has become an incredible international issue, moreover people are shouting for Free Papua. The Special Autonomy Plus would become the affirmative action to address this issue,” he said.
Enembe hoped Papua would not be exploited for other political interest, because Papua is equal like other provinces. Therefore he requested Papua to be trusted to conduct its development on its own. (*/rom)

5) Brimob and how the Yerisiam Gua people’s sago groves were cleared.

Sima, 11 May 2016 – During a discussion on Monday 9th May community representatives were asked if they agreed with PT Nabire Baru’s statement that police mobile brigade (Brimob) were stationed on the company’s premises because the community had requested their presence. They instantly replied that they didn’t.
“How could we have asked for them? How could bringing in Brimob to work as security guards be anything to do with us? We have never asked Brimob to come here. Actually their presence makes us feel nervous, not safe”, said Karel Maniba during the discussion.
The community were protesting the presence of Brimob guards who protect the company’s operations fully armed, causing anxiety within the community. Brimob were seen on the ground when the Manawari sago grove was first cleared on 12th April 2016.
That day Enos Abujani was the first to notice two excavators clearing the sago grove and immediately went to tell his neighbours. Armed Brimob guards were there, watching over the land clearing.
Around 550 square metres were cleared on the 12th April 2016, including 15 stands of sago palms. “I felt my stomach churning as I watched them work. It was as if they were destroying the contents of my stomach”, said Gunawan Inggeruhi who joined three other community members in protesting the land clearance the following day. [The sago palm is the staple food of lowland Papuans].
The community challenged the land clearance four times. On the 16th April, as the company still hadn’t stopped work, they went both morning and afternoon to complain.
“It’s just that sago grove that we are asking they don’t clear. Because that is our livelihood. If I pound the sago inside the trunk, I can get 100,000 Rupiah, I can buy the things I need, such as salt, MSG, soap. If the grove is cleared I feel I have lost out, I feel sorrow, as if I have been stripped naked”, said Mama Yakomina Manuburi, holding back her anger.
Some community members have already been to ask members of the District Legislative Council (DPRD) to help, or have sent complains about this problem to the Nabire police chief. A representative of DPRD Commission I has been to visit the area. However, neither the council or the police chief have shown any clear will to stop the sago groves being cleared.
The Yerisiam Gua community collect signatures to save the Sago Groves
The Yerisiam Gua indigenous group have collected 110 signatures supporting their opposition to the clearance of the sacred Manawari sago groves around Sima village, in Yaur sub-district by PT Nabire Baru.
The signatures were collected on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th May, as a response to a letter from the company which stated that opposition within the Yerisiam community was only coming from a handful of people and had been provoked by certain individuals.
“This company is pretty smart at deception, everything it says in the letter is incorrect. There are currently quite a lot of people who know about the company’s lies and oppose its presence here”, said Yance Maniburi irritatedly when the letter of response was read out in the discussion between representatives of the Yerisiam Gua indigenous group on Tuesday.
Nabire Baru’s parent company Goodhope Holdings were responding to a protest letter from the Yerisiam Gua community concerning the company’s presence and the work being carried out. The company did not give a specific response concerning its current clearance of sacred sago groves.
In the letter addressed to Forest Peoples Programme and dated 29th April 2016, Aditia Insani from Goodhope said that PT Nabire Baru had settled all issues of community rights, was in possession of all the required permits and had corporate social responsibility programmes in place.
He also stated that Brimob were stationed in the company’s area because local people had requested protection from the threat of armed groups.
“Brimob forces are not involved in acts of violence”, Aditia said in the letter.
On the 19th April, the Yerisiam Gua commuity sent a letter protesting about PT Nabire Baru to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, via Yayasan Pusaka. The complaint was in connection with the expansion of the company’s work area to include the sacred Manawari sago grove and the presence of Brimob guards which was causing anxiety within the community.
According to Y.L. Franky, Director of Yayasan Pusaka who forwarded the Yerisiam Gua people’s request, four issues form the basis for the community’s position.
Firstly, PT Nabire Baru has from the outset attempted to win the support of a small group of community members to release community lands, without a general meeting or the agreement of the wider Yerisiam community which holds the land rights.
Secondly The Yerisiam indigenous community have repeatedly complained and spoken of the problems of this land expropriation, their suffering and losses and the violent practices used by Brimob security guards in their approach to these problems, but the government and company have ignored and failed to respect the community’s complaints or opinions about these matters.
Thirdly, the company has cleared ecologically important natural forest resulting in deforestation, and as a result the community have lost a source of income, and there has been recent serious flooding inundating Sima village where the Yerisiam people live.
Fourthly, the company’s attempts to clear the sacred Jarae and Manawari sago groves, contravening an agreement made with the community in February 2016 which opposed a smallholder scheme in the sago area.
The company had promised not to disturb the sago groves. “Previously they said that they would leave the sago groves as an enclave owned by the Yerisiam people”, said Agus Henawi. “But it seems as if their objective is to finish us off”.
The Yerisiam Gua community have stressed that the promises PT Nabire Baru made since it commenced its investment have still not been fulfilled.
“Right at the beginning they promised to build a school, a church and houses but not one of these promises has been met yet”, said Mrs Yance Rumbiak.
She feels that since the company arrived the people have been made to suspect each other, causing divisions within families, setting people against one another and making village life uncomfortable.
Zely Ariane reporting from Sima Village, Nabire.

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