Wednesday, July 9, 2014

1) Academic says West Papuans 'cautious' over elections

1) Academic says West Papuans 'cautious' over elections
2) West Papuan plight overshadowed by Indonesian presidential election.

3) Academic says Joko likely to be better match for West Papua


1)Academic says West Papuans 'cautious' over elections

Updated at 2:22 pm today

An academic specialising in West Papua says people in the region are likely to be very cautious today as Indonesia heads to the polls to elect a new president.
The region's security forces are on full alert after calls for a boycott of the elections by indigenous West Papuan leaders.
Jim Elmslie, of the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, says the military have made it crystal clear that it won't tolerate anyone promoting a boycott.
"There's been people arrested for putting up posters and things but I gather that the actual boycott in West Papua at the moment is being promoted in a low-key way, if you like, people are not marching up and down the street, they are not talking from the street corners, because police have made it clear that they are not going to tolerate that."
Jim Elmslie says the boycott is a symbolic way for West Papuans to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo.


2) West Papuan plight overshadowed by Indonesian presidential election.

July 8, 2014

With the upcoming Presidential election, scheduled for the 9 July 2014, tensions are simmering across Indonesia. West Papuan activists have been demanding the respect of the right to self-determination from Indonesia for decades. In the run-up to the elections, the Indonesian military is threatening West Papuans who try to boycott the proceedings on election day.

Current president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia’s first directly elected president, has already served two terms and cannot seek to serve a third term. The main candidates for the upcoming elections are Jokowi-Kalla and Pradowo-Hatta. The former is the current Governor of Jakarta, who declares to tackle intolerance, discrimination and violence. Jokowi-Kalla also pledged to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Pradowo Subianto is a former commander in chief of the armed forces. He is courting the votes of the Front for the Defense of Islam (FDI), known for its violent attacks against minority Ahmadiyah, Shiite and Christian components. Human rights organizations and activists are reported to be worried about Subianto’s campaign and potential presidency over the country.  

Within this context, the struggle of the West Papuans remains largely unheard. On 4 July 2014, six activists from West Papua were arrested, beaten and taken to the Jayapura Police Station. They were peacefully distributing leaflets calling on people to boycott the Presidential election. The security forces have been gearing up already, in order to control various cities during election day.

West Papua lies in the western part of the island of New Guinea. The resource-rich region has been continuously exploited by non-native populations over the past decades. West Papua was first conquered by the Spanish, then the Dutch and finally, in 1969, Indonesia used brute force to compel the local populations to comply with the occupation of West Papua, and thus incorporation into Indonesia. In 1971, West Papua declared independence from Indonesia, an act that was met with repression and violence. Indigenous communities were forcibly relocated, and areas of West Papua were granted as concessions to multinational, transnational and Indonesian mining companies.
UNPO calls upon the Indonesian authorities to respect the indigenous rights of West Papuans and fight against ethnic discrimination, within the context of the upcoming elections and the internationally hailed democratic character of the country. UNPO also  urges the Indonesian Government to allow all citizens to peacefully demonstrate, and to ensure that all citizens enjoy freedom of speech and expression in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) which it ratified. 
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3) Academic says Joko likely to be better match for West Papua

Originally aired on Dateline Pacific, Wednesday 9 July 2014

An academic specialising in West Papua says Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo is likely to be more Papua friendly than his opponent Prabowo Subianto.

Audio duration:  6′ 9″ 


An academic specialising in West Papua says Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo is likely to be more Papua friendly than his opponent Prabowo Subianto.
Indonesia is holding its elections today amid calls from West Papuan leaders for Papuans to boycott the elections in protest.
Jim Elmslie, of the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, says Joko Widodo, known as 'Jokowi', appears to have a more conciliatory approach to West Papua when compared to Prabowo Subianto's militaristic style.
But Dr Elmslie also told Amelia Langford neither candidate is interested in giving West Papua independence.
JIM ELMSLIE: Prabowo is seen as taking Indonesia back to a more authoritarian mode of government and that would probably be reflected on the ground by a more hardline approach by the military and police even though they are taking a fairly hardline approach now. Jokowi is seen as more of a people's person and indeed he doesn't have a military background. In his visits to Papua he tried to talk to grassroots people at the market etcetera and I am sure he would be more open to taking a discursive approach rather than a militaristic approach to demonstrators and trying to sort of heal the rift, if you can say it like that, he sees the problem in Papua as a rift between the Papuan people and the Indonesian people and has talked about trying to embrace the Papuan people and to dissolve the problems in that manner.
AMELIA LANGFORD: Now you have mentioned he [Jokowi] has said something about healing the rift or wanting to heal the rift. Has he made any indication that he would look to the future of providing independence to West Papua?
JE: Oh, there is no question that for both candidates independence is completely off the table and for the vast majority of Indonesians it is not an option at all. So what they would be looking at trying to do is to resolve the problems there within the framework of maintaining West Papua as part of Indonesia. There are no politicians there who are talking about independence as an option. From their point of view, it is more how do you deal with this problem? How do you deal with this rift? Whether you deal with it with a hardline approach and you crack down on people who are demonstrating or whether you try and make concessions and you have some sort of dialogue or you make gestures to try and reconcile the conflict. And that's really how it has played out over the last 20, 30 years. It's most of the time hardline repression and then periods of openness particularly under Gus Dur [Abdurrahman Wahid] after 2000, which many Indonesian politicians remember with horror because they thought that Gus Dur - that by being conciliatory towards the Papuans he opened up a [can] of worms and the big congress of 2000 where the Papuans were outspoken in their demands for independence - that that really was a counter-development for Indonesia. So I think you will find, whoever comes in, they are not interested in talking about independence - that they both acknowledge that there are serious problems in West Papua and it is a matter of how to deal with them and for both the candidates are interested in economic development down there. They see Papua as the least developed part of Indonesia and that the problems might be resolved through economic development and increased services. Mind you, which was also an argument that was used in East Timor for many years, that East Timor's problems would diminish with economic development and that didn't really prove the case there.
AL: So for West Papuans, we've got two candidates here, and one might be slightly more attractive than the other, but both options are pretty unsatisfactory?
JE: Well, for the Papuans they are in effect trapped within Indonesia and they don't want to be but the nature of the  circumstance is they have found themselves against their wishes within the Indonesian nation. And certainly most, if not every Papuan I have talked to, would if given the chance not be in that situation but they are and it is a quandary for them. So I guess this boycott [of elections] to a large extent is symbolic and it is a message to people like yourself, and myself, saying, well reiterating this deep dissatisfaction of the status quo but also except for the options like economic development, possibly demilitarisation, what the Papuan people often express their desire for independence really is not an option for the Indonesian Government.
AL: How critical is this particular election for West Papua?
JE: Well I think it will be critical in the senses that I have mentioned - the general outlooks from the candidates. If you are a person living in that situation, where you are not free,  what you say and do can have very severe consequences to your personal freedom and health. If you are in an environment as you are now where there is almost complete impunity - where the police and the military will pick people up and beat them and in the worst extremes people have been killed and there are no sanctions on the police officers or the soldiers who did that. They don't justify their actions then you live in a climate of fear and that comes to an extent from Jakarta, from the president, and I think if I was a West Papuan - if Jokowi was the president I would feel slightly more at ease than if Prabowo was. Simply because Jokowi doesn't have a military background so he doesn't see government and authority through the lens of a military mind - that he is a civilian who believes to an extent that the military should be accountable rather than a law unto itself.

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