Thursday, September 8, 2016

1) Pacific NGO lobbies hard for West Papua


2) West Papua leader optimistic about Forum leaders action
3) Papuans to wait another day for development

4) Indonesian government to investigate Korean palm oil giant over burning in Papua
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1) Pacific NGO lobbies hard for West Papua


                                          Photo  from Islands Business post
By Samisoni Pareti at the 47th Pacific Islands Forum in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.
Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia -- Pacific civil society organisation representatives have put in a strong bid for Pacific leaders to support the involvement of the United Nations in the case of the people of West Papua.
This was one of the key points CSO reps submitted during their scheduled breakfast meeting in Pohnpei today with members of the Pacific Islands Forum troika, comprising the past, current and future chair of the 16-member island group.
Outgoing chair and Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neil was absent from today’s breakfast as he is not due to arrive into the FSM until later today. His Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato stood in for him.
“What was encouraging in the dialogue was the consideration and the recognition that the United Nations process is available,” head of the Pacific Islands NGO Association, Emele Duituturaga told journalists at the end of the breakfast meeting.
“We detected an acceptance that this possibly could be one of the pathways. I think the difference is that up until now, we always thought this is a Melanesian issue. In our recommendations, we tried to assist our leaders recognise some of the bilateral arrangements, bilateral assistance that somehow might be hindering the options we need to look at.”
Speaking to journalists at the end of the breakfast meeting, Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi confirmed that the CSO reps raised the issue of West Papua, but declined to be drawn into what the Forum leaders would decide.
“There are two issues involved here, that is human rights and self determination. Human rights is okay, we can address it in a normal situation but when it comes to the issue of self determination, then there are processes that we must follow.
“In saying this, I did mention that what arises in West Papua is very similar to the situation of what my own country went through when we agitated to become independent. Of course later the 

United Nations came in and guide us along the path to final independence in 1962. So the processes are there, and those are the formal ones to take.”
Pushed by Pacnews as to what his recommendations would be to his fellow leaders when they meet on Saturday at the debate chamber of the FSM Congress for their annual retreat, Tuilaepa replied: “Well its already incorporated, and we will discuss this at the retreat. At this time your question has been posed but I cannot disclose to you what we will talk about. This is why we arrange the meeting of the Forum to have retreats so that we can discuss.”
Pacnews: As next year’s chair of Forum, will you push for some concrete decision on West Papua? Many submissions have been received from the people of the Pacific for action on West Papua, just like last year’s Forum, but last year’ Forum did nothing on West Papua.
PM Tuilaepa: Yes, (laughs) you are trying to speculate. Never speculate on sensitive issues.
Pacnews: So would you like to put the speculations to rest sir?
PM Tuilaepa: All I can say is, have faith in God!
Ms Duituturaga told Pacnews later that her group of 16 CSO reps gave “all they wanted to submit” at today’s meeting, and it is now up to the leaders to decide. Her group also raised the issues of youth unemployment, gender based violence, disability, decolonisation and self-determination.
The breakfast meeting at Cliff Rainbow Hotel on the waterfront of Pohnpei went overtime, finishing more than one hour behind schedule. Prime Minister Tuilaepa has offered to upgrade the dialogue with CSO when his country hosts the Forum next year.
“Dialogue with the 16 governments of our Pacific leaders Forum can only be all inclusive when they address these issues and all the 16 leaders listen. If there are only 5 of us, we are the only ones that will benefit from their direct views and contributions.
“It does not mean that we will fully convey all the issues. We are in an imperfect world where many things can happen and we may not be able to convey 100% the issues they have raised. It is better that they voice their aspirations in the presence of all the 16 leaders. In that way, there is no secondary information. It comes straight from the horse’s mouth.”
The Forum Leaders summit proper gets underway tomorrow at the Gymnasium of the College of Micronesia in Palikir, Pohnpei. Today, the Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific grouping, are meeting to discuss common issues, including the collapsed trade negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.
The Forum meeting will conclude on Sunday with the traditional Post Forum Dialogue where Forum leaders or their representatives meet and consult with donor governments and development partners.


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2) West Papua leader optimistic about Forum leaders action
Category: Pacific/Regional News 07 Sep 2016  By Giff Johnson - For Variety
MAJURO — A West Papua leader is the most optimistic he has been in years about gaining support from this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.
Support for West Papua human rights and self-determination has been building throughout the island region over the past year, said Octovianus Mote, the secretary general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, who lives in exile in the United States.
“Last year, the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Tonga were the only ones supporting us,” said Mote, who was in Majuro to meet President Hilda Heine and government leaders in advance of the Forum summit that opens Wednesday in Pohnpei. “This year, we have support from Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian countries.”
Key to his optimism is the strong advocacy of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who last year appointed the first government envoy for West Papua and provided government funding for his work.
In his meeting with President Heine, Mote said she “made it clear, the Marshall Islands will support us. For the Marshall Islands, human rights is the main issue.”
In the region, there are some Melanesian countries that do not have a clear policy on West Papua’s struggle for independence from Indonesia. “But on human rights violations by Indonesia, there is no debate on it,” Mote said. “Human rights violations and the struggle for independence are not different issues. Indonesia is violating West Papua’s basic right to self-determination.”
Mote believes their case for self-determination will finally get back to the United Nations Decolonization Committee for review. West Papua independence leaders have asked the Forum to support a call to the U.N. to review the case of West Papua.
The fact that Indonesia turned down the Sogavare government’s request for its West Papua diplomat to visit Jakarta speaks volumes about Indonesia’s attitude toward West Papua, Mote said. “The aim is to open dialogue, but Jakarta says ‘no,’” he said, adding that island nations have been under intense pressure from Jakarta to ignore the West Papua issue. “Indonesia’s arrogance is unbelievable,” he said.
The blunt truth, said Mote, is that West Papua is facing a policy of genocide by Indonesia, and if West Papua does not get help from the United Nations by 2020, it will be too late. “Indonesia is using sovereignty as a means to slaughter people,” Mote said. “Australia says this is an ‘internal issue.’ No, it is not. Sovereignty is not a reason to slaughter your own people.”
Human rights atrocities and genocide policies have been well documented by several human rights reports in recent years. “Even the Indonesian Human Rights Commission admitted crimes against humanity (were committed by Indonesia in West Papua),” he said.
The military has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians by wiping out entire villages in remote areas with targeted military operations, he said. The Jakarta government encourages Indonesians to relocate to West Papua, and the military is paving highways and cutting down forests to make way for new settlements through West Papua. “West Papua is so rich in natural resources,” Mote said. “We see all these people coming in every day to fill up our country. When we try to defend our way of life and our land, we are accused of disrupting the government’s development programs.”
Despite more than a dozen nations raising concerns about human rights abuses by Indonesia during its Universal Periodic Review before the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2012, “Indonesia just ignores it,” he said.
He said access to social media and the Internet has been a turning point for West Papua. “We praise the lord that today we have social media so we can get the word out internationally any time,” Mote said. “It is really empowering the movement to free West Papua.”
But, he said, if there isn’t action in the next four years, it will be too late. “2020 is the end,” he said. “By then West Papuans will be less than 25 percent of the population, and we won’t be able to elect political leaders.”
Mote is hopeful that the Forum summit this week in Pohnpei will support taking the West Papua situation to the United Nations for review. “Last year, the Forum agreed to send a fact finding mission to West Papua, but Indonesia wouldn’t allow it,” Mote said. “They said it was ‘out of your mandate.’ There is no reason for the Forum to ask ‘allow us to come in’ again. It’s time to bring this to the United Nations. That’s what we want.”
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3) Papuans to wait another day for development
Farida Susanty The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, September 8 2016 | 06:41 am





Many Indonesians know Vina Panduwinata’s song “September Ceria”, which tells of happiness and new hope in the month of September. However, for Papuans, September will instead dim their hopes of development in their region.

Beni Wetipo, 45, and Elianus Lokbere, 30, felt relieved because a 92-kilometer-long road had recently been constructed to connect Wamena, Mbua and Kenyam in Papua province. 

Kompas reported on Aug. 22 that Mbua residents such as Beni and Elianus previously had to walk for five days to reach Wamena or pay Rp 600,000 (US$45.85) per person for a pioneer flight because of the lack of basic infrastructure, namely roads.

Unfortunately, the road may be the only new facility Papuans enjoy this year because the whole trans-Papua road program is now on the brink of a major overhaul as a result of state budget cuts, potentially leaving other Papuans without infrastructure for longer, unlike their fellow countrymen in the western regions.

The government has announced that it will cut spending by Rp 137 trillion this year and the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry is among the ministries that will suffer from the austerity measure.

The ministry, which is responsible for most infrastructure projects, will see as many as Rp 6.9 trillion removed from its budget, with almost half of the figure slashed from its Bina Marga Directorate General, which oversees road construction.

Of the cut within Bina Marga, 30 percent might be sourced from the total targeted development of a 4,325-km road project, which connects cities like Manokwari in West Papua province to Oksibil and Wamena in Papua.

“The road construction in West Papua might be the most affected by the move,” Bina Marga Director General Hediyanto Husaini said. Data from the ministry show that it is supposed to build 207.3 km of new roads in Papua and West Papua this year and continue with an additional 176.1 km in 2017.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has actually pledged to bring more inclusive development to Papua during his visits to the resource-rich region, including the construction of a railway, but work on it is facing delays as well. 

The Transportation Ministry has pushed back the trans-Papua railway’s introduction to 2017 from the original schedule of this year’s first half. Transportation Ministry Director General for railways Prasetyo Boeditjahjono attributed the delay to both budget and land acquisition problems as it would see Rp 1.7 trillion cut from its budget.

The railway is planned to span a 1,550-km-long route connecting Sorong in West Papua to Jayapura in Papua. The first phase to be built is the 390-km Sorong to Manokwari track, which is expected to be completed between 2020 and 2024.

However, according to data from the Transportation Ministry, no Papua-related development has been included in its 2017 railway transportation plan. Instead, the ministry plans to spend Rp 18 trillion next year through its directorate general for railways to build a double-track railway project in southern Java and develop both the trans-Sumatra and trans-Sulawesi railway projects.

Gadjah Mada University economist A. Tony Prasetiantono said the budget cuts would make it even more difficult to increase efficiency in Papua and to reduce commodity prices as transportation costs would remain high.
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4) Indonesian government to investigate Korean palm oil giant over burning in Papua

President Jokowi’s administration responds to an NGO report about the conglomerate’s operations in Indonesia’s easternmost province.


The Indonesian government is investigating a Korean palm oil giant accused of burning land in the archipelagic country’s easternmost province of Papua.
In response to an NGO report alleging that the company, Korindo, has made systematic use of fire to clear land in the heavily forested region, Indonesia’s environment ministry has sent a team to Papua to “to collect material and information,” the ministry’s law enforcement director Muhammad Yunus told Reuters.

The widespread use of fire by oil palm and pulpwood planters precipitates Indonesia’s annual haze crisis which each year sends smoke billowing across Southeast Asia. The result last year was a national health emergency and a disastrous spike in greenhouse gas emissions.
Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has urged local authorities to enforce the law against anyone caught burning, which is illegal for all except the smallest farmers. In late August Indonesia’s police chief said police had already arrested over 450 people, more than twice the number apprehended in connection with last year’s fires. The Jokowi administration has also brought civil and criminal cases against a number of companies accused of causing fires.
The NGO report, titled “Burning Paradise” and by environmental group Mighty and partners, used satellite images and hotspot data, as well as on-the-ground research, to document Korindo’s practices in its remote oil palm plantations in Papua.
The conglomerate has accepted that fires occurred on its land but denied the allegations of intentional burning. A company spokesman named Luwi implied that the fires were the fault of the government, not Korindo.
APL is not ‘forest area,’ so if you open land in APL, is that deforestation?
Lewis, representative, Korindo

Lewis further suggested that Korindo’s clear-cutting the Papuan jungle might not constitute “deforestation” because the company’s land had been zoned for “other uses” — a designation known as APL — rather than as “forest area.” “I don’t know if we have the same understanding of deforestation” as the NGOs, he told journalists. “APL is not ‘forest area,’ so if you open land in APL, is that deforestation? This should be discussed.” Many of Indonesia’s forests lie outside the officially designated forest zone, just as many of its towns and cities, including the capital of Central Kalimantan province, lie inside it. According to “Burning Paradise,” Korindo is responsible for 30,000 hectares of deforestation and an estimated 894 fire hotspots since 2013. Last week on the day before the report’s publication, Korindo met with the chairperson of one of Indonesia’s two parliamentary chambers and with the heads of the associations representing Indonesian palm oil developers and logging concessionaires to discuss global “anti-palm-oil” campaigns, news portal Detik reportedMighty campaign directors Bustar Maitar and Deborah Lapidus are this week touring universities, governments and media in South Korea to discuss Korindo’s actions.
This story was published with permission from Mongabay.com
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