Monday, October 26, 2015

1) Indigenous groups kept out of discussions on controversial contract extension

2) Indonesian writers festival withdraws 1965 massacre programs under government pressure
3) Editorial: Back to dark  days

Papuans upset over lack of input on Indonesian mining deal
1) Indigenous groups kept out of discussions on controversial contract extension
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • October 26, 2015

Government leaders and activists in Indonesia's Papua province said talks on extending the contract of the U.S.-based PT Freeport McMoRan mining company ignored input from the local community.
Executives of the company, which has operated in Papua since the 1960s, met Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Oct. 26, with the president expected to sign the extension while visiting the United States later in the week.
The company's gold and copper mining operations are Indonesia's largest revenue generator.
Papuan leaders said local people were kept out of mine negotiations, while the government also ignored the negative environmental impact mining has had on the region.
Lamadi de Lamato, spokesman for Papuan Gov. Lukas Enembe, told on Oct. 23 that the provincial government was also kept out of mine discussions.
"We're so confused. Freeport actually is in Papua, but we were not invited to speak on this renewal plan. Our voice barely received attention," he said.
Father Neles Tebay, coordinator of the Papuan Peace Network, called for the contract to be suspended, due to the fact that local residents were not involved in the negotiations. 
"People in Papua, which has rights to the land, are not involved. Papuans, especially the Amugme tribe … feel that they are treated unfairly," he said.
Father Tebay said Papuans might support the mine if Freeport would reinvest in the local community.
"Papuans are still poor and PT Freeport seeks economic gain. They need a plan that provides economic benefits to Papua," he said.
Meanwhile, Victor Yeimo of the West Papua National Committee says there should be no contract extension.
"The people of Papua have long swallowed the bitter pill of this company's presence," he said.
"Trillions in money has been taken out, however the people of the area are destitute. Residents who scavenge for gold waste are shot," he said.
Father John Djonga, an activist priest, called on Widodo to stand up to the mining company and protect the rights of the indigenous communities.
"Do not let Freeport govern the country," he said.
Widodo's chief of staff Teten Masduki indicated in a recent statement that the extension would be approved; the Indonesian national budget depended on revenues from the Freeport deal, he said in a report aired by CNN Indonesia.
Freeport also was seeking to expand its copper operations by building a second US$2 billion copper smelting facility.
Abednego Tarigan, executive director of the Indonesia Forum for the Environment, in a July 29 Jakarta Post op-ed said the environmental damage caused by the mining company "should be addressed before any decision to extend Freeport's contract is considered."
"The Indonesian government always bows to pressure in matters of environmental responsibility," Tarigan said.

2) Indonesian writers festival withdraws 1965 massacre programs under government pressure
Eleanor Hall reported this story on Monday, October 26, 2015 12:40:48

ELEANOR HALL: Heading now to Indonesia where the organisers of the International Ubud Writers festival have confirmed they've buckled to censorship pressures and withdrawn three programs on the 1965 massacres.

One Australian participant says he still expects his panel discussing the first year of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to go ahead.

But he also says that while the censorship directive may not have come directly from the President, it is an indication of his closer alliance with the Indonesian military.

Dr Ross Tapsell from the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific spoke to me a short time ago.

Ross Tapsell the 1965 massacres are a sensitive issue in Indonesia, but are you surprised about the censorship over this at the Ubud Festival?

ROSS TAPSELL: Overall yes, I think this is very unexpected because it's Ubud and because it's an international festival, and because it's such high profile. I am surprised, having said that, there has been signs that this is because of the 50th year anniversary of the coup and the killings.

We have seen signs in regional areas where the police and others have cracked down on various attempts to publicise this period of history. For example in one case a student magazine tried to interview and tell stories of the massacre and it was actually withdrawn from circulation. 

ELEANOR HALL: Given the international profile as you say of this festival would this censorship at Ubud have to have been endorsed by the president?

ROSS TAPSELL: No, I don't think we can read so far into this. It's hard to say at the moment whether this was a national security forces telling Bali, look we don't want this to go ahead in this topic. It could be possible that, from Jakarta, they've said no this film is not to go ahead and therefore nothing on '65 is to go ahead on the massacres.

Or, what we've seen on other parts of Indonesia is, it really is just local authorities. And Bali was in fact one of the most brutal places where the killings occurred in 1965, so it is highly likely that there's people in positions of power in these local areas who had family members of themselves were connected to the killings. 

ELEANOR HALL: So if local authorities are doing this, what does it say about the authority of the president?

ROSS TAPSELL: Well it's a difficult situation, in particular in regards to the police and the military. The President, Joko Widodo, has had much difficulty in containing the police in his first year in power, largely due to their battle with the anti-corruption commission. And so what that has meant is that he has needed to ally himself more closely to the military.

And so the military is now trying to be more assertive I suppose in their controls on around decision making and their connections to power. 

ELEANOR HALL: Are there any signs of the military flexing its muscles in terms of censorship on any other issues?

ROSS TAPSELL: I'm not suggesting we're going back to Suhato's authoritarian regime or anything like that, but having said that, these kind of attempts to crack down on particular issues involving the military, such as their involvement in the killings in 1965, have meant that this is going to be a very difficult first few years for Jokowi's presidency. 

ELEANOR HALL: Do you fear there could be more censorship in Indonesia as the year progresses?

ROSS TAPSELL: Well at the moment, what we know about this current Jokowi govenrment is that anything is possible, particularly with regards to censorship. What we've seen in the past 12 months was Jokowi himself saying he wanted further crackdowns on people speaking aggressively about the president online. So there was a discussion about introducing a bill for that to get rid of say - to improve defamation laws.

There has also been issues on freedom of expression in Papua; in particular, Jokowi had said that he wants to have more foreign journalists allowed to enter Papua, and unfortunately what happened was the military stepped in and said, no, foreign journalists still need to apply to go to Papua so this is the classic case of the president wants to make reforms, and the military says actually no that's not going ahead. 

ELEANOR HALL: You're heading to Ubud tomorrow have you been assured your panels will still be going ahead?

ROSS TAPSELL: Yes I'm on a panel with Todung Mulya Lubis, who was the lawyer for the Bali Nine. I have not heard that that panel will change. Padong is currently talking to Jokowi's second, right hand man I guess you could call him Luhut Binsar Panjaitan about this issue, about the banning of the '65 panels and the film and he's presumably meeting him for a bunch of other reasons.

So I think that's going to be a very controversial and probably highly-packed panel that panel is on Jokowi year one an assessment of his first year. 

But as far as I know I'm on a plane tomorrow, Eleanor. 

ELEANOR HALL: Good luck with that Ross Tapsell. Thanks so much for joining us. 

ROSS TAPSELL: Thanks very much.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s Dr Ross Tapsell from the ANU who is also a participant at the Ubud Writers Festival.

3) Editorial: Back to dark  days
To prevent a rapid return to the fearful, censored and militaristic days of the New Order, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, after a year in office, can and must lay down the law. As recent developments show, the President has sent a clear indication of his views regarding freedom of expression, ending historical stigma, the battle against corruption, freedom from fear and the military’s non-defense role. 

On all these issues the President needs to loudly and swiftly declare a clear stance to boost the spirit of continuing reformasi that got him elected. 

Many understand his need to compromise with the sharks in the political sea. However, his silence over the recent deportation of a foreign national for visiting the grave of his slain ancestor, “restrictions” on a campus magazine and the forced cancellation of certain sessions at an international literary event in Bali — all related to the 1960s upheaval — show too much compromise and silence on the part of the President, coincidentally just before his departure for a US state visit. 

On Thursday human rights groups, press organizations and many individuals met with the National Human Rights Commission following the restriction on Lentera, a student magazine of the Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW) in Salatiga, from being sold outside the campus. According to the campus leadership, the action was taken because it “failed to follow procedures” and contained content that caused negative reactions. The restricted issue of Lentera had reported on the 1965 murders in the Central Java town, just one example of the increasing efforts to reveal our unresolved past: efforts mostly instigated by our curious and creative younger generation. 

Earlier on Oct. 16 a Swedish citizen, Tom Iljas, who was among the scores of children orphaned in the 1965 upheaval, was deported and blacklisted from returning to Indonesia after he attempted to visit the grave of his father, who was killed in his hometown in Pesisir Selatan regency, West Sumatra. 

Tom’s entourage was prevented from praying at the mass grave by the village head and they were reportedly then intimidated by a group of civilians and police. 

This is a complete setback as many former exiles who, like Tom, lost their citizenship while on scholarships to various countries in the 1960s, but have been free to visit Indonesia in the reformasi era. 

The 1965 issue is certainly sensitive and everyone claims to be a victim. But we must at least end the stigma and intimidation against anyone associated with the “wrong side” of ’65. 

Then ahead of next week’s annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival(UWRF) in Bali, organizers announced the cancelation of sessions related to 1965 — rather than have police cancel the entire festival — leading to widespread outcry and international embarrassment. 

Together with the “civilian defense program” launched on Thursday and the proposed presidential draft allowing the military to play an increased role in civilian affairs, we will likely see more examples of an increasingly bold old guard. 

The President needs to appease the influential groups around him, but not at the cost of turning reformasi on its head. By taking a stance of unequivocal intolerance of inhumane and undemocratic attitudes, Jokowi will see some resurgence of his dwindling support.

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