Monday, June 29, 2015

1) Anything less than defeat is a victory

2) Fiji, PNG lead betrayal, but still West Papuans triumph

3) Govt’ Forms Special Team for Papua Development  
 4) Papuan  shot dead for blocking  road  

5) Mairisi and Miere Tribes: We won’t sell our land


1) Anything less than defeat is a victory

Last week’s Solomonic decision by the Melanesian Spearhead Group to cut the baby in halfand boost the membership status of both the ULMWP and Indonesia is an example of the Melanesian political mind at work. Valuing collective peace over individual justice, group prosperity over individual advancement, and allowing unabashed self-interest to leaven the sincerity of the entire process, our leaders have placed their stamp on what just might be an indelible historical moment.
Last week marked the first time the indigenous people of West Papua were not entirely defeated. And that, in itself, is a victory.
Thousands gathered to celebrate in Timika and elsewhere in the western half of the island of Papua. Praise for Manasseh Sogavare’s depiction of the decision as a ‘test’ of Melanesia’s respect for human rights was widespread. Domestically, his role in the decision seems to have bolstered his standing as a statesman and leader. 
But a more dry-eyed look at the process reveals a cost that will undoubtedly prove quite high for proponents of West Papuan independence. David Robie’s depiction of Papua New Guinea and Fiji’s stance on the issue as a ‘betrayal’ is starker than many others, but it’s not wrong. 
Voreqe Bainimarama’s disingenuous insistence that Indonesia’s territorial integrity cannot be challenged begs the question of the legitimacy of Indonesia’s continuing occupation—one which, notably, the UN has still to answer. Likewise, Peter O’Neill’s insistence on ‘mandated’ representation for the Melanesian peoples of West Papua would be laughable if it weren’t so callous. The whole reason that the people of West Papua are seeking legitimacy through the MSG is because they are disenfranchised at home. 
Sato Kilman took advantage of the clouded complexion of the domestic political scene to keep his proverbial head down, sending only a senior administrator to the Honiara summit. In fairness to him, from a tactical perspective he really had no choice. From a strategic perspective, his handling of the issue could only leave him weakened. Social media commentary in the Solomons was particularly unkind, portraying Vanuatu’s PM as lacking the nouse to stand with Mr Sogavare, letting down West Papua ‘at its hour of greatest need.’
Indonesia’s victory, especially here in Vanuatu, has clearly been sullied by the persistence of the issue, and by its ability to galvanise Melanesian public opinion regardless of political affiliation. Even those closest to Mr Kilman were forced into ‘softly-softly’ rhetoric, claiming ardent-but-pragmatic support for the people of West Papua. 
In practical terms, raising Indonesia to associate member status—above that of the ULMWP—goes a long way to ensuring that the MSG will remain inert in the face of pressure to take a stand on independence. In moral terms, the extent of the ULMWP’s victory should not be underestimated.
West Papua is certain to become a core platform item in Vanuatu’s 2016 election campaign.
Merely by playing a part in the conversation, they have mobilised hundreds of thousands of sympathisers at home and throughout the region. Support for independence is undoubtedly stronger and more uncompromising in Solomon Islands now, and it’s becoming more and more overt in the Papuan provinces as well. West Papua Media released a photo recently, apparently showing thousands of people in Timika celebrating the ULMWP’s ascendancy last Friday.
And, in a pattern that we’ve seen again and again, increasing oppression seems to be offering diminishing returns for Indonesia. In spite of the military’s desire to undercut Joko Widodo’s efforts to enact at least modest reforms, repressive tactics have not stopped the ever-increasing flow of coverage coming from the afflicted area. Informal and traditional media sources reported hundreds of arrests in the run-up to the vote, but that did not prevent the ULMWP from gathering what they claimed were 150,000 signatures on a petition legitimising their status as representatives. Nor did it prevent spontaneous scenes of jubilation when their membership was announced. 
Equally important, Indonesia was not able to achieve an unalloyed victory in Vanuatu. In order to succeed, they needed to demonstrate that the cost of support for West Papua was losing office. While they did succeed in hamstringing one of the strongest proponents of West Papuan independence at a critical moment, the resulting furore has made the issue of independence into a political litmus test. No politician would now dare to declare anything short of unalloyed support for independence. West Papua is certain to become a core platform item in Vanuatu’s 2016 election campaign.
Arguably, West Papua is reaching a point in its political history similar to that of Black America in the years leading up to the march in Selma. Increasingly overt and untenable state violence is working against itself now. Indonesia can no longer avoid a painful but necessary confrontation with its own behaviour. 
It may yet be years before a peaceful and practical resolution is even possible, let alone within our collective grasp. But Doctor King famously claimed that the arc of history bends toward justice. And here is evidence that it does.
For the indigenous peoples of West Papua, defeat is now unthinkable. And anything else, no matter how small, can only be victory.
Dan McGarry is chief technologist at the Pacific Insititute of Public Policy. He has worked in the Pacific for over a decade now, assisting in numerous capacities in the development of ICTs in Vanuatu and the Pacific. He has extensive experience in technology policy formulation and implementation as well as in traditional and new media. He still writes software.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

2) Fiji, PNG lead betrayal, but still West Papuans triumph

COMMENT By David Robie

THE Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders’ summit in Honiara this week must go down as the most shameful since the organisation was founded two decades ago.

It had the opportunity to take a fully principled stand on behalf of the West Papuan people, brutally oppressed by Indonesia after an arguably “illegal” occupation for more than a half century. 

Host nation Solomon Islands Prime Minister and chair Mannaseh Sogareve set the tone by making an impassioned plea at the start of the summit, predicting a “test” for the MSG. He said it would be an issue of human rights and the rule of law.

In the end, the MSG failed the test with a betrayal of the people of West Papua by the two largest members. Although ultimately it is a decision by consensus.

Instead, the MSG granted Indonesia a “promotion” to associate member status – an Asian country, not even Melanesian?

And the recently formed United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), which had been forced to jump through many hoops over the past year or so provide a united “one voice” Papuan  front, was given observer status as a “development partner” for overseas Papuans – the same level occupied by Jakarta since 2011 until its elevation.

Political bribery was at stake. Lucrative aid promises from Jakarta trumped blood ties between Melanesians.

Brave face
Most media and some commentators see this as a huge achievement by the West Papua lobby movement, and even the ULMWP is putting a brave face on it.

A statement circulated by the Free West Papua Campaign has praised the MSG decision as “making history” with political recognition – but at what price?

“After 53 years of political struggle for the right to self-determination, the ULMWP representing West Papuans, was today granted observer status,” said the statement.

Thanking the Melanesian leaders, ULMWP secretary-general Octovianus Mote said: “We applied for full membership at the instruction of MSG leaders in 2013 and 2014. Despite not getting full membership [then], we welcome the decision of the leaders as it is our first step to full political recognition.” 

Mote added that it was a welcome first step, and the struggle wouldn't end there.

But the truth is the West Papuans have been betrayed, especially by the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Fiji leader Voreqe Bainimarama. For the Fiji and PNG delegations, Indonesian-funded aid is more important than human rights for their Melanesian brothers.
The West Papuans should have been granted full membership now. 

But at least the Melanesian nations are actually trying to engage with Indonesia over West Papua, so much better than the wimpish Australian and New Zealand approach.
The Solomon Islands had declared support for a compromise of observer status before the summit began while both Vanuatu and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) of New Caledonia both supported full membership.

The ULMWP had hoped to follow the FLNKS precedent in obtaining full MSG membership without being a sovereign government. 

West Papuan petition
More than 150,000 West Papuans signed a petition supporting MSG membership and an under-cover Dutch journalist visiting the region shortly before the MSG summit reported overwhelming support for the ULMWP cause in spite of a crackdown by security forces.

Perhaps the wisest message made during the week was by former Solomon Islands Prime Minister Ezekiel Alebua who described the involvement of Indonesia in Melanesian political space as a mistake.

In an interview with Joey Tau of the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), who was media adviser for the ULMWP camp, Alebua declared that the founding fathers of the MSG founded the bloc on the values of promoting Melanesian common interests such as heritage, culture and traditions of peace and harmony.

“With due respect to the current Melanesian leaders, we have a new wave of leaders in this region who are more interested in trade and commerce, and give very little attention to our true Melanesian recognition,” he said.

“There are economic interests with Indonesia, but our fellow Melanesians are being abused and tortured, and we must act morally.” 

One of the great mysteries of all the hype is about “five Melanesian provinces” in Indonesia. This is patently misleading, there are only two: Papua and West Papua. Previously there was one, but it was split into two to make it easier to divide and rule.

While the other three provinces, Maluku, North Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara, may have Melanesian minorities, they cannot be genuinely characterised as Papuan.

Face value
Why were journalists in Honiara not challenging such statements?

Defending the MSG decision,  Bainimarama said: "Fiji believes we are acting in the best interests of the people in West Papua.” 

He added: “For our part, Fiji has been guided by a number of overriding principles in approaching the West Papua issue. The first and foremost of these is that Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua cannot be questioned. The province[s are] an integral part of Indonesia.”

Bainimarama even commended President Joko Widodo for the “steps they are taking to improve conditions in West Papua for its Melanesian population”.

Frankly, it seems that Bainimarama and O’Neill and their advisers have been either conned or seduced by the promises of development aid from Jakarta.

The sovereignty argument is a false one. The so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969 was a fraud.

Timor-Leste was invaded illegally by Indonesia in 1975 and for the next 24 years, Jakarta argued the territory was "Indonesian sovereignty”. But Timor independence was restored in 2002. 

‘Untrue statements’
Andrew Johnson, a 20-year veteran with the Australia West Papua Association, specialising in historical research and analysis, has taken issue with “untrue statements” in the Fijian and Indonesian “spin” at the MSG summit. 

Writing in Pacific Scoop, he noted that:
The Indonesian delegate has claimed that the United Nations has made a resolution granting Indonesia sovereignty over West Papua, “Kita harus tahu, resolusi PBB telah mengakui Papua Barat adalah bagian dari Indonesia.”

And Fiji’s Prime Minister is telling the MSG gathering that “Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua cannot be questioned. The province is an integral part of Indonesia.”

But neither of those statements are true.

I wrote a draft UN General Assembly resolution that the Vanuatu Parliament wanted to tender five years ago asking that the International Court of Justice be allowed to give its advice whether West Papua is legally part of Indonesia or is a non-self-governing territory. 

As it happens, I also believe West Papua is a UN Trust Territory due to Indonesia asking and the UN General Assembly putting UN Charter article 85 part 1 into effect when it made General Assembly Resolution 1752; the result of which would mean that New Zealand and other UN members are legally required to promote West Papua towards independence under article 76 of the Charter.

Whether I am correct, or the Fijian PM is correct, is a matter that only the International Court of Justice (ICJ) can answer.

The MSG has raised the issue of the sovereignty of West Papua, and I think it is long overdue that our governments asked the ICJ to answer the question whether West Papua is a UN trust territory or not.


MONDAY, 29 JUNE, 2015 | 16:14 WIB
3) Govt’ Forms Special Team for Papua Development  

TEMPO.COJakarta - The government has formed a special team, called the Natural Resources Assessment Team for Economic Development in Papua, to integrate policies made by natural resource companies in Papua with government's plans to develop the eastern part of the country.
The team is chaired by National Development Planning Minister Andrinof Chaniago who will lead members that consist of nine ministers of the Working Cabinet, the General Attorney, the head of Investment Coordinating Board, the governor of Papua, the governor of West Papua, and Presidential Staff Office's deputy for monitoring and evaluation.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said explained that the special team will draft blue prints of a number of policies related to development in Papua.
"The team's review will result in comprehensive evaluations from economic, social, cultural, legal and environmental aspects," Sudirman said after attending the team's first meeting on Monday, June 29, 2015.
Sudirman revealed that the team would become a forum to discuss contracts related to mineral resources management in Papua and the government's development plans for industrial area in Teluk Bintuni, West papua.
"Each ministry will propose programs, while the National Development Ministry will assess them," Sudirman said.
After the meeting, Sudirman said, the team will form a technical team with members that can be recruited from non-governmental institutions. Andrinof said that the team will submit evaluation reports and reviews on natural resources management in Papua to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
"The team will serve until December 31, 2015," Andrinof added.

 4) Papuan  shot dead for blocking  road  
The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Archipelago | Mon, June 29 2015, 8:44 AM -
Manase Agapa, 22, a resident of Ugapuga village, East Kamu district, Dogiai regency, Papua, has been shot dead by an unidentified man while participating in a blockade of Jl. Nabire-Paniai.

Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Patrige Renwarin confirmed on Saturday that Menase had been shot while blockading the road with his friends on Thursday. “Menase and his friends blocked the roads and stopped cars passing toward Nabire,” Patrige was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.

Manase and his friends were reportedly asking for money from the passing cars. 

One of the cars’ drivers refused to give money and, instead, shot the man in the hand and torso. Police deployed officers to the crime scene where they found a projectile and a bullet. However, the identity of the gunman is still unknown.

5) Mairisi and Miere Tribes: We won’t sell our land

In mid-April 2015, the Wondama Bay Regency government and the Environment Management Board gathered community representatives from the Mairasi, Miere and Wamesa tribes, who live in villages around Naikere, Kuriwamesa and Rasiei (all in Wondama Bay Regency) for a meeting in the Rasiei District Office meeting room.
From the meeting’s outset, the community didn’t particularly like the issue being discussed, which was a public consultation on PT Menara Wasior’s plans for an oil palm plantation. Representatives and consultants from the company were also present.
Whispers went around the room when a consultant for the company started to speak. During the question and answer session, the community let loose all their criticisms and anger towards all corporate activity in the Wasior area, ranging from the building of government offices when the matter of compensation is yet to be settled, timber exploitation which brings no community benefits, the flooding disaster which terrified local people1 and the history of past violence and human rights abuses which have left the community traumatised.
The majority of local people present did not agree and opposed the company’s plans, “We don’t agree with the company, even though there have been three or four meetings like this, we still don’t agree. We remember the impact, we remember the environmental impact on people’s livelihoods and on this promised land, we don’t want it, full stop”, said a resident of Rasiei, and other participants echoed this by saying “Amen”.
Informal meetings have been organised several times by the company, facilitated by local government officials and certain indigenous community figures. The community continues to express its opposition, but the company still perseveres in its attempts to get the community to agree to let it manage the land. There are also several community members who support the plan and hope to get some benefit from the company.
Community leaders from the Mairasi and Miere tribes fundamentaly oppose PT Menara Wasior coming and working to their ancestral land. On 12th April 2015, they prepared a statement asking the local government to revoke the company’s permit, giving the following reasons (1) We won’t sell our land for large scale plantations, (2) The land and forest is our source of livelihood, (2) The land and forest is our inheritance, handed down from our ancestors to their grandchildren, (4) The land and forest are our mother; (5) From the experience of companies that have been around previously, there are no positive impacts for the community which owns the land and forest.
“We’re asking the Government of Indonesia to take the people’s statement seriously”, said Konstan Natama, an indigenous community figure from Mairasi and supporter of the statement.
PUSAKA in Jakarta has sent a letter of complaint about this issue to the Environment and Forestry Minister (26/6/2015) and has met the head of the Secretariat for Complaints Concerning Environment and Forestry Cases, Kemal, who told us that he would promptly send a letter to the head of the complaints team. Pusaka’s complaint letter can be read in Indonesian here.

About PT Menara Wasior

There is not much information available about the oil palm plantation company PT Menara Wasior. One known address for the company is Jalan Sukamulya Nomor 179, Peta Lingkar Selatan, Bandung, Jawa Barat, telephone number 022 6030855. This is also the address of PT Rimbun Menara Indonesia, a contractor company with operations in Fakfak, West Papua Province. This company is believed to be linked to another oil palm company PT Rimbun Sawit Papua, and it is thought that these two companies were controlled by a businessman name Jef Setiawan Winata.
It may well be that PT Menara Wasior also belongs to Jef Setiawan Winata, who is also the owner of the Hotel Grand Papua in Fakfak. In 2014, Jef Setiawan Winata was examined by the Papua public prosecutor’s office in relation to a corruption case concerning the use of state funds to buy cattle where 130 billion Rupiah of the budget was misused out of a total 280 billion Rupiah.
PT Rimbun Sawit Papua is believed to have sold its shares to the Salim Group (Indofoods), leading to speculation that PT Menara Wasior might also have some connection to the Salim Group which be using Jef Winata as an agent to obtain permits and land. On the ground, the community has heard that workers and consultants for PT Menara Wasior have experience with Salim Group companies.
PT Menara Wasior has obtained an in-principle permit from the Bupati of Wondama Bay, location permit number 1/2014, and also a Plantation Permit (Number 525/25/BU-TW/V/2014). The forestry ministry has also issued document S.466/Menhut-II/214, dated 29 September 2014, which was an in-principle to release state forest land currently classified as production forest available for conversion into an 28,880 hectare oil palm plantation, located around the Wosimi watershed, Naikere and Kuriwamesa Districts, Wondama Bay Regency, West Papua Province.
[awasMIFEE note: It should be clear from the last paragraphs that the ownership of PT Menara Wasior is still speculation. However there are several pointers to a link with the Salim Group – another business address listed by the company in Jalan Ahmad Yani in Jakarta is also home to Salim Group company PT Kayu Lapis Asli Murni (Kalamar). The Salim Group has the second largest planted area of any private company in Indonesia, over 300,000 hectares]
  1. hundreds of people were killed in a flash flood in 2010 
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