Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Summary of events in West Papua for August -13 September 2016

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

                 Summary of events in West Papua for August -13 September 2016

Support for West Papua continues to grow throughout the Pacific region.
Much of it around the lobbying of the two regional organisations the MSG and the PIF by West Papuan leaders, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and churches.  Recently a new “Pacific Coalition on West Papua” was formed.  The initial membership comprises the Solomon Islands Government, Vanuatu Government, Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) and the United Liberation Movement of West Papua and the Pacific Islands Alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO). Two new members are the governments of Tuvalu and the Republic of Nauru.. The other two parties who indicated support for the initiative when it was introduced in Honiara at the margin of the 4th Pacific Islands Development Summit are the Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of Marshall Islands. http://www.pina.com.fj/?p=pacnews&m=read&o=197360130357cd01103ae4d63a6626      

The 47th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting was held in the Federated States of Micronesia between the 8 - 10 September. CSO’s presented a position paper concerning Human Rights violations in West Papua urging the PIF Leaders to:
a) Actively engage with the Indonesian Government to halt the deteriorating human rights violations and
b) Discuss with the UN Secretary-General at their annual meeting (Forum Update in New York on the margins of UNGA) to appoint a special envoy to conduct human rights assessment in West Papua.
c) Sponsor the re-instatement of West Papua on the United Nations Committee for Decolonisation and enquire into past actions for its removal.

Although West Papua was mentioned in the official Communique 
it is hoped that at the Post Forum Dialogue which Indonesian attends that the PIF Leaders continued to raise the issue of a fact-finding mission with  Indonesian representatives. AWPA release

From communiqué in relation to West Papua
18. Leaders recognised the political sensitivities of the issue of West Papua (Papua) and agreed the issue of alleged human rights violations in West Papua (Papua) should remain on their agenda. Leaders also agreed on the importance of an open and constructive dialogue with Indonesia on the issue. Full Communique

Geo-politics at play over Leader’s lack of expressed commitment on West Papua

Pacific leaders’ lack of expressed commitment to action the case of West Papua at their meeting in Federated States of Micronesia may be due to geo politics says Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) executive director, Emele Duituturaga. “Generally, the result of the 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting as articulated in their communiqué was a mixed one for civil society,” Duituturaga said. “We are happy that some of the issues we pushed for like the Pacific Framework for the Rights of Persons with Disability, Climate Change and disaster risk management, and coastal fisheries were endorsed by the leaders and reflected in the communiqué.” “For West Papua – while the human rights violations were mentioned, the push by CSOs to have West Papua raised at the United Nations is not reflected,” she said. http://www.pina.com.fj/index.php?p=pacnews&m=read&o=126936984557d77a24c733731839b1

                                                    Executive director, Emele Duituturaga

Leading up to the Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the PIF said that West Papua is a sensitive issue for some Pacific governments, but one that needs to be debated. It’s an issue that needs to be pursued and it’s not going to go away,” she said. “Our bigger countries in the region like Australia and New Zealand realise that this issue is just not going to go to sleep – and it shouldn’t go to sleep, because it is very important for our region.”

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.

SI Given  leading role to advocate on West Papua issues
The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation reported (18 Aug.)  that the Solomon Islands has been given the leadership role in advocating on the issues of human rights violation and allegations in West Papua. The leadership role was bestowed upon the country following last week’s Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers meeting in Suva, Fiji. This will see Solomon Islands play a leading role in ensuring issues of West Papua remains active amongst Forum leaders.
The Fiji Times also reported (19 Aug.) that Foreign Ministers from the Pacific Islands have reiterated the importance of upholding human rights across the region and also the need for continued engagement with Indonesia in relation to the ongoing genocide in West Papua. http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=367540

Melanesians’ support for West Papua strong - Natuman
RNZI 12 September 2016 
Vanuatu's deputy prime minister says the strong support for West Papuans among the people of Melanesia should eventually translate to a co-ordinated regional response. Joe Nathan admits there are differences of approach on Papua among member governments of the Melanesian Spearhead Group about the bid for full membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua

                           Deputy Prime Minster Joe Natuman.  Photo: RNZI / Kim Baker-Wilson

Mr Natuman said there's been a lot of lobbying of members by Indonesia's government, with announcements of assistance to regional governments.

But he said people in Melanesia are firmly in support for helping Papua. "The population in Melanesia, so far they have been very vocal. Before it was only Vanuatu, but now Solomons, PNG and Fiji. The Churches are involved, the chiefs are involved, the general populace are involved. And I sure that eventually they'll force their attitude regarding human rights, and self-determination and independence in West Papua." Mr Natuman conceded that the MSG has been a bit compromised due to is budgetary shortfalls, forcing it seek more funding for its operations but he doesn't think Indonesia's promises of help are genuine.

In New Zealand hundreds of Māori students marched to New Zealand's parliament calling for freedom for West Papua. The march was met at the steps of parliament by MPs from various political parties, who spoke of their concern about Indonesian state oppression in the Papua region. The students gathered in the capital for the annual conference Te Huinga Tauira o Te Mana Ākonga, this year hosted by Ngāi Tauira, the Māori Students' Association at Victoria University of Wellington. A co-president of Ngāi Tauira, Raimona Tapiata, said the hundreds gathered felt strongly about the plight of West Papuans, from which they drew many parallels with how Māori experienced colonialism. (RNZI 27 Aug.) RNZI also reported (6 Sept.) that a petition has been tabled in New Zealand's parliament calling on the government to make a number of representations on the plight of West Papuans. It calls on the parliament to urge the New Zealand Government to address the ongoing human rights situation in West Papua by taking a series of actions. These include publicly advocating for the Indonesian government to uphold the rights of the indigenous people of Papua region, or West Papua, to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.
The public petition, which garnered 1367 signatures, was handed over to a group of Labour and Greens MPs today before being tabled in the chamber.

                                                  NZ Green MP Marama Davidson  Photo: RNZ

Bishops in Pacific region declare support for West Papua

Support: Port Moresby Archbishop John Ribat, Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long, Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin, Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan, Noumea Archbishop Michel Calvet and Port Vila Bishop John Bosco.

CATHOLIC bishops from across the Pacific region also declared support for West Papua to have a greater international voice. Dignity for West Papuans was a focus issue for the executive committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Pacific Islands meeting in Port Moresby.  Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin and Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long represented Australia. “They (West Papuans) seek what every family and culture seeks: respect of personal and communal dignity, free expression of one’s aspirations, and good neighbourly relations,” the Catholic bishops said in a statement. “Political boundaries can never contain or control ethnic relationships and so we urge governments to support the West Papuan people’s desire to participate fully in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.”

Pacific women call for investigation of women's rights in West Papua

West Papuan human rights activist Rode Wanimbo address the 7th Pacific Women's Network Against Violence Against Women, while Bernadetha Mahuse looks on. Photo: Pacific Women's Network Against Violence Against Women (In RNZI report)

Pacific women are also calling for an independent mission to investigate violence against women in Indonesia's Papua region. The call comes from the Pacific Women's Network Against Violence Against Women which represents policy makers and front line workers from 13 Pacific countries. Representatives of women from West Papua attended the networks 7th meeting in Fiji last week and raised some critical issues and gaps in service delivery for victims of gender violence in West Papua.

West Papuan leader rallies support ahead of summit
A West Papua leader says he is the most optimistic he has been in years about gaining support from this week's Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in the Federated States of Micronesia.
The secretary general of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Octo Mote, said support for West Papua human rights and self-determination had been building throughout the island region over the past year.
He said a year ago that just the Melanesian Spearhead Group and Tonga supported them, but this year there was backing from Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian countries. The key to his optimism was the strong advocacy of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who last year appointed the first government envoy for West Papua and provided government funding for his work. Dr Mote said the Marshall Islands President, Hilda Heine, had made it clear her country was backing the West Papua cause. He said for the Marshalls human rights was the main issue.
Dr Mote said West Papua's case for self-determination would finally get back to the United Nations Decolonization Committee for review. The ULMWP asked the Forum to support a call to the UN to review the case of West Papua.

New York Agreement
Rallies took place around the world to commemorate the New York Agreement. On the 15 August 1962 an agreement was signed between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning West New Guinea. The signing of the New York Agreement lead to the betrayal of the West Papuan people.  In West Papua over 50 KNPB activists were arrested leading up to the commemoration of the New York Agreement. The activists were arrested simply because they were handing out leaflets informing people of peaceful rallies to be held on the 15th to commemorate this tragic event. AWPA condemned the arrests. RNZI report at

In Jayapura hundreds attended a rally organized by the KNPB. A report in the Jakarta post said about 100 KNPB supporters were rounded up in a police truck but later released although subjected to some violence while in the truck. During the rally a number of food stalls and tyres were burned and although the security forces blamed the KNPB the KNPB denied their involvement. In a RNZI report (16 Aug.) a West Papuan lawyer and Catholic lay activist said the KNPB were wrongly blamed for the unrest. "People know that already it is not done by the KNPB members”.

Photos of Sydney supporters for a Free West Papua -15 August

Officer Shoots Dead Boy in Sugapa, Residents Torch Police Station
Jayapura, Jubi – A teenager died after being shot allegedly by a Mobile Brigade officer in Sugapa. Angry residents set fire to the Sugaba Police Station in response to the news. A local resident contacted by Jubi said the shooting occurred on Saturday (27/8/2016) at around 10:25 Papua time and followed a previous shooting on Thursday (25/8/2016). “On Thursday, Nope Sani and Nole Sondegau offered the firewood but rejected by the Company Tigi Jaya that paved the Papua Trans road. Don’t know why the company then called the Mobile Brigade whose officer came and shot the two boys three times but missed,” said Sugapa resident on Saturday evening. 

                                                    Angry residents set fire to the Sugaba Police Station – Jubi
Jubi report at

A report by the International Coalition for Papua on the incident at

New Report-Burning Paradise:  Palm Oil in the Land of the Tree Kangaroo
The report details the activities of the Palm oil company Korindo which is a Korean Indonesian company, its name made up from the words Korea and Indonesia, is the largest palm oil company in Papua.  The report found that over 50,000 hectares of tropical lowland forests –– have been devastated by the group. they are also responsible for  illegal forest fires. The burning of native forests is illegal under Indonesian law. The report also points out that the company does everything it can to keep journalists and environmental out. They block the roads, lie to the press, and blame the Papuan people for the fires the majority. of whom never consented to  their land been taking in the first place and probably one off the reasons  that the Env. groups used drones to gain video footage of much of the destruction.
Report at

Drone footage
The devastating deforestation of Papua for the palm oil industry, from above

Papuan plea to Widodo to save forests
RNZI 31 August 2016 
A priest in Indonesia's Papua region has appealed to President Joko Widodo to halt the destruction of pristine forests by a palm oil developer.
The Catholic UCA news service reports Father Anselmus Amo saying the forest in Papua’s Muting area, about 200 kilometres from Merauke, is being snatched from tribal people who depend on it for their survival.

The south eastern region of Papua province has seen significant forest clearance and fires from destroyed forest and peatlands in the past year. Photo: NASA (in RNZI report)

The southeastern region of Papua province has seen significant forest clearance and fires from destroyed forest and peatlands in the past year. Photo: NASA
Tribal leaders say they are being intimidated by the military to hand their land over to the palm company - PT Agroprima Cipta Persada.
The priest who heads the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission said he had petitioned the president because he was the last hope for the people.
He said petitions sent to the local government, military, and police have been ignored.
Father Amo told the website that the issue has caused widespread anxiety and tension between people, the company, local government and law enforcers. He said he has also approached the National Commission on Human Rights.

Opinion pieces/press releases/reports etc.

Australia continues to be shamefully silent on Indonesia’s human rights abuses

Freeport Suspected of Mining Gold in Lorentz National Park underground

Plantations get military, police backup

The good, the bad, and the ugly in palm oil (commentary)

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