On Friday (01/12), dozens of demonstrators gathered in Central Jakarta to demand West Papuan independence from Indonesia. Marchers brought posters and sang traditional West Papuan songs in defiance what the demonstrators see as a foreign occupation of the territory. (JG Photo / Yudha Baskoro)
By : JG | on 11:42 AM December 04, 2017 Category : Eyewitness, Multimedia, Photos
Jakarta. On Friday (01/12), dozens of demonstrators gathered in Central Jakarta to demand West Papuan independence from Indonesia. Marchers brought posters and sang traditional West Papuan songs in defiance what the demonstrators see as a foreign occupation of the territory.
"We're not Indonesian, we're the Morning Star, the Morning Star, you've just said red and white," demonstrators chanted, referring to West Papua's historical flag.
Marchers, members of the Papuan Student Alliance and the People's Front of Indonesia for West Papua, also demanded that the Indonesian government force US-based mining giant Freeport McMoran to shut down operations in the province.
The demonstration came on the eve of West Papua's first declaration of independence on Dec. 1, 1961.
"The relationship between Papua and Indonesia is like an illegal marriage," said one activist.
"We are different from Indonesia, it's been a long time. You are white, we are black, your hair is straight, we are curly, we are brothers or you just want our own natural wealth," an orator shouted in front of a police officer.
"After Dec. 1, 1961, [former president] Soekarno declared the Trikora 19 days later in Yogyakarta to seize West Papua and dissolve the country," said Surya Anta, spokesman for the People's Front of Indonesia for West Papua.
In fact, Trikora was the name given to the Indonesian military operation to invade and annex the Dutch territory of New Guinea, which lasted nine months.
Demonstrators planned to march to Freeport's offices in Kuningan, South Jakarta, but were stopped by police in front of the Megaria cinema in the center of the city.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has elected the exiled independence leader Benny Wenda as its new leader.
Mr Wenda effectively replaces Octo Mote who was the general-secretary of the Movement, which is West Papuans' premier organisation for advancing independence from Indonesia.
For the past week, the Movement's executive has been in Vanuatu's capital for its first major summit since forming there three years ago.
During the summit, the Movement introduced new by-laws and a change in structure to a chairmanship in the organisation.
According to a member of the Liberation Movement executive, Andy Ayamiseba, the chairmanship is to be rotated.
This is a co-ordinative body so we don't want to encourage particular groups or individuals to dominate the Movement," Mr Ayamiseba explained.
"So we from the council committee, which is the supreme authority of the ULMWP, have elected Mr Benny Wenda to take over the leadership.”
from left:) United Liberation Movement for West Papua chairman Benny Wenda, Vanuatu prime minister Charlot Salwai and deputy prime minister Joe Natuman, as well as ULMWP deputy chairman Octo Mote at the Movement's summit in Port Vila, 1 December 2017. Photo: Australia West Papua Association
According to Mr Ayamiseba, the office building would serve as the Liberation's home base from where its international diplomacy lobbying efforts will be co-ordinated.
"It demonstrated the commitment of the Vanuatu government, as a member of the UN, to our case," he said.
Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai, and his deputy Joe Natuman, officially handed over the title to the land and the key to the on Friday, which was an important anniversary in the Papuan independence struggle.
The first of December is the anniversary of West Papua's declaration of independence when the Morning Star flag was first raised.
It's 56 years since the Papua nationalist flag was first officially flown in the former Dutch New Guinea, shortly before Indonesia took control of the territory.
The flag was subsequently banned after Indonesia took control of the former Dutch New Guinea in 1962.
3) Pacific Media Centre turns ten, discusses media freedom under threat
4:54 pm today
Auckland University of Technology's Pacific Media Centre has marked its tenth anniversary with a seminar discussing two of the wider region's most critical media freedom crises.
The 'Journalism Under Duress' seminar examined media freedom and human rights in Philippines and Indonesia's Papua region, otherwide known as West Papua.
The executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Malou Mangahas spoke about extrajudicial killings and an ongoing spate of murders of journalists in her country.
Threats to journalists in the Philippines have been on the rise since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power last year. However, according to Ms Mangahas, his "war on drugs" has seen over 7 thousand people killed, over often spurious allegations that they were drug dealers.
In the discussion about West Papua, the PMC seminar heard that access to the Indonesian region for foreign journalists, while still restricted, remained critical for helping Papuans' voices to be heard.
Many West Papuans don't trust Indonesian national media outlets in their coverage of Papua, while independent journalists in this region face regular threats by security forces for covering sensitive issues.
As well as a range of media books over the past decade, the PMC also publishes the long-running research journal Pacific Journalism Review.
"The Pacific Media Centre is rather unique in a New Zealand university context because it combines the attributes of a research and publication unit, and is also a media producer," said the PMC director Professor David Robie.
"The PMC provides a publishing environment for aspiring and young journalists to develop specialist expertise and skills in the Pacific region which is hugely beneficial for our mainstream media. All our graduates go on to very successful international careers.
"We also provide an important independent outlet for the untold stories of our region," he said.
Earlier, the head of the School of Communication Studies at AUT, Professor Berrin Yanıkkaya launched the book Conflict, Custom & Conscience: Photojournalism and the Pacific Media Centre 2007-2017, as well as the latest edition of the Pacific Journalism Review.
She said Professor Robie and his PMC colleagues had created "a channel for the voiceless to have a voice, a platform for the unseen to be seen”.
A Papua New Guinea MP has called for for enhanced defence co-operation with Australia and Indonesia to protect PNG's borders.
Belden Namah is the MP for Vanimo Green, an electorate in West Sepik province on the country's porous border with Indonesia.
He says cross-border trafficking of guns and illicit goods from Indonesia's Papua region remains a big problem for PNG.
Mr Namah told Johnny Blades that the government is asleep on the issue.
BELDEN NAMAH: There hasn't been much attention given to the Defence Force by the government, especially inadequate funding for them to be able to man the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. There has been a lot of illegal activities like smuggling of drugs, smuggling of weapons between the cross-border. Arms have been smuggled from the border between West Sepik and Western Province, and they're making their way up to the Highlands. It is a serious issue, and I can see that this issue is also now affecting the PNG LNG Project where the landowners take up arms and threaten to shut down the LNG Project. This is not really good for the country.
JOHNNY BLADES: Do you think PNG should be looking at more partnerships for its defence force with maybe Australia or Indonesia?
BN: We've had defence co-operation with Australia for a long, long time. But there hasn't been much done by the PNG government itself. We can't continue to rely on Australia. But yes in terms of partnership, there must be enhanced co-operation between Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia especially at the border to stop these illicit activities from happening along the border of the three countries, whether by sea or by land.
JB: So you'd like to see a more tightly guarded border?
BN: I'd like to see more funding into the Defence Force, into the the police, so that we give priority to manning the border, addressing the law and order issues in this country. I don;t see much attention being given by the government. In order for countries to develop, you have to firstly address the law and order issues. You may not eradicate them. Those problems will continue to be there. you have to come up with measures that will be able to control. And I would like to see more funding to be able to combat the law and order issues in the country, to be able to combat the illegal activities on the border. It used to be really good from the early 1970s, 1980s. It was only in recent times that there's not been much attention given.
JB: So, more needs to be done, more resourcing and effort...
BN: More needs to be done. And we also continue to have these incursions by Indonesian troops to our side of the border, and our people continue to live in fear because of these problems between Indonesia and the West Papua people, those fighting for freedom.