Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1) Papua-Wide meeting calls for 10 year Moratorium on Plantation and Forestry Industries

2) Don‚t Trust Wikipedia on Indonesia

3) Lake Sentani figures move new National Gallery of Australia boss Gerard Vaughan

1) Papua-Wide meeting calls for 10 year Moratorium on Plantation and Forestry Industries

Between 4th-7th November 2014, representatives of indigenous communities, environmentalists and human rights defenders from every corner of West Papua met in Jayapura to discuss problems linked to the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, which in recent years have been expanding rapidly throughout the island. This was an important meeting, as the difficulties and expense of travel around Papua means that communities are frequently isolated to face the companies alone, even though the problems they face are remarkably similar. With many more plantation companies set to start operations within the next few years, and timber companies still keen to harvest high-value logs, it is also vital to share the (often bitter) experiences of communities which have already seen how these industries operate, and also to formulate some common platform of demands with which to confront government and policy makers.
Participants at the event heard about the long-term injustices connected with plantations in Jayapura, Keerom and Boven Digoel, where land was taken with military backing during the Suharto dictatorship causing problems which are still not resolved. In Papua’s deep south, participants told of how they have been marginalised by plantations connected to the MIFEE agribusiness development. Others from Sorong, Nabire and Mimika, told of how they were unprepared for the problems which started unfolding as the companies moved in. Delegates from Bintuni and Wondama Bays explained how the effects of the timber industry on communities are no less destructive.
In many of these cases, the same problems could be seen to emerge time and time again: intimidation from military and police officers supporting the companies, loss of livelihood as the forest is destroyed, companies’ broken promises to bring development to communities, environmental problems such as pollution, flooding and loss of water sources. Taking all this into account, the participants agreed to call on all agencies involved in allowing these industries to address these problems.
Top of the list was a call for a 10 year moratorium into for large-scale plantation and forestry investment, during which time part violations should be resolved, and the challenge of finding a way that these industries could exist on indigenous land without disadvantaging indigenous people. Hopefully we will translate some of the testimony on this site soon, in the meantime here is the full list of recommendations:
Organisations involved in organising the event were: Yaysan Pusaka, Greenpeace Papua, SKP Jayapura, Jerat Papua, Foker LSM Papua and Jasoil Papua. A copy of this declaration in Indonesian together with a list of participants can be found at:


Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.

Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development

Today, Friday the seventh of November two thousand and fourteen, in the Maranatha Convent, Waena, Jayapura,
After hearing and discussing Reports of Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries from throughout the land of Papua, and also discussing various developments in development policy, we as representatives of indigenous communities from twelve Regencies or cities throughout the land of Papua, want to hereby make clear that the state has violated and ignored our human rights, by not protecting, respecting and advancing the rights of indigenous communities throughout the land of Papua, including: acts of discrimination, repression and expropriation of what rightfully belongs to indigenous people throughout Papua. These human rights violations, which have occurred between 1982 and 2014, have caused great loss for indigenous people, as their social and cultural fabric and their natural environment disappear. Because of this, we as representatives of indigenous people who have suffered because of the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, coming from twelve regencies and cities, hereby state the following:
1. To the President of the Republic of Indonesia, to issue a ten-year moratorium on forestry and large-scale plantation development throughout the land of Papua. During the moratorium period, the government would resolve the different problems and violations of indigenous communities’ rights that have already occurred, and amend policies and legislation currently in force in the land of Papua.
2. To the Governors of Papua and West Papua Provinces, to reconsider all policies concerning the granting of permits for the forestry and large-scale plantation industries which disadvantage indigenous people across the land of Papua.
To the Commander of Military District XVII Cenderawasih Command and the Papuan Police Chief, to discipline and take action against any members of the military and police forces who openly participate in pressurising and intimidating indigenous people that wish to defend their rights throughout the land of Papua. Also to take action against members of the forces who are either directly engaged in illegal business involving forest products, or back-up and protect others in such businessses.
4. To Bupatis and city mayors throughout the land of Papua, to end the practice of unconditionally giving out permits and recommendations in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.
To the honourable members of the Papuan and West Papua People’s Assemblies (MRP), to hold a Special Dialogue with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, and the Environment and Forestry Ministry, concerning making changes in policy and regulations related to forestry and large-scale plantation investment in the land of Papua, both ongoing and in the future, which would be based on indigenous peoples’ rights and the spirit of Papuan Special Autonomy.
To the Provincial Legislative Councils in Papua and West Papua, to form a Special Committee to conduct investigations into the violations of indigenous communities’ human rights in the land of Papua, which are a result of policies and investment activities in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.
To Customary Tribal Councils throughout the land of Papua, to organise reconciliation and customary assemblies in each area to map the customary lands of each tribe/ethnic group and follow up the findings of this Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.
8, to take an active role in reporting violations in human rights and environmental problems so they can be brought to the attention of wider society and institutions that are actively attempting to protect, respect and advance human rights at the Papuan, national and international levels.
9. Participants of the Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries – Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development hereby declare the foundation of the Indigenous People’s Environmental Council in the Land of Papua (Dewan Lingkungan Masyarakat Adat di Tanah Papua).
These are the recommendations which have been made and agreed together, and we hope they will be heeded and implemented. May our ancestors and the Creator be with us all.
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From Etan vis regwestpapualist

2) Don‚t Trust Wikipedia on Indonesia

Written by Warren Doull

Time to demilitarize the Wiki Bahasa version
With the great hope for Indonesian democracy, President Joko „Jokowi‰ Widodo, taking office last month, pro-democracy groups in the country are buzzing. They are asking that he tend to unresolved injustices like grievances in remote Papua, reconciliation for the bloody 1965 „anti-communist‰ purges and the abductions of political activists in 1997-1998.

I have a simpler request, and it goes for Indonesian NGOs and pressure groups also. Bring balance to the Indonesian version of Wikipedia. While it may not always be the most accurate or objective source of information, Wikipedia is certainly a popular source of information. Indeed, the Bahasa version of Wikipedia is approaching one million articles. So the Indonesian public is not well served if articles about certain retired generals and political groups are presented in a one-sided manner in Indonesian.

For example, when it talks about former general AM Hendropriyono, who was a transition team advisor to Jokowi, Wikipedia Bahasa verges on propaganda. So, too, when it talks about East Timor and the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Wikipedia‚s Indonesian version tells Bahasa Indonesia speakers that, during his early days as a special forces commander, Hendropriyono „not only paid attention to the welfare of his soldiers, but also to their discipline.„ In 1991, Hendropriyono „wisely and methodically moved coffee farmers from a protected forest‰ in two sub-districts of Lampung province. It also vaguely notes an incident in Lampung in 1989, when Hendropriyono „succeeded in eliminating potential radicalism that was growing in the Talangsari area‰ („berhasil mengeliminasi potensi radikalisme yang tumbuh di kawasan Talangsari‰). The entry doesn‚t mention accusations that at least 27 farmers were killed by Hendropriyono‚s soldiers during this incident.

Nor does the article mention Hendropriyono‚s suspected involvement in the murder of activist Munir, who died on board a Garuda Indonesia airliner in 2004 after being poisoned. Or his suspected funding of pro-Indonesian militias who murdered over 1000 civilians in East Timor in 1999.  The only hint of his controversial past is a revision on Aug. 20, 2014 that says vaguely: „Hendropriyono is said to have been connected to a number of human rights violations.‰

Sutiyoso, a former governor of Jakarta, gets similarly flattering treatment. The article mentions that Sutiyoso became governor for two periods (1997-2002, 2002-2007). It praises his efforts to reduce traffic congestion but avoids mention of Sutiyoso‚s questionable progress in addressing overcrowding, poor drainage, crime and many other problems.

In fact, after 10 years with Sutiyoso as Jakarta governor, the city was ranked one of the least liveable in the world. The Mercer rankings for 2008 had Jakarta at 146 for liveability, slightly behind Bangalore and Mumbai, which ranked 140 and 142, respectively, and far behind Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, ranked 75 and 109 respectively. When Munir and other leading social activists criticised Sutiyoso‚s handling of floods in Jakarta in 2002, they were physically assaulted by hired thugs.

A section about Sutiyoso‚s „coffee mornings‰ with community leaders might suggest he was a popular democrat. The article doesn‚t mention that he was hand-picked by Suharto for his first term as governor and appointed indirectly by members of parliament for his second term. Sutiyoso, also a former general, was the last Jakarta governor to reach office without a direct election. 

It also doesn‚t mention that he was governor when hired thugs attacked an opposition political party‚s headquarters in 1997, or that Sutiyoso is suspected of being involved in various corruption cases. One suspicious case was the alleged bribery of senior Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) official Roy Janis and Taufik Kiemas, the husband of PDI-P chair and former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, in 2000. (PDI-P is also Jokowi‚s party, although he only became active in 2005 when he became mayor of the East Java city of Solo.)

Later, Sutiyoso‚s own deputy recommended he be investigated for corruption over land titles.  While presenting Sutiyoso as popular, the article omitted to mention that Sutiyoso has, since 2010, been the chairperson of a political party, PKPI, which received less than 1% of the vote in the 2014 national legislative elections.

Sutiyoso did well to serve as governor of Jakarta for a decade without being prosecuted for corruption, but the article might have been more balanced if it had mentioned some of the many queries that have been voiced against him.

In contrast, in covering more prominent Indonesian military figures, like Suharto, Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto, Wiki-Bahasa is balanced. The English version of Wikipedia is far less detailed in its information about Hendropriyono and Sutiyoso, but also less glowing in its praise.

In the cases of Sutiyoso and Hendropriyono, the history tab of each Wikipedia page reveals there was much minor editing this year, and many different editors seem to have been involved. However there has been very little debate over substantive issues, such as whether specific events or accusations are included, or whether particular terminology is too strong.

Besides being used as an apparent vehicle for certain retired Indonesian generals, the Bahasa version of Wikipedia also contains more general propaganda. It still tells Indonesians that their country invaded East Timor on Dec. 7, 1975, following a request from a Timorese political faction in November of that year. In fact, numerous Indonesian military personnel, including Sutiyoso himself, have admitted they were fighting in East Timor at least a month before the November 28 plea for help arrived. Wiki-Bahasa further explains that, „The population wanted to integrate with Indonesia because they had the same culture as their brothers in West Timor.‰

No wonder many Indonesians were confused in 1999 when 79.6 percent of voters in East Timor rejected integration with Indonesia! A related Wikipedia article on Timor Leste, the young country‚s formal name, refers to fighting in 1976-1980 and 1999 as an internal conflict among Timorese.

The English version of Wikipedia is more balanced (or arguably too critical, from an Indonesian military point of view) about what it terms the Indonesian „occupation‰ rather than „integration‰ of East Timor.

The Bahasa version of Wikipedia similarly offers a distorted view of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). Indonesians are told OPM „rejects economic development and modernity.‰ The same opening paragraph explains that OPM received funds from terrorist groups in Libya and China. The second paragraph notes that the organisation is traitorous. Indonesians would come away from this article with a very limited understanding of OPM or the enduring troubles in the restive province. In contrast, the English Wikipedia description of OPM, and even a separate Bahasa Wikipedia article on conflict in Papua in general, are far more balanced.

This article does not judge whether Hendropriyono or other former generals are worthy of wielding influence under Jokowi. Nor does it judge whether separatist movements are right or wrong. But as democracy develops in Indonesia, Indonesians are seeking balanced information on political affairs. Perhaps the Bahasa version of Wikipedia, as it grows, will see increasing debate between the lingering Suharto-era „black and white‰ versions of history and the newer, more realistic „shades of grey‰ view of history.

Warren Doull (a pseudonym) has lived and worked extensively in Indonesia and Timor Leste, including for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor in 2002. 


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3) Lake Sentani figures move new National Gallery of Australia boss Gerard Vaughan

National Arts Writer

THE fifth director of the National Gallery of Australia has barely got his feet under the desk and yet he doesn’t hesitate to name his favourite artwork from the national collection.
Former National Gallery of Victoria director Gerard Vaughan started on Monday in the ­nation’s most-scrutinised art-sector job, responsible for overseeing the $4.86 billion Canberra collection seen last year by 810,000 visitors.
“Even if I was just in and out to visit Ron (previous director Ron Radford), I could never leave this building without finding the Lake Sentani figures,” Vaughan said yesterday after his first press conference in his new role.
“I regard it as one of the finest works of art in this country.’’
The 19th-century wooden carving of a male and female from the central north coast of West Papua have been described as among the most significant surviving Pacific artworks.
In 1929, French Surrealist Jacques Viot dredged the sculpture from remote Lake Sentani, about 12km from the West Papua shoreline, where an old ceremonial house had collapsed.
The figures became well known to the Surrealists, were photographed by Man Ray and are thought to be the inspiration for Max Ernst’s 1935 Lunar ­Asparagussculpture. They were acquired for the national collection in 1974 by founding director James Mollison.
Vaughan intends to move the figures to a more prominent place where they might greet all visitors, just as the famous water wall engages visitors at the NGV, where he was director for almost 13 years until 2012.
“It’s deeply moving, very beautiful aesthetically but it does have a power and a presence,” he said.
Vaughan also quipped that on account of many historical documents pertaining to them, the figures also have indisputably sound provenance.
The 61-year-old has pledged to make the NGA more transparent and to embark on a provenance research project to address concerns about items in the NGA’s collection found to have been bought without sufficient due diligence.
Last month, Tony Abbott returned to India a Dancing Shiva bought for $5.6 million and found to have been stolen from a southern Indian temple.
Two dozen other items bought for $6m from the same dealer have been rendered worthless until their collecting history is checked.

Vaughan has signed a three-year contract but wants to see through Radford’s plan to build an Australian art wing, which would require another term.

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