Tuesday, August 11, 2020

New report-Press Release: West Papua 2019 Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly Report

Press Release: West Papua 2019 Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly Report

(London, 12th August 2020) Surveillance, intimidation and harassment, protest dispersals, torture, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings continued in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, and in Indonesia more broadly, as the state tried to crack down on the contentious issue of West Papua’s self-determination in 2019.  Alarmingly, the Indonesian Government also used new tactics such as internet shutdown and cyber-attacks during the anti-racism protests and riots which culminated in the ‘West Papuan Uprising’ in August and September 2019. 

Last year, the Indonesian security forces arrested more than 1300 in demonstrations, peaceful rallies and gatherings that were related to West Papua. The majority of arrests took place in West Papua (Papua and West Papua Provinces) totalling 1175 people. The largest mass arrest was 756 which took place in September in West Papua during the Uprising. Outside West Papua, there were a total of 173 people arrested across the provinces of Bali, Maluku, North Maluku, East and West Java, North Sulawesi and Jakarta. By the end of 2019, 120 people had been charged of which 86 were charged with treason. These arrests were part of the police and authorities tactics to crack-down on political activities related to West Papua’s self-determination.  

While the majority of arrests were taking place during the West Papuan Uprising which took place between August and September 2019, lower level of arrests, intimidation and harassment occurred, targeting the political activist groups such as the West Papuan National Committee (KNPB), the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Papuan (university) Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua who are largely peaceful political activist groups. Non-political activist groups such as the human rights activists, Papuan Customary Council, women’s groups, university student groups, farmers and journalists experienced various forms of abuse from the state authorities. Some of the protest dispersals were forceful with protestors experience beatings from nationalist groups or torture from the state security forces. At least 20 people were killed in a direct action by police to disperse anti-racism protests in West Papua in September 2019.  

During the Uprising, the Indonesian state also used new methods such as blocking internet access in West Papua. The Indonesian Government’s declared reason was that it was to prevent the spread of ‘fake news’ however it was a clear attempt to prevent information coming out of West Papua. Although the method was new it clearly followed a well-established pattern of violation of freedom of expression and assembly around the world.  

TAPOL has documented over 100 cases of incidents of violations of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly on West Papua in 2019.  In this report, the West Papua 2019 Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly Report, we aim to highlight those violations and provide recommendations to the Indonesian Government as well as to the international community to draw attention to the situation of freedom of expression and association in Indonesia particularly on West Papua.  

-End-

For Media inquiry contact
Pelagio Doutel (TAPOL Campaigner)
Email: 
pelagio@tapol.org / info@tapol.org 
Whatsapp: +447395429852
TAPOL Website: https://www.tapol.org/

 

1) Activist Veronica Koman Ordered to Return Entire Scholarship Funds


2) PMC protests to Facebook over censored West Papua 

——————————

1) Activist Veronica Koman Ordered to Return Entire Scholarship Funds 
Translator: Ricky Mohammad Nugraha  
 Editor: Laila Afifa 
11 August 2020 23:49 WIB

TEMPO.COJakarta - The Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP), a scholarship program managed by the Finance Ministry, has demanded human rights lawyer Veronica Koman to return the scholarship funds she obtained from the program that amounts to Rp773.8 million. 
The LPDP president director, Rionald Silaban, confirmed the information to Tempo on Tuesday, August 11. “That is correct, LPDP has asked Veronica Koman Liau to return the entire scholarship funds we have granted.”
According to Rionald, the LPDP scholarship contract requires recipients who study abroad to return to Indonesia after they had completed their studies. He claimed that LPDP, through numerous methods, attempted to summon Veronica Koman upon this specific requirement. 
“The person had refused to return to Indonesia,” said Rionald. 

However, Veronica denied she had ignored the rule and in a written statement mentioned that she had returned to Indonesia in September of 2018 after completing her Masters of Laws at the Australian National University. 
Rionald Silaban did not answer Tempo’s question regarding Veronica’s confirmation. 
In October of 2018, Veronica Koman claimed to have conducted a human rights advocacy and served at the Human Rights Advocates Association for Papua (PAHAM Papua) based in Jayapura. She continued to venture into an advocacy mission at the United Nations in Switzerland in March 2019 before returning to Indonesia again. 
“While in Australia in August of 2019, I was summoned by the Indonesian police and my name was then included in their most-wanted list (DPO) in September of 2019,” said Veronica who was subjected to death and rape threats during the time as she voiced against the narrative echoed by authorities in August - September of 2019. 
FRISKI RIANA
——————————-


note imagies in report

2) PMC protests to Facebook over censored West Papua 
news item By Pacific Media Watch -  August 11, 2020


The Pacific Media Centre has protested to Facebook over censorship of a West Papuan media freedom news item in what its director, Professor David Robie, has described as an Orwellian example of the “tyranny of algorithms”.
The news item, published by the International Federation of Journalists on its Asia-Pacificwebsite, reported the content of the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review, saying that it “highlights the growing need to address media freedom in the region, particularly in Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and West Papua”.
IFJ added a rider saying it was “concerned about the ongoing media repression and urges governments across the region to uphold journalist rights”.
Dr Robie attempted to share this item with several Facebook media groups, including The Pacific Newsroom with about 9000 followers, but each time immediately received a blocking message from Facebook declaring:
“Your post goes against our community standards on nudity or sexual activity.

“Only people who manage Pacific Media Centre can see this post. We have standards because some audiences are sensitive to different things when it comes to nudity.”
The algorithm-dictated objection to “nudity” apparently was because IFJ had published a photo from last year’s “Papua Uprising” in the Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua in response to a racist attack on students in the central Java city of Surabaya. Two of the male protesters were partly naked according to Papuan highlands tradition.

Orwellian action
In a message to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders media freedom advocacy watchdog, Dr Robie said the Facebook action was Orwellian and an example of the random “tyranny of algorithms”.
“Anybody with common sense would see that the photograph in question was not ’nudity’ in the community standards sense of Facebook’s guidelines.
“This was a media freedom item and the news agency picture shows a student protest against racism in Jayapura on August 19, 2019. Two apparently naked men are wearing traditional koteka (penis gourds) as normally worn in the Papuan highlands.
“It is a strong cultural protest against Indonesian repression and crackdowns on media. Clearly the Facebook algorithms are arbitrary and lacking in cultural balance.”
Dr Robie attempted three times to file a challenge over this “arbitrary” decision on August 7, but received no reply and his Facebook page still carries a standards breach “warning” that will remain in force “for a year”.

“This is absurd. The challenge process is a farce – merely a button with no field to enter specific reasons,” he told Pacific Media Watch.
“All I got was an automated message saying that ‘we usually offer the chance to request a review, and follow up if we got decisions wrong’. However, it added that ‘we have fewer reviewers available right now because of the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak’.”
It was bizarre in that the original IFJ item on Facebook was apparently not blocked, just the PMC shared versions, he said.

Another censored photo
In April 2018, Facebook censored a West Papua photo by Vanuatu-based photographer Ben Bohane that also showed traditional koteka.
In response to this latest example of “community” censorship, Bohane wrote on social media: “Facebook happily keeps taking Indonesian money for disinformation ads on West Papua, so no surprises they try to block legitimate news and photos from there…”
Nick Chesterfield of West Papua Media said this incident came just months after Facebook was “skull dragged into removing thousands of Indonesian intelligence agency bot accounts that were used for trolling, harassing and threatening journalists and human rights defenders, and posting fake news”.
He accused the Facebook team of “once again using their opaque, toxic and racist ‘community standards’ censorship machine” to support the Indonesian occupation of West Papua.
The Pacific Media Centre has protested to the Facebook policy director for Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, but at the time of publication had yet to receive a reply.

1) Pressure on Indonesian students speaking out on Papua




2) Lend support for continuation of special autonomy status: Papua figure 
---------------

1) Pressure on Indonesian students speaking out on Papua

7:51 pm on 10 August 2020    Johnny Blades
Johnny Blades, RNZ Pacific Journalist johnny.blades@rnz.co.nz

Indonesian students becoming engaged in the West Papuan human rights struggle are under pressure from authorities.
Human rights advocates have called for the reinstatement of four Indonesian university students expelled for protesting against human rights abuses in Papua, including one young man charged and facing a lengthy prison term for his actions.
A demonstration for West Papuan self-determination by people from other parts of Indonesia in Yogayakarta. Photo: FRI WEST PAPUA
The four students were kicked out of Khairun University, a public institution on Ternate Island in North Maluku province, for participating in the protest last December.
The protest involved about 50 students who called for Indonesia's government to release Papuan political prisoners and grant Papuans self-determination.
Video footage showed the protesters were forcefully dispersed by police, with some officers roughing up students before a number of arrests were made.
Within days the rector of Khairun University received a notification letter from police and then used this as a reference to sign a decree to dismiss the four students, saying they had breached the ethics of being a student, and threatened national security.
Then the university's deputy rector for Student Affairs & Alumni Affairs, Syawal Abdulajit, issued a further statement saying the students had committed acts of 'treason' by siding with armed Papuan "separatists.
Human Rights Watch flagged concern about the move, saying the university should support academic freedom and free expression, not expel students peacefully expressing their view.
A civil lawsuit brought by the students, challenging their dismissal, is underway in the Ambon state administrative court.
But matters become more serious when one of the four students, Arbi Nur, was last month charged with "treason" and "public provocation", for which he faces a maximum of 26 years in prison.
A spokesman for the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua, or FRI-WP, to which Arbi Nur belonged, said that when the students filed the lawsuit, a second police letter of notification was issued saying an investigation into Nur was ongoing.
"The notification letter from the head of the Ternate police can't be used as a lawful reference to expel Arbi and other students," said FRI-WP's Nanang Kosim.
Human Rights Watch's Andreas Harsono said authorities should drop the charges against Arbi Nur, as they violated his right to freedom of expression.
He also urged the Indonesian government to investigate the matter, as well as the alleged excessive use of force by police against students.

Established four years ago, FRI-WP is mainly made up of university students and activists, and has a growing presence in the country.
According to Nanang Kosim, with the Black Lives Matter movement being applied within the local context, more Indonesians were now paying attention to racism against West Papuans.
But when it came to their public actions, FRI-WP and others who spoke up, often have problems from police or military, he explained.
"Beating or yelling at us 'traitor to the nation'; stalk or terrorise us, use propaganda, or as recently happened, some of us were accused of treason and expelled from campus," Kosim said.
"In blocking our activities security forces often use other parties. For example when they forcibly dispersing our discussion or demonstration, police or army usually use reactionary civil society organisations or some organisation that they built to attack us.
"They did it so it would look like horizontal conflict, so they can run from human rights violations."
Equally disturbing is the picture emerging of a collaboration between university management and police to pressure students involved in activities related to the human rights problem in West Papua.
———————————————
2) Lend support for continuation of special autonomy status: Papua figure  
3 hours ago
Jayapura (ANTARA) - A Papuan youth figure appealed to Papua's groups to support the continuation of the special autonomy status granted to Papua and West Papua to guarantee sustainable development in all sectors of life in both provinces.

In conversation with ANTARA in Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province, on Tuesday, Tanus Komba opined that rejecting the continuation of the law on special autonomy (Otsus), passed during the administration of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri in 2001, was not a solution.

Komba agreed to a deliberation on revising this special autonomy law rather than rejecting it on account of its crucial role in boosting regional development in public sectors, such as health, education, and infrastructure.

The Papuan youth figure asserted that the special autonomy status granted by the central government to Papuans reflected Indonesia's care for its people.

"We must be proud of it because only Papua and Aceh have been granted this privilege. Hence, we must support it," Komba emphasized.

On Saturday, several Papuan community and religious leaders had also expressed support for extending the provision of special autonomy funds since their transfer will end in 2021.

"Many of us can be assisted owing to the special autonomy funds. Without the funds, our buildings remain unsightly and damaged," Soleman Eselo, the Yalimo community leader, stated.

Eselo pointed out that the special autonomy funds granted by the government to the provinces of Papua and West Papua for several years were vastly beneficial for Papuans living in the remote mountainous areas to achieve success in various fields.

"I have been partaking in the process of edifying Papuans coming from mountainous and hilly regions since 1981. Many of them have been promoted to serve as bureaucrats owing to the availability of special autonomy funds that had assisted us," he noted.

Echoeing Eselo's views, Christian priest Merry Lauren Wompere, a member of the Solagratia Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Solagratia) of Arso II in Keerom District, affirmed that Papua Province's development was much better during the special autonomy era.

"Representing the GKI Solagratia Jaifuri congregation, I appeal (to the government) for the continuation of the special autonomy status granted to Papua for the sake of development and progress," Wompere stated.

According to Wompere, those rejecting the special autonomy status did not represent the voice of Papuan people's conscience.

"Instead, they are the enemies of Papuans," Wompere cautioned.

The Soekarnoputri administration had passed a law on special autonomy in the provinces of Papua and West Papua in 2001 to guarantee Papuans the right to manage their own region politically, economically, and culturally.

The law also stipulated the allotment of special autonomy funds, valid for a period of two decades.

As the transfer of funds will end in 2021, the House of Representatives has included the deliberation of Papua's special autonomy status in this year's National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list.

Related news: Awaiting final fate of Papua, West Papua's special autonomy funds

Related news: Papuan community leaders support extension of special autonomy status


Close

EDITED BY INE

Reporter: Alfian R, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
--------------------------

Sunday, August 9, 2020

1) Amnesty International considers military in Tambrauw had violated Convention Against Torture


2) Misgovernance could be a factor of the Special Autonomy inefficiency
3 ) Awaiting final fate of Papua, West Papua’s special autonomy funds
4) Papuan community leaders support extension of special autonomy status
5) Why I stand for my tribe’s forest: It gives us food, culture, and life (commentary
—————————
1) Amnesty International considers military in Tambrauw had violated Convention Against Torture
 Admin1 August 9, 2020 10:56 pm





Manokwari, Jubi – Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia Usman Hamid was concerned about violence occurring to four Kosyefo residents by Indonesian soldiers in Kwoor Sub-district, Tambrauw Regency. He thought this act of violence had violated the Convention Against Torture.
“We regret that violence against civilians by the military in Papua is still happening. This kind of action would not only cause physical injuries to victims but is also inhumane and degrades their dignity as human beings. Such acts of violence had violated the Convention Against Torture. It should not be accepted if the state apparatus whose tasks are to protect citizens and abide by law conducted such repressive violence towards civilians. This case reveals the unprofessionalism of military officers,” Hamid as cited in the official release on Tuesday, (4/8/2020).
In this year, according to Hamid, there are many cases of torture and extrajudicial killing against civilians in Papua that involved military and police officers. Recently the extrajudicial killing involving police officers took place in Nduga and Asiki, while a police officer allegedly killed a banana farmer Marius Bertera.

Regarding these series of violent acts, Hamid said the State should be responsible for the human rights violations that continue to happen in Papua and Papua Barat provinces. Therefore, the Amnesty International urges the Indonesian Government to conduct an independent and transparent investigation in which the alleged perpetrators should commit punishment because apologies and internal sanctions are not enough.
“We urge the State to ensure there is no longer impunity against the law. We suspect that there is a direct relation between law impunity and any failure and delay of authorities in investigating the human rights violations in Papua and Papua Barat provinces. The law impunity is a serious threat to human rights,” Hamid said in the release received by Jubi.


In the meantime, Tambrauw Regent Gabriel Asem has not given any responses to confirm the violence acts by the military until this article was published.
Earlier, a video showing four men in military uniform committed verbal violence against six indigenous Papuans. In the 3 minutes 37-second video uploaded on YouTube TV West Papua on 2 August 2020, those soldiers were shouting to those six locals, which three of them were not wearing clothes, while the incident identified to occur in Kwoor Sub-District, Tambrauw Regency, Papua Barat.
The local sources of the Amnesty International from the Legal Aid Research and Development (LP3BH) Manokwari and the Coalition for Law and Human Rights Enforcement Papua have reported that the incident in the video occurred on 28 July 2020.
At that moment, soldiers from the Army Strategic Command (Kostrad) Kwoor base came to the location where the meeting to settle the dispute among Kosyefo residents took place at 1 pm local time. The soldiers forced the four men—Neles Yenjau (35 yo), Karlos Yeror (35 yo), Harun Yewen (30 yo) and Piter Yengres (27 yo)—to take off their clothes.
According to LP3BH, the soldiers then shouted on those young men and kicked their chest and stomach three times before leaving the scene. The Coalition for Law and Human Rights Enforcement Papua reported that three of four men have recovered and returned to their home in rural Kosyefo while another one is still under treatment by his family.
However, a local media reported that the Spokesperson of Regional Military Command Kasuari denied the violent acts by its members. He clarified that the incident captured in the video was a military method to discipline local young men based on the request by the local community. They often committed vandalism and threatened people when they were drunk.
The violent act, continued Hamid, is a form of torture prohibited in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). The convention has been ratified by Law No.5/1998 which firmly declares that each State Participant must take legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
Therefore, such violent acts by the military can be categorised to violate this article. The human rights perpetrators must take before the criminal justice system instead of the internal discipline handling system. Although the disciplinary sanction could occur upon the ongoing legal process, it could not replace the trial on the court.
The UN Committee of Human Rights as the authoritative interpreter of the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) declares that the State must conduct a thorough and effective investigation on alleged human rights violations immediately. It should establish independent and impartial institutions for investigation and must guarantee the appliance of trials against those who are responsible and to provide the right of reparations for the victims.
“In the national law framework, the rights to not being torture has also been guaranteed in the Constitution, namely in Article 281 and Article 4 of the Law No.39 of 1999 on Human Rights. The law states that every person should be free of any acts of violence and tortures. These rights are absolute and cannot be reduced under any circumstances,” said Hamid. (*)

Reporter: Hans Kapisa
Editor: Pipit Maizier

————————————



2) Misgovernance could be a factor of the Special Autonomy inefficiency

 Admin1 August 9, 2020 10:51 pm
Makassar, Jubi – Regional Secretary of Jayapura Municipal Government Frans Pekey said misgovernance could be a factor to cause the inadequate implementation of the Special Autonomy policy in Papua.
According to him, the government must apply good governance in bureaucracy to manage the Special Autonomy Fund that includes the policy by regional heads in appointing officials in the structure of government.
Unfortunately, it does not apply in Papua. Many officials hold the position that does not match with their competency and educational background, Frans Pekey said in an online forum to discuss the Special Autonomy and the Future of Peace Building in Papua Land”. The discussion was organised by the Papua Peace Network on Monday (3/8/2020) with Victor Mambor as moderator.

“The assignment of officials was often based on political factors instead of their competence. This affects their performance,” said Pekey.
Furthermore, human resources have not well distributed in Papua. Also, some government officials are rarely in their post that in turns affecting the public services.

“The current problems are the competence of the bureaucrats and how they manage the governance,” he said.
He also admitted that in terms of amount, the Special Autonomy Fund in Papua is quite big every year while the cost disparities and geographical condition should consider causing high cost in Papua.
“But in terms of financial management, it has not been optimum. Therefore, it is time for everyone to look forward to a prosperous and peaceful future for Papua,” he said.
During the discussion, the Coordinator of Papua Peace Network Adriana Elizabeth said some parties thought that the Special Autonomy policy should bring justice and solve any problems in Papua.
They offered a sectoral dialogue which is an approach that needs support from any policies or programs, including the evaluation on the Special Autonomy policy.
“When the option for revision emerged, it should extend to a thorough evaluation, including how to stop violence to occur in Papua. These voices are often silenced. Besides, there should be a program of trauma recovery in Papua. This trauma can present fear, trigger militancy of resistance,” said Adriana Elizabeth. (*)

Reporter: Arjuna Pademme
Editor: Pipit Maizier


—————————————-


3) Awaiting final fate of Papua, West Papua’s special autonomy funds  
14 hours ago

The Papuan people are currently consolidating to show their supports for a necessity to evaluate and continue the provision of granted special autonomy funds for Papua and West Papua Provinces that will end in 2021.

Several Papuan community and religious leaders have appealed to the central government to extend the provision of the granted special autonomy funds to maintain sustainable development and improve the people's welfare in these two Indonesian provinces.

One of the influential Papuan figures showing his support for the extension of the granted special autonomy funds is the Yalimo community leader, Soleman Eselo.

Eselo argued that owing to the special autonomy funds, many of the native Papuan people could have been assisted. "Without the funds, our buildings remain ugly and get damaged."

Related news: Papuan community leaders support extension of special autonomy status

The special autonomy funds that the government has granted to Papua and West Papua Provinces for many years are so helpful for Papuans living in remote mountains to achieve their successes in various fields.

"I have been participating in educating Papuans coming from mountainous and hilly regions since 1981. Many of them have been promoted to be bureaucrats owing to availability of the special autonomy funds that has made us get assisted," Eselo said.

Christian priest Merry Lauren Wompere, a member of the Solagratia Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Solagratia) of Arso II in Keerom District, also shared Eselo's views saying that Papua Province's development was much better during the special autonomy era.

"Representing the GKI Solagratia Jaifuri congregation, I appeal (to the government) to continue the special autonomy for the sake of development and progress in Papua," Wompere said.

Those rejecting the special autonomy funds did not represent the voice of Papuan people's conscience. "Instead, they are the enemies of the Papuan people," Wompere said.

Meanwhile, Tiombro Wenda, deputy community leader of the Pegunungan Tengah mountain range in Keerom District, also appealed to the central government to keep granting the special autonomy funds to ensure sustainable development in Papua and West Papua.

"Those who disagree with the extension of the special autonomy do not represent the Papuan people's voice of conscience," Wenda said.

Evaluating the implementation of the special autonomy funds is indispensable but, according to Yanto Eluay, a local community leader in Jayapura, all communities in Papua must see the granting of the funds from the perspective of the people's welfare.

To this end, all traditional communities in Papua are urged to support for what the government will do and decide for the sake of the people's welfare, he said.

Currently, the Tabi and Saireri community members are consolidating to support for evaluating and continuing the provision of these granted special autonomy funds, Eluay said.

Related news: MPR speaker backs extension of autonomy funds for Papua, West Papua

Regarding this special autonomy fund-related issue, People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo has called on the government and House of Representatives (DPR) to extend the special autonomy funds for Papua and West Papua.

"With the government and House's political decision, I hope that the provision of the granted special autonomy funds can be extended," he told journalists on the sidelines of his visit to Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya District, Papua Province, in early March.

However, Soesatyo recalled that the uses of the autonomy funds, which have been granted to Papua Province over for the past 18 years and to West Papua Province for 13 years, should be more effectively directed to improve the welfare of the people.

He highlighted the importance of more effective uses of the funds for improving social prosperity, education, and health of the general public in the two provinces.

The total amount of special autonomy funds that the central government has provided to Papua and West Papua since 2012 has reached Rp126.99 trillion. Therefore, their uses need to be optimized for the sake of the public, he said.

Evaluating the uses of these funds is needed, but it is not for the purpose of looking for mistakes. Instead, the evaluation is aimed at how to make their uses more effective in bringing prosperity to the residents of Papua and West Papua.

More importantly, peace needs to be preserved and prevented from being disrupted by notorious armed Papuan criminals who have frequently threatened the safety and security of the people in the two provinces.

Referring to Indonesia's 2019 human development index, the scores of Papua and West Papua were recorded at 64.7 and 60.84 respectively.

Owing to this factual reality, improving the quality of human resources must be prioritized by the Papuan and West Papuan provincial administrations with or without the extended prevision of special autonomy funds amid a fierce competition among Indonesians and among nations in the digital era.

Related news: Jokowi confirms total evaluation of Papua's special autonomy status
In dealing with these security issues, Bambang Soesatyo suggested that armed Papuan criminals be approached, not only law enforcement, but also through intensive discussions by involving all parties, including local officials and religious figures.

Besides the security issues, human resources development is another important matter that also needs to be evaluated thoroughy because the scores of Papua and West Papua's human development index remains lower than those of other provinces.
Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Several Papuan community and religious leaders have appealed to the central government to extend the special autonomy status which will end in 2021 to maintain sustainable development and improve the people's welfare in Papua and West Papua Provinces.

"Thanks to the special autonomy funds, many of us can be assisted. Without the funds, our buildings remain ugly and damaged," the Yalimo community leader, Soleman Eselo, said in Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province, on Saturday.

Eselo said the special autonomy funds that the government has granted to Papua and West Papua Provinces for many years are so helpful for Papuans living in remote mountains to achieve their successes in various fields.

"I have been participating in educating Papuans coming from mountainous and hilly regions since 1981. Many of them have been promoted to be bureaucrats owing to availability of the special autonomy funds that has made us get assisted," he said.

Christian priest Merry Lauren Wompere, a member of the Solagratia Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Solagratia) of Arso II in Keerom District, also shared Eselo's views saying that Papua Province's development was much better during the special autonomy era.

"Representing the GKI Solagratia Jaifuri congregation, I appeal (to the government) to continue the special autonomy status for the sake of development and progress in Papua," Wompere said.

Those rejecting the special autonomy status did not represent the voice of Papuan people's conscience. "Instead, they are the enemies of the Papuan people," Wompere said.

Meanwhile, Tiombro Wenda, deputy community leader of the Pegunungan Tengah mountain range in Keerom District, also appealed to the central government to keep granting the special autonomy status to ensure sustainable development in Papua and West Papua.

"Those who disagree with the extension of the special autonomy do not represent the Papuan people's voice of conscience," Wenda said.

Regarding this special autonomy issue, a local community leader in Jayapura, Yanto Eluay, said the Tabi and Saireri community members are consolidating to support for evaluating and continuing the granting of the government's special autonomy.

"All communities in Papua must see the granting of special autonomy from the perspective of people's welfare. All traditional communities in Papua are urged to support for what the government will do and decide for the sake of the people's welfare," he said.

The former president Megawati Soekarnoputri administration passed a law on special autonomy in Papua and West Papua provinces in 2001 to guarantee Papuans the right to manage their own region politically, economically and culturally. The law also stipulated the allocation of special autonomy funds, valid for 20 years.

As the transfer of funds will end in 2021, the House of Representatives has included deliberation of Papua’s special autonomy status in this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list.

Related news: MPR speaker backs extension of autonomy funds for Papua, West Papua
Related news: Jokowi confirms total evaluation of Papua's special autonomy status
Related news: Jokowi vows to extend Aceh Special Autonomy fund
Reporter: Alfian R, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati

————————-
(note. lots of photos/maos in article)

5 ) Why I stand for my tribe’s forest: It gives us food, culture, and life (commentary
 Commentary by Arkilaus Kladit on 8 August 2020

  • For the occasion of International Indigenous Peoples Day August 9, 2020, Arkilaus Kladit, a member of the Knasaimos-Tehit people in South Sorong Regency in West Papua Province, Indonesia, writes about the importance of his tribe’s customary forests.
  • Arkilaus, who is a member of the Knasaimos Indigenous Peoples Council, describes his tribe’s long struggle to secure recognition of his tribe’s customary lands by the Indonesian government.
  • Arkilaus explains how the Knasaimos-Tehit people are dependent on forests for food, community resilience, and cultural significance.
  • This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay…..
  • https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/i-am-fighting-for-my-tribes-forest-it-gives-us-food-culture-and-life-commentary/
————