Monday, October 16, 2017

1) Inaugurations carried out under tight security in Papua


2) ACTIVISTS URGE TO INVESTIGATE ‘RASKIN AFFAIRS’ IN JAYAWIJAYA
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1) Inaugurations carried out under tight security in Papua
Nethy Dharma Somba The Jakarta Post
Jayapura, Papua | Mon, October 16, 2017 | 04:45 pm

As many as 500 joint security personnel stood guard during the inauguration of Tolikara Regent Usman Genongg Wanimbo and his deputy Dinus Wanimbo by Papua Governor Lukas Enembe at the governor’s office on Monday.
The governor also inaugurated Yapen Islands Regent Toni Tesar and his deputy Frans Sanadi.
The joint personnel from the police and Army were deployed to secure the inauguration, Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Cmr. Tober Sirait said.
The security personnel were assigned to locations where people were expected to gather, such as Imbi Park in Jayapura and the governor’s office.
Those attending the inauguration were required to show their invitation and go through security screenings.  
“We didn't want any clashes during the inauguration,” Tober said on Monday.
Governor Lukas, who represented the home minister, said the elected leaders must represent all residents.  
“Embrace all people” he said in his speech.
Lukas also urged Tolikara and Yapen residents to unite. (rin)
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2) ACTIVISTS URGE TO INVESTIGATE ‘RASKIN AFFAIRS’ IN JAYAWIJAYA

Jayapura, Jubi – The Papua Anti-Corruption Non-Governmental Organization (PPA) and the Jayawijaya Community Forum of Central Highlands of Papua (FMJPTP) urged the Papua Police and Papua High Prosecutor Office to uncover a case of corruption of Rice for the poor program (Raskin) diversion in Jayawijaya Regency in the 2012 budget year.
A 400-ton case of raskin corruption has been revealed through first hand operation (OTT) by former Jayawijaya police chief, AKBP John Edison Isir at Hibama market.
“The head of Wouma, Napua and Yalengga districts as suspects has even been questioned by the Papua High Prosecutor’s Office (Kejati) of Papua, Wednesday, April 23, 2013,” said Chairman of FMJPTP in Jayapura, Yulianus Mabel, to Jubi in Jayapura Tuesday (October 10).

Mabel believes the law enforcement’s performance is slow. He even suspects there is no intention of filing the case. “I ask the Police Chief of Jayawijaya and the Papua police chief to follow-up the case based on his promise some time ago,” Mabel explained.
Another activist Yan Matuan also said that if Regional Police and Papua Kejati must prove their promise by revealing the perpetrators of Raskin Affair and the misdistribution of village funds which until now has is no clarity.
“This case used to been handled seriously by former Police Chief of Jayawijaya, but at a sudden he then transferred to Manokwari,” Yan said.
He asked the new police chief to conduct the investigation since the evidence are plenty. (tabloidjubi.com/Zely)
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Friday, October 13, 2017

1) Indonesia’s West Papua Headache Continues


2) Grasberg mine’s riches still a distant glitter for Papuan communities

3) 200 TRILLION, THE VALUE OF NON-TIMBER FOREST POTENTIAL IN PAPUA
4) IN AUGUST, 25 CASES OF CHILD VIOLENCE IN JAYAPURA CITY
5) POTENTIAL’S MAPPING AND ROAD MAP IS NEEDED IN RICH MINERALS’ PAPUA
6) THE USE OF MISSIONARY AIRFIELD NEEDS COORDINATION
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1) Indonesia’s West Papua Headache Continues
Jakarta must tread carefully on the issue.

By Luke Hunt October 14, 2017

The problems of Indonesian President Joko Widodo are many. A revival of the communist party and politically expedient alliances between Islamic militants and opposition parties are among the latest headaches he must deal with inside the corridors of power in Jakarta.
But much further away, in West Papua, old issues continue to simmer, perhaps threateningly so unless Widodo can negotiate deftly with people who have little in common with Indonesia’s central authorities and those who run the conflict-prone country.
The latest escalation in tensions between locals and Widodo’s administration erupted last week when it was revealed that a secret petition had been passed around, gathering 1.8 million signatures, demanding a free vote on independence for West Papua.
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The demands were presented to the United Nations in New York by exiled pro-independence leader Benny Wenda. But the bid was rejected, with doubts cast over the veracity of the petition by Jakarta.
In fact, The Jakarta Post reported that the chairman of Special Committee on Decolonization, Venezuela’s Rafael Ramirez expressed “indignation with those individuals and parties who had manipulated his name for their own purposes.”
“I have never received anything or anybody regarding the issue of West Papua,” he apparently said in a doorstop interview at UN headquarters.
The United Nations, and the international community more generally, may not want to upset the Indonesian government. But the 1.8 million signatures figure, if correct, represents around a whopping 70 percent of the West Papuan population. Separatist agitation also has a long history there, amid sporadic crackdowns by the military that have obviously not worked.
And the petition did in fact exist. It asked the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate human rights abuses in the province and to put West Papua back on the decolonization committee agenda and ensure their right to self-determination.
It was that committee which refused to accept the petition.
“In the West Papuan people’s petition we hand over the bones of the people of West Papua to the United Nations and the world,” Wenda said, adding the petition was banned in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, and blocked online.
“After decades of suffering, decades of genocide, decades of occupation, we open up the voice of the West Papuan people which lives inside this petition. My people want to be free.”
Indonesia can ill-afford another conflict, having dealt with similar issues with respect to East Timor and Aceh that threatened the country’s political and social stability.
West Papua was lumped within Indonesia’s sovereign borders through a forced and controversial annexation by Indonesia that has been well-documented. Since then many reports have documented how indigenous people have been subjected to harassment, ranging from beatings to murder.
Peter Arndt of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission compiled one report accusing the Indonesian government of staging violent incursions into the region and systematically expelling Papuans from their homes in what amounted to a “slow-motion genocide.”
According to the report, the indigenous people of West Papua now account for just 40 percent of the population, compared with more than 95 percent three decades ago.
Released a year ago, the report also found that the situation in West Papua was “fast approaching a tipping point.”
“In less than five years, the position of Papuans in their own land will be worse than precarious,” it said.
“They are already experiencing a demographic tidal wave. Ruthless Indonesian political, economic, social and cultural domination threatens to engulf the proud people who have inhabited the land they call Tanah Papua for thousands of years.”
Doubts surrounding the recent petition might be real. But the fact is there are fewer doubts surrounding human rights abuses committed by the military and the hostility felt among locals on West Papua.
This is a highly combustible mix. And it comes at a potentially troubling time for Widodo ahead of presidential elections in 2019. So far, although he has visited the area several times and focused his efforts on economic issues, resolving the harder political questions has proven elusive. Navigating them will demand a skillful and more sensitive approach, which is a far cry from the clumsy, violent and authoritarian hand of the military we have witnessed previously.
Luke Hunt can be followed on twitter @lukeanthonyhunt
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Mongabay Series:
  • 2) Grasberg mine’s riches still a distant glitter for Papuan communities

    by Hans Nicholas Jong on 13 October 2017

  • Through its local subsidiary, US-based Freeport-McMoRan operates the world’s largest and most profitable gold mine in Indonesia’s Papua province.
  • Changes to Indonesia’s mining laws earlier this year raised hopes that Papua's indigenous people might finally get a stake in the mine.
  • With negotiations between the government and the company snagging on key issues, activists say these hopes may be premature.
High hopes that the world’s biggest gold mine will finally bring meaningful benefit to the community for which it has for decades been a source of contention have been deflated as negotiations hit a wall.
Freeport McMoRan Inc. (FCX) and the Indonesian government are currently hashing out the details of a long-term agreement for an extension of the company’s contract to operate the giant Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua province, due to expire in 2021.
Freeport announced in August that it had agreed to divest a 51 percent stake in its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), in which it currently holds a 90.64 percent stake, following sustained pressure by the government to reform a mining sector long seen as not doing enough to benefit local communities or contribute to the national economy.
As part of broader changes to Indonesia’s mining law, the government has required that all mining firms build smelters in-country; convert their existing contracts into more flexible permits; and, for those with a foreign majority shareholder, divest a 51 percent stake in their operations to local partners within a decade of the mines coming into production.
Freeport’s announcement was cheered by Indonesians, many of whom believe the country has been getting the short end of the stick in its business dealings with foreign miners.
The indigenous inhabitants of Papua, in particular, welcomed the announcement, hoping the redrawn contract would finally address the impact of the company’s mining operations on the local community and improve their welfare.
But as negotiations between Freeport and the government stall over the terms of the divestment, the role Papuans will play in determining the future of the mining project is once again shrouded in uncertainty.

Sharing the wealth
In 2016 alone, Freeport’s Indonesian operations generated $3.8 billion in revenue for the parent company. Yet despite having the world’s most profitable gold mine, Papua remains Indonesia’s poorest province, where 28 percent of the people live below the poverty line. It also has some of the worst infant mortality and literacy rates in Asia.
To ensure that some of the mine’s revenues trickle down to Papuans, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan has said that up to 10 percent of PTFI’s shares should be reserved for the Papuan government and indigenous Papuan people.
But Freeport has balked at the details of the government’s plan to manage the divestment. In a letter dated Sept. 28, the company expressed strong disagreement with the valuation, timing and structure put forward by the government.
The government has proposed acquiring a majority stake in PTFI by the end of 2018, but Freeport wants the divestment to take place in stages over a period of several years. It also wants the first batch of shares to be offered publicly through the stock exchange, rather than allocated directly to the government.
The price is another sticking point. Last year Freeport offered to divest a 10.64 percent stake in PTFI for $1.7 billion, which would give a valuation of around $8.1 billion for a 51 percent stake. Jonan, however, has called for a much lower figure. Conflating FCX’s market capitalization on the New York Stock Exchange and its share of revenue from PTFI, the minister argues that the fair value for a 51 percent stake in the Indonesian operator should be $4 billion.
Any hopes for immediate benefits as a result of the divestment, particularly the promised 10 percent stake for Papuans, have diminished as a result of the impasse.
Maryati Abdullah, the national coordinator of mining sector watchdog Publish What You Pay Indonesia, said such disagreements should have been foreseen. “The contentions in the negotiation process were predictable. So any claims of victory after the divestment agreement [in August] were premature, given that there are still many details that haven’t been agreed upon,” she told Mongabay. “As long as there’s no written agreement, there’s a high chance that things could still change.”

‘Our nature is damaged’
Community leaders in Papua argue they should be involved in the ongoing negotiations, regardless of whether Papuans get a share in PTFI.
A group representing various indigenous tribes affected by PTFI’s mining operation met with Jonan last month to discuss the issue.
“We hope we will be involved in the negotiation of the details of the agreement and that a good deal will be given be to the local people,” said Odizeus Beanal, a representative of the Amungme tribe, whose highland home is where Grasberg is located. “Our hope in the future is for an agreement to be reached for indigenous people.”
Also affected by PTFI’s operations are the Kamoro, a lowland people whose ancestral territory is the site of Freeport’s mining town of Timika. The Amungme and Kamoro have traditionally subsisted on sustainable agriculture, fishing and hunting. But the opening of the mine in 1967 disrupted their lives, stripping them of their rights to 100,000 hectares (247,100 acres) of their ancestral lands. They have been further displaced and marginalized by migrants from elsewhere across Indonesia drawn to the mining boomtown.
Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), a state-funded body, said earlier this year that PTFI had never compensated the Amungme and the Kamoro as the original stewards of the land where it operates. It characterized Freeport’s concession as a land grab.
“The land that could be used to live on has been contaminated with chemicals,” Daniel Beanal, a Kamoro elder, told presidential staffers at a meeting earlier this year. “Our nature is damaged. The mountain is filled with holes. I’ve never received anything from Freeport.”
Beanal argued it would be best for PTFI to cease operations, a call echoed by another Kamoro elder, Nicolaus Kanunggok.
“Our aspiration is clear: to close and audit [PTFI] first. We’re not asking for a share, not even a single percent. Close the operation first, and then audit [them],” Kanunggok said.

Audit findings
A recent report by Indonesia’s Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) identified a wide range of irregularities in PTFI’s operations and its current contract.
Eleven of the issues were attributed to weak management by the government, while 10 pointed to violations of regulations by PTFI. These include indications of reckless mining, and the dumping of mining waste into rivers, forests and the sea. An earlier review by the agency estimated the environmental damage from the company’s operations at 185 trillion rupiah ($13.7 billion).
PTFI spokesman Riza Pratama said the company manages its waste in accordance with the terms set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the government in 1997. “We are operating in accordance with our mining contract and [mining waste processing and disposal] has been regulated in it,” he told Mongabay.
Noak Kapisa, the head of Papua’s environmental agency, said PTFI should pay for the environmental damage identified by the audit agency. “If the damage is done inside Freeport’s areas, then it has to fix it,” he told Mongabay. Kapisa also called on the government to revoke the company’s EIA, which is in the process of being renewed, if PTFI refuses to make amends for the environmental damage it has caused.
The BPK also found that Freeport had used 4,536 hectares (11,208 acres) of protected forest area without obtaining the proper permits, costing the government $20 million in lost fees between 2008 and 2015.
Riza declined to comment on this finding when asked by Mongabay.

Pitfalls and progress
As things stand, there is no guarantee of more environmentally sound mining operations once Freeport has relinquished a 51 percent stake in PTFI.
That’s because Freeport has insisted on retaining operational control of its subsidiary until 2041, even if the government holds the majority of PTFI shares. Should the miner get its way, Indonesia would have no leverage in the deal, according to PWYP Indonesia advocacy manager Aryanto Nugroho.
For instance, he argues, Freeport could refuse to pay dividends to the government by saying it needs the money to cover expenses like building a smelter, which it is required to do under the new mining law.
“Even if the government held the majority of shares, if FCX still retained operation control, what could we do? So there are traps like that,” Nugroho told Mongabay.
The government must ensure that Freeport pays all its obligations, including for environmental damage, before the divestment is done, says Henri Subagiyo, executive director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), an NGO.
“If the obligations are paid before the takeover, there won’t be many problems. But if the obligations [are held over until] after the takeover, then who would bear the burden?” Subagiyo told Mongabay. “If the government has the majority of shares, then the government would have the obligations [to pay for the damage]. If Papuans get a stake, they would bear the risk as well.”
Activists have urged the government to use the BPK’s findings as a basis in the negotiations with Freeport.
“These problems have to be probed further and discussed during the renegotiation process of Freeport’s mining contract,” said PWYP Indonesia’s Abdullah. “Environmental problems are no less important than other problems in the renegotiation, which are mainly financial, such as tax, divestment and the obligation to build smelters in Indonesia.”
President Joko Widodo has said the government is seeking a win-win solution as quickly as possible. But with neither side seeing eye to eye on the key issues, it remains unclear when the negotiations will conclude.
Additional reporting by Basten Gokkon.
Banner image: Panorama from high up at the Grasberg gold and copper mine in Indonesian Papua on the island of New Guinea. Photo by Richard Jones/flickr.
Article published by 

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http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/200-trillion-value-non-timber-forest-potential-papua/
3) 200 TRILLION, THE VALUE OF NON-TIMBER FOREST POTENTIAL IN PAPUA

Jayapura, Jubi – Provincial Government of Papua said the potential of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) reaches Rp 200 trillion per year. The potential is based on the study conducted by Research and Development Agency of Papua Province.
“An increase in the potential of NTFPs in Papua is needed. Because if it managed and processed well they will bring great revenue for Papua,” said Assistant for Economic Affairs and People’s Welfare, Secretary of Papua, Elia Loupatty, Tuesday (October 10).
According to him, the study of Research and Development Agency of Papua Province shows the potential of forest from upstream to downstream can generate Rp 200 trillion per year. “This is without destroying the forest,” Elia added.
The potential is much larger than the Special Autonomy Fund (Otsus) which is only Rp 5 trillion, but Elijah ensures it needs good management and coordination. “Management of NTFPs requires strong coordination,” he said.
Head of Papua Forestry and Conservation Agency, Yan Yap Ormuseray invites people in his region to intensively protect the forest and the environment. “Because almost the entire territory of Papua is covered by excellent natural forest and has a very high selling value,” said Yan Yap.
According to him, development with regard to environment is a key requirement for provincial, regencies and municipal governments in Papua. “All development should be initiated by conducting environmental studies,” Yan added.
He emphasized the special development that goes through the forest need to be preceded by a strategic study on the environment. It also applies to the road construction for the people. “It is also important to see the impact on the environment, because it is now become world’s attention,” he said.(tabloidjubi.com/Zely)
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4) IN AUGUST, 25 CASES OF CHILD VIOLENCE IN JAYAPURA CITY
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http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/potentials-mapping-road-map-needed-rich-minerals-papua/
5) POTENTIAL’S MAPPING AND ROAD MAP IS NEEDED IN RICH MINERALS’ PAPUA
Jayapura, Jubi – Papua is rich in mineral natural resources of metals that need regulatory systems based on existing regulations.
“Papua is not only rich in mining. Papua is full of metallic mineral resources,” said Papua’s mining practitioner, Hosea Asmuruf, in a discussion about Tthe Governance potential for indigenous Papuans in mining and existence of Pergub Papua No. 41 of 2011, at Center for Women’s Development and Development (P3W) office , Padang Bulan Abepura, Jayapura City, Friday (October 6).
The former Dean of the Faculty of Mining, University of Science and Technology (USTJ) of Jayapura, said the metal mineral resources need to be seriously managed by the right stakeholder. If not so, Papuans will never enjoy it.

“The Papuans should prepare themselves and begin the process of management. And it depends on local governments whether they willing to give authority to the locals or not,” he said.
Papuan mining observer, Hetkan Spel Bidana, said that the management of mining in Papua by delegating authority to the Papuan people is not difficult. The government is sufficiently referring to the main tasks and functions of the Provincial Department of Energy’s Mineral Resources, Law No. 4 of 2009 on Minerba, Law no 30 of 2007 on Energy, and Law 21 of 2001 on Special Autonomy of Papua.
“The government should do the planning, implementation, and control of the program. The government needs to make a general plan for Papua energy, form a Papuan energy council, and arrange Papuan energy entrepreneurs with local regulations.
He said, the government also needs to create a grand design of mineral resources potential in Papua and make action plan of mineral resource mapping. This map is important to become shared knowledge for further management.
After the mapping, the government needs to develop a grand design for the development of carbon energy and renewable energy (green energy), as well as action plan for management and utilization of energy so the benefits would be even clear.
Regardless the mining focus, government also needs to make grand design of conservation and utilization of water resources to avoid pollution.
Much more important than that, the government needs a grand design of development and management of mining in Papua. The people must become economic actors in the field of mining and the preparation and action plans for the development of community mining management should start now.
“First of all it needs a database of human resources of indigenous Papuans (geologists, mines, chemicals, environment, law, economists, sociologists, anthropologists) that give weight to the mine and energy management in Papua,” said the man who has a mining education background. (tabloidjubi.com/Zely)
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6) THE USE OF MISSIONARY AIRFIELD NEEDS COORDINATION
Jayapura, Jubi – The regency/city governments should make coordination in utilizing the built-in missionary airfield in the remote interior of Papua.
It is said by Legislator of Papua, Mustakim which also acknowledge that the role of missionaries which had built many airfields is undeniable in various rural areas of Papua for the sake of religious mission.
“If the government wants to use the missionary-built airfields, it needs to be coordinated with the missionaries, local people, religious leaders, and community leaders,” Mustakim said on Wednesday (October 11).

If the government wants to use the airfields, they must firs fix or prepare an adequate means of the airfields. “If the conditions of airfields are not adequate, the government has to coordinates with related parties to fix it, so it can be used together. I think missionaries and government mission are the same, serving the community,” he said.
The coordination is important to avoid further problems, especially if the governments plan to improve the existed missionaries’ airfields.
Assistant for the Economic and Development Sector of the Papua Provincial Secretariat, Elia Loupatty, said there are at least 300 airfields built because of the joint community efforts, missionaries and churches in the interior of Papua.
“The average built-in airfields are only 600 meters long and the position is not straight. But that’s the condition and it must be fixed from time to time,” Loupatty said recently.
He said the government should give appreciation to the missionaries, without them there is no airfield, the inland areas will be difficult to reach. (tabloidjubi.com/Zely)
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Question Of West Papuan Independence – Analysis

The Question Of West Papuan Independence – Analysis
West Papua became the twenty-sixth province of Indonesia in 1969, after the so-called “Act of Free Choice” sponsored by the UN saw the transfer of official administration of the territory from the Netherlands, to Indonesia.
With the growing number of nations voicing their support for the United Nations to revisit what has now been widely criticized as a flawed plebiscite in 1969, Jakarta should indeed be concerned that they could eventually lose the re- source-rich territory, an event which could drag Australia into conflict with its restive neighbor.


Over the five decades which Indonesia has held official control of West Papua, the indigenous population has endured what has been extensively documented as a repressive system of Javanese-colonial occupation. Based on reports filed by church organizations, missionaries, and the West Papuan diaspora, Indonesian security forces continue to commit what have been labeled as “gross human rights abuses” against the indigenous population, with estimates of civilians killed reaching a half-million since the occupation commenced.
West Papua has Indonesia’s largest Indonesian military and police presence. The Indonesian National Military Forces (TNI: Tentara Nasional Indonesia) reaps great economic rewards from its occupation of West Papua. Institutionally, the police and military remain determined to maintain their presence because their control of the fuel and timber-smuggling trades, as well as the trade in drugs and prostitutes, is so lucrative. Then there are the substantial benefits paid to the military to provide security to the jewel in West Papua’s crown: the iconic Grasberg gold and copper operation which in 2016 produced more than 500,000 tonnes of copper and more than one-million ounces of gold. (Significantly, the Indonesian Government in August 2017 forcibly acquired 51 percent of the shares of the company, PT Freeport Indonesia, from the US owners, Freeport McMoRan, Inc., although reportedly leaving the company to run operations at Grasberg.)
These economic and social repressive activities are hidden from the outside world by the Indonesian Government. The Government routinely prevents most foreign journalists from visiting the territory.
When considering West Papua, Javanese envisage a huge, rich, empty land mass, vulnerable to exploitation and interference from foreign powers. Papuans are defined by Javanese as greedy, corrupt drunkards who need Javanese guardianship. Racism is prevalent and Javanese consider Papuans as stone-age primitives.

The indigenous people of West Papua are of the same ethnic origin as those in the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and are also related ethnically and culturally to other Melanesian peoples of the Pacific. Yet under Jakarta’s Transmigrasi program, the indigenous West Papuans have been reduced to a minority population due to waves of sponsored migrants from Java and Sulawesi.
After decades of Dutch colonial governance until 1963, indigenous Papuans constituted 99 percent of the population. Under Indonesian administration since 1963, that figure has fallen to 47 percent.

West Papua and the Melanesian Spearhead Group

There has always been a deeply-felt sense of kinship and common heritage amongst the Melanesian Spearhead Group of nations towards West Papua. Vanuatu has always been a place of refuge for West Papuan dissidents and independence activists.
Indonesia has been aware of this support within the Vanuatu body politic for many years, and has recently sought to counter it. This open diplomatic confrontation was evidence that Indonesia’s diplomatic offensive over West Papua was well underway.
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) came into being on July 17, 1986, as a result of an informal meeting of the heads of government of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and a representative of the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS).
The member states now are Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the Kanak and Socialist Liberation Front of New Caledonia.
In 2015, the ULMWP (United Liberation Movement for West Papua), a coalition of West Papuan organizations, was made an observer of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The ULMWP subsequently applied for full membership, hoping it would give their movement greater political recognition. This is unlikely to succeed as the leaders of the MSG voted to make Indonesia an associate member, paving the way for stronger cooperation between Jakarta and Melanesian countries. Indonesia’s membership of the MSG has given Jakarta a greater influence in Melanesian politics than the ULMWP.
Nonetheless, in January 2017, the Melanesian Spearhead Group began discussions to provide full membership in the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
It is Indonesia’s view that West Papua already falls under its (the Republic of Indonesia’s) representation in the MSG and strongly opposes this consideration because it regards West Papua as an integral part of its territory.
Although the MSG’s core philosophy supports decolonization and greater independence in Melanesia, the potential inclusion of the ULMWP is problematic because of Indonesia’s associate membership (granted on on the basis of the Mela- nesian identity of five of its provinces).
Currently, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu openly favor the ULMWP’s inclusion, while Fiji and Papua New Guinea remain undecided. Papua New Guinea and Fiji’s hesitancy can be understood, as Fiji continues to share strong trade links with Indonesia and currently receives aid for the MSG’s regional police academy in Fiji.
Papua New Guineans support West Papuan liberation.
However, Port Moresby continues to vacillate on the issue given that PNG has extensive trade and border relations with Indonesia and would wish to maintain these without any diplomatic disturbances.
History was made for West Papua in September 2016 at the United Nations General Assembly when seven Pacific Island nations raised the issue of West Papuan independence. These countries were Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Solo- mon Islands, Tonga, and Palau.
Ireland, Guinea, and the Netherlands have now added their voices to the cause.
In April 2017, a global petition for West Papuan self-determination was launched in Papua New Guinea. This historic petition was originally launched in the British Parliament in Westminster on January 27, 2017.
The petition calls upon the UN Secretary General to “appoint a Special Representative to investigate the human rights situation in West Papua; – put West Papua back on the Decolonization Committee agenda and ensure their right to self-determination — denied to them in 1969 — is respected by holding an Internationally Supervised Vote (in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541 (XV)).”
Political support in New Zealand for an independent West Papua also continues to grow after 11 members of Parliament from across four political parties signed the Westminster Declaration in May 2017, calling for West Papua’s right to self-determination to be legally recognized through an indigenous Papuan vote.
On October 19, 2011, 5,000 academics, politicians, church leaders, and senior tribal leaders established the Federal Republic of West Papua (FRWP) during the Third Papua Congress. They determined its objectives, and elected a president and a prime minister. The Indonesian government immediately charged the President, Prime Minister and organizers of the Congress, with subversion, and they were all incarcerated.
The FRWP Department of Foreign Affairs, Immigration, and Trade is the only FRWP institution in the diaspora, under the guidance of an executive who doesn’t live in the West Papuan homeland.
The FRWP is yet to receive UN recognition.
ASEAN member states remain reluctant to acknowledge the growing possibility that Indonesia may be challenged with losing yet another of its provinces following former Pres. B. J. Habibie’s misstep which precipitated East Timor’s (Timor Leste/Timor Lorosa’e) gaining independence in 2000 from its Javanese, colonial masters.
Indonesia fears it will lose control over its West Papuan provinces, reminded by the role played by the Australian movement for a free East Timor in ending what was essentially a genocidal Indonesian occupation there at the turn of the millennium.
Indonesia continues to pressure Australia to caution its Pacific Island neighbors against interfering in the West Papua issue and to urges them to withdraw support for West Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. It warns that the issue could pose a “stumbling block” to closer bilateral ties if Canberra fails to adopt a stronger public defense of Indonesia’s position.
Although all Australian governments since 1962 have supported Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua, the growing international support for independence is highly likely to continue to negatively impact upon Australia-Indonesia relations in the future, recalling Australia’s support for East Timor’s independence from Indonesia in 1999. Jakarta believes that Australia will eventually support West Papuan independence or has strategic designs on the province.
Jakarta is unlikely to readily surrender West Papua as it did East Timor. Papua New Guinea could also become victim to any conflict arising from a territorial fight and that would certainly invoke existing arrangements between PNG and Australia, requiring Australian boots on the ground to protect the PNG’s borders.
*Kerry Collison, Foreign Correspondent Jakarta and Melbourne for Washington’s “Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy” the journal of the International Strategic Studies Association.
This article was originally published in Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, and reprinted with permission.
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