Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1) Indonesia blamed for Papuan nationalism

2) GUEST BLOG: Maire Leadbetter – Jose Ramo-Horta cheerleader for Indonesia’s rule in West Papua - 

3) Papua: Pricking our national conscience

4) Full MSG membership for United Liberation Movement of West Papua justifiable: PM Sogavare 

5) PNG to Respect Indonesia’s Sovereignty over West Papua


1) Indonesia blamed for Papuan nationalism
20 minutes ago
A West Papuan theologian and activist says Papuan nationalist aspirations are a direct consequence of how the Indonesian state has treated his people.
Reverend Dr Benny Giay said West Papuans have never felt a part of Indonesian society, due to state policy towards them since the former dutch New Guinea was incorporated into the republic in the 1960s.

West Papuans demonstrate support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Photo: Tabloid Jubi
Thousands of West Papuans have recently participated in demonstrations in major cities of Indonesia's eastern region, in support of the United Liberation Movement.
Dr Giay said Papuans have always been treated as primitive and uncivilised by Jakarta and its policies have reflected that by systematically marginalising Papuans in their own land.
"So we Papuans feel that we are not part of Indonesian modern society," he explained.
"We have not been treated that way, and I think in the fifty years of interaction with Indonesians, that process gave birth to West Papuan nationalism."
Reverend Dr Benny Giay said that when he looks back over five decades under Indonesian rule, there's been no progress in the situation.
Dr Giay said that peaceful dialogue was the approach that should be taken to resolving issues in Papua.

2) GUEST BLOG: Maire Leadbetter – Jose Ramo-Horta cheerleader for Indonesia’s rule in West Papua - 
By   /   May 18, 2016

It would be hard to overstate the importance of the role that Jose Ramos Horta played during the long dark years when Timor Leste was occupied by Indonesia. As ‘foreign minister’ in exile he developed quite extraordinary advocacy and diplomatic skills that other liberation movements could only envy. 
It would be hard to overstate the importance of the role that Jose Ramos Horta played during the long dark years when Timor Leste was occupied by Indonesia. As ‘foreign minister’ in exile he developed quite extraordinary advocacy and diplomatic skills that other liberation movements could only envy. His international work with states and solidarity movements made a vital contribution to Timor Leste’s liberation in 1999.
Reflecting on this role I am saddened and bewildered that he has become an apologist for Indonesia’s repressive rule in West Papua. Back in his campaigning days Ramos Horta regularly rubbed shoulders with his West Papuan colleagues at international conferences and at the United Nations. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 he said in his acceptance speech that the Timorese were not alone in seeking self-determination but struggled alongside millions of others including the people of West Papua.

However , since he has become an establishment figure, Ramos-Horta has been telling the West Papuans to moderate their demands and to settle for autonomy rather than independence. This month he took things even further by visiting the territory as the guest of the Indonesian Security Affairs Minister Luhut Panjaitan. Afterwards he pronounced that the human rights situation was improving and Indonesia could solve any remaining problems without outside help.
Did he see anything of the spectacularly large peaceful demonstrations that were taking place while he was there? On 2 May as many as 2000 young Papuan activists were arrested across the country – the largest mass arrest in West Papua’s history. In Jayapura those detained were hoarded into an open police compound and held stripped to the waist in searing temperatures. Journalists were barred from covering the events and one was detained. Ramos-Horta could have sought out the human rights defenders and Church leaders who went to monitor the police actions and call for the release of the young people. They would have explained that the entirely peaceful demonstrations were held to show support for international initiatives including an important meeting of Melanesian leaders in Vanuatu and a London meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua.
Perhaps Jakarta was keen to recruit Jose Ramos-Horta to its support team to help counteract the tidal wave of support for West Papua sweeping across the Pacific. Jakarta’s nightmare is that the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) will elevate the West Papuan umbrella group United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) from observer to full member status as the Prime Ministers of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu now propose. To stave this off Minister Panjaitan has been strenuously lobbying in Suva and Port Moresby. A generous cheque for cyclone relief seemed to impress Fiji’s Prime Minister Bainimarama. Panjaitan’s initiatives have not gone down well with grassroots Pacific movements which are expanding day by day. Tongan Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva took part in the well-attended London meeting for parliamentarians.

West Papuan Church leaders, like Reverend Socratez Yoman who is currently touring Aotearoa, says nothing will stop the momentum of the movement now that the ULMWP has been recognised by the MSG. Unrestrained migration has tipped the demographic balance in favour of the newcomers and resource exploitation is stripping away life-giving lands and forests. The people are determined not to stay silent any longer in the face of what they see as a ‘slow genocide’.
Since his country’s liberation Jose Ramos-Horta has held high office as Prime Minister and President of his country as well as serving as a UN envoy in Guinea-Bissau, but he cannot have forgotten everything his learned during his long exile. Does he think about the brave actions of young activists in pre-liberation Timor-Leste? Timorese took to the streets whenever there was a chance they could get their message out into the international media, just as the West Papuans do now. Sometimes the results were lethal – 271 young demonstrators were massacred in 1991 at the Santa Cruz cemetery. Today in Timor Leste the young martyrs of this non-violent struggle are rightly honoured – they sparked a new wave of international solidarity and paved the way for change.

What is more Jose Ramos-Horta knows what it is to be shunned and sidelined and to refuse to give up. In 1978 he was invited to tour New Zealand but the Muldoon Government was reluctant to give him a visa. He did not tour that year but the debate generated by the attempt to turn him away gave the cause unprecedented publicity. A ‘Let Horta Speak’ campaign grabbed the headlines and journalists sought out this controversial spokesperson for phone interviews. Two decades later a New Zealand foreign minister finally agreed to meet him.
Defending his changed stance Ramos-Horta says that Indonesian rule over West Papua can be justified by the fact that the territory was once ruled by the Dutch as part the Dutch East Indies, forerunner of modern Indonesia. Timor-Leste was a Portuguese territory prior to the 1975 Indonesian invasion. The West Papuans remind us that they were on their way to independence as part of the Pacific family when a new colonisation was forced on them. Indonesian rule came about as a result of 1962 negotiations between the Netherlands and Indonesia brokered by the United States. The Papuan people were not consulted. Yes, the UN, to its shame, acknowledged a fraudulent self-determination process which took place in 1969. But it is clear from eye-witness reports and declassified documents that the “Act of Free Choice’ was a manipulated ‘Act of No Choice. There were only 1022 press-ganged participants out of a population of a million – they were sequestered away from their communities before the vote and threatened with violence if they did not make the right choice.
Jose Ramos-Horta was once a beacon of hope to oppressed people around the world. Now he is on a different path and it seems to me like a wrong turning.
Maire Leadbeater is a Former East Timor and current West Papua solidarity activist


3) Papua: Pricking our national conscience

Veronica Koman Jakarta | Wed, May 18 2016 | 07:21 am
When outsiders think of Papua, it may be to puzzle over why protests there seem never-ending. They may assume the main frustrations of Papuans stem from poverty and lack of development. 

That is true to some degree. However, the main reason is simpler and neatly illustrated by comparing two figures: In early May, 2,109 Papuan independence protesters were arrested by police – and that number is more than double the 1,025 who were press-ganged into legitimizing Indonesia’s rule of Papua through the 1969 “Act of Free Choice”. 

Despite our embassy in the UK denying in The Guardian that the arrests took place, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute documented them all, and holds the names of every one of the 2,109 demonstrators. Compare the figure with the 1,025 who cast ballots in what Papuans refer to as the “Act of No Choice”, out of an estimated population of 800,000 at that time.

This is the historical reality that underpins today’s grievances about state violence, environmental degradation and suppression of free speech in Papua. Until it is addressed, the protests will continue and the numbers will continue to add up. As of May the figure stands at 2,282 peaceful demonstrators detained by police, according to the institute’s records. 

International attention to this ongoing historical injustice is not going away either. Last week Papuans took to the streets en masse to support the United Liberation Movement for West Papua ( ULMWP ) and its bid for admission as a full member of the regional intergovernmental organization, the Melanesian Spearhead Group ( MSG ). They also wanted to send a message of support to the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, due to meet the following day in London. 

At that meeting, over 100 parliamentarians and lawyers from a score of countries announced the Westminster Declaration, rejecting the 1969 “Act of Free Choice” as a gross violation of the right to self-determination, and calling for an internationally supervised vote in Papua. Besides attendees from our neighbors Papua New Guinea and Australia, representatives came from several Pacific nations, France, the US, Sweden, New Zealand, Finland, Czech, the Netherlands and perhaps most notably British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who declared his support for “the right of people to be able to make their own choice on their own future”.

I am not one of the purported millions of non-Papuan Indonesians hurt by Corbyn’s declaration, according to “An open letter to Jeremy Corbyn from Indonesia” published by the UK edition of The Huffington Post recently. In fact, many of my fellow Indonesians share my concern, and take action through solidarity organizations such as Papua Itu Kita ( Papua is us ). 

As an Indonesian, let me tell you why we’re upset by what’s going on in Papua. Freedom of expression is being systematically suppressed. Proud of our national anthem, we’re sickened to learn that police tarnished it when they kicked and beat six peaceful protestors who refused to sing it while under arrest on April 12 in Papua’s Yahukimo district police station. We’re worried for a young Timika man, Steven Itlay who faces a possible life sentence for treason after leading a mass prayer in a churchyard last month in support of the ULMWP. 

We’re angry that two people were arrested on April 25 when they were delivering a notification letter about the upcoming demonstrations to Merauke police near the border with Papua New Guinea. Likewise about the 41 people arrested in the Papuan capital of Jayapura on May 1 for distributing leaflets calling for peaceful demonstration. The list goes on.

As long as violence, unlawful arrests, and long prison terms for “treason” are used to suppress freedom of expression in Papua, the argument made by the Indonesian Embassy in Australia ( The Jakarta Post, May 9 ) that Papuans benefit from Indonesian democracy will fall flat. Whether or not one supports independence for Papua, the right to freedom of expression, guaranteed under the Constitution, must be upheld. 

Freedom of the press is another cornerstone of democracy under threat when it comes to Papua. Local journalists have faced harassment and violence, and Papua was mostly off-limits to the foreign media until President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo promised easy access in May 2015. Foreign journalists are nevertheless still being refused visas, or face long screening delays, restrictions on locations and being chaperoned by intelligence agents while in Papua. One London-based journalist recently had to wait 18 months to be granted a visa. 

In October last year Johnny Blades and Koroi Hawkins of Radio New Zealand faced the absurd demand that they provide six recommendation letters from contacts in Papua. France 24 TV correspondent Cyril Payen’s documentary on Papua last year so angered the government that his application to visit again was refused in January.

When journalists do visit, their interviewees can face intimidation, as with three Papuan activists led by Agus Kossay, arrested by police after they met with French journalist Marie Dhumieres last October. The year before, Martinus Yohame was kidnapped and later found dumped in the sea in a sack with his hands and feet tied, tortured and murdered after meeting French Arte Television journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat.

Over recent years, international development organizations have been forced out of Papua, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid, and Peace Brigades International. Oxfam UK was ordered out last December, even after Jokowi’s declaration of openness.

The ULMWP is the umbrella for many organizations across Papua and has a legitimate political and cultural mandate to represent the Papuan people. The organization holds observer status, and the Indonesian government holds associate member status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group. If the government undermines and criminalizes the ULMWP, it disrespects the MSG as a diplomatic forum. 

If however the government is seriously committed to the MSG, it should take up the MSG’s offer to mediate a peaceful dialogue between the government and ULMWP.

President Jokowi has claimed there are no problems in Papua. Yet his actions said otherwise last week when he sent a barrage of government figures to do damage control in London: deputy speaker Fadli Zon, coordinating minister of politics Luhut Pandjaitan, and national counter-terrorism agency head Tito Karnavian all tried to damp down talk about Papua’s problems while in the UK. Last month Luhut also went to Fiji and PNG to discuss Papua.

Sending these senior figures overseas on a face-saving mission, and sending proxies such as former East Timor president José Ramos-Horta to Papua is simply avoiding the root of the problem. 

Last century, former foreign minister Ali Alatas described East Timor as a “pebble in the shoe” for our nation’s diplomacy. Papua will continue to be a thorn in our side until we finally listen deeply and engage in dialogue about Papuan aspirations, including self-determination.

The writer is a public interest lawyer at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute ( LBH Jakarta ) and a participant in the Papua Itu Kita ( Papua is Us ) movement.

Published On:May 17, 2016
4) Full MSG membership for United Liberation Movement of West Papua justifiable: PM Sogavare 

Granting of full membership status to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMP) in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is justifiable as Indonesia had sought membership of the regional bloc to only protect its own interest other than engage in dialogue about the serious human rights issues in West Papua.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare reiterated this at a press conference in Honiara Monday upon returning from Vanuatu where he had the opportunity to meet with his Vanuatu counterpart Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and a delegation of leaders from the United Liberation Front for West Papua (ULMWP) at the sidelines of the 2023 Pacific Games Bid presentation.

One of the issues discussed in the meeting between the two Melanesian Prime Ministers is motion to be tabled by Prime Minister Salwai at the upcoming MSG Leaders’ summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea for granting of full MSG membership to ULMWP for which Prime Minister Sogavare registered his full support.

In the meeting between Prime Minister Sogavare and the ULMWP delegation, the latter party presented a two-point petition for consideration by the MSG Chair for discussion at the upcoming leaders’ summit and these are the elevation of ULMWP’s membership of the MSG and a request to the United Nations for intervention in West Papua to neutralise the ever increasing rate of genocide there.

Sogavare told the Press Conference that Indonesia’s apparent rejection of the resolution reached by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders in Port Moresby in 2015 for the deployment of a fact-finding mission in West Papua as well as the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet with him in his capacity as the MSG Chair to explain the position of the MSG on the issue of West Papua are very strong grounds for elevating the status of ULMP to full membership.

“Indonesia leaves the MSG no alternatives on bringing the West Papuan issues on the table for discussion, except to elevate the status of West Papua from Observer status to full membership, so that the MSG Leaders can be able to discuss the West Papuan issues more strategically,” he said.

Prime Minister Sogavare is adamant that Indonesia will continue to downplay West Papua human rights issues until a possible United Nations Resolution on West Papua is achieved in the future.

He said as Chair, the MSG will take aboard such matters as priority issues to address.

The Prime Minister said fresh accounts of on-going human rights violations in West Papua are continuing to emerge, however the Indonesian President’s refusal to meet him in Jakarta to convey the MSG’s position on West Papua is a clear indication that Indonesia has other reasons for joining MSG other than discussing West Papua human rights issues.

He said the Indonesian President’s noncommittal attitude warrants the MSG to take the matter up to the next notch-United Nations for intervention.

Prime Minister Sogavare said he is aware that said since the ULMWP was granted an Observer status of the MSG in 2015, the situation in West Papua became tenser, leaving the indigenous people now at the brink of extinction.

Last week, while in Port Vila, Prime Minister Sogavare said Indonesia’s refusal of his request for dialogue gives him all the reason to take this matter back to the MSG, adding that ‘Indonesia has crossed the line so we need to take some tough stance.”.



5) PNG to Respect Indonesia’s Sovereignty over West Papua

14 May 2016 

The country’s permanent representative to the United Nations Assembly Ambassador Max Rai said.
Speaking to Loop PNG in an interview, he said PNG who share a land boundary with Indonesia have always maintained a peacefully relationship since gaining independence.
“Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Bali some years ago stated that the issue of sovereignty is not questionable. We recognize West Papua as part of Indonesia’s sovereign territory. I will closely work with the Indonesian delegation in UN to ensure that the West Papua issues are address adequately as far as human rights are concerned,” Ambassador Rai said.
PNG’s foreign minister, Rimbink Pato said to Radio New Zealand International on last month, PNG’s position is and has always been that the province of Irian Jaya (the old name of Papua region) is an integral part of the sovereign nation of Indonesia.

“So we’re not interested in entertaining the issue of self-determination, because that’s never an issue for us, and that’s never a concern for us. And we’ve made it very, very clear, it’s in the heart of our bilateral relationship with Indonesia, and of course the issue of human rights in West Papua and Papua provinces and some of the other Melanesian provinces of Indonesia, “ Pato said.
He added it’s a matter in respect of which the Pacific Island leaders Forum in Port Moresby passed a resolution last year. He told Radio New Zealand International that PNG’s prime minister has written to President Widodo and informed him of the resolution of the Pacific Island leaders.
“And there will probably be a response to it. But that is not an issue that has to do with any call for self-determination,” Pato added. (Victor Mambor)

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