Saturday, May 28, 2016

1) West Papuan leader appeals for support in freedom struggle

2) Difficult Times For MSG But Future Looks Secure Still

3) Airport in Papua to pay for use of customary land 
4) Press release from legal team for the collision which killed Robert Jitmau
1) West Papuan leader appeals for support in freedom struggle
Saturday, May 28, 2016

                                    Benny Wenda addressing public forum in Sydney. May 24.
West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda has been touring Australia, spreading awareness of the West Papuan struggle for freedom from Indonesian rule.
The tour of Wenda, the spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, comes ahead of a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in Port Moresby, where an application for full membership to the group for the ULMWP will be considered.
Wenda spoke at a public meeting organised by Green Left Weekly in Sydney on May 24. He told the meeting: “Australia is a very close neighbour [but] nobody knows what [is] really happening, what [is] really going on. 
“My trip is about breaking silence.
“People of West Papua cry for justice, for their environment, for their nature, for their human rights for 50 years … This fight to preserve our culture, our identity, who we are, our nature, our forest, our mountain.”
West Papua had been a Dutch colony from the 19th century until occupied by Indonesia in 1963. The territory was formally incorporated into Indonesia in the 1969 Act of Free Choice — a referendum in which only 1026 hand-picked people were allowed to vote.
Wenda told the audience about his personal awakening to the brutality of the Indonesian occupation. When he was a young boy, he watched as Indonesian soldiers raped and beat his mother and two aunts, aged 14 and 16. Wenda's aunts died from the trauma of the attack. 
“I couldn't do anything at the time, just cry for my mum and my aunties … So that my sentiment [growing up was] to fight this. I don't want another girl to be raped,” said Wenda.
Rapes and random beatings were not the only abuses Wenda witnessed. “In 1999, my people chose me to become a tribal leader, and then I see it around me: Indonesian military logging. Logging is big business in West Papua, run by the Indonesian intelligence and military, not ordinary people.”
Wenda said people who try to protect their land against destructive logging and mining operations are labelled separatists. “You cannot defend your land, your forest … everything is run by Indonesian military, not the government.
“We know that Indonesia now calls itself a democratic country. But I don't know, maybe in other part of Indonesia ... West Papua is a militarised zone. They see West Papua as a colony so they can do whatever they like.”
Wenda said West Papua's forests are important in the fight against climate change. “We need to preserve all those forests [that] can protect this environment.”
Wenda singled out the Australian government's role in the occupation of West Papua, noting: “My uncle Mako Tabuni was killed by Detachment 88, trained by Australia.” 
Tabuni was a leader of the National Committee for West Papua. Detachment 88 is an Indonesian counter-terrorism police unit funded by Australia and the United States. 
“Our right to be free people [is] taken away by big power, supported by big powers like Australian government, Britain, America and European countries,” said Wenda.
Wenda celebrated a recent win for West Papua. At a meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in London on May 3, British Labour Party leader and IPWP co-founder Jeremy Corbyn said: “I want these issues to become central to our party's policies in the future and above all I want to see an end to environmental degradation and destruction and the right of people to be able to make their own choice on their own future.” 
Wenda said: “Now we are calling on the international community to provide a vote. This is the highest agenda we are pushing. 
“The root problem is what happened in 1969. The fact that [Corbyn] said this [should be] adopted as policy, that's great.”
But the outcome of an upcoming MSG meeting in Port Moresby to consider the ULMWP's membership is uncertain. Fiji and Papua New Guinea have tended to support Indonesia's membership in the group, and downplayed the significance of the ULMWP. In contrast, other MSG members such as Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front have supported the West Papuans' bid for recognition.
“It's an issue right here in the Pacific … ordinary people already own this issue and run it,” said Wenda. “But the government level, I understand the Fiji and PNG position. 
“They're trying to rebalance their position because of diplomatic ties and trade. For me, I don't want to judge who is right, who is wrong [but at] the human level, they're embarrassed.
“But we belong to Melanesia and are entitled to full membership.”
Speaking about the challenges West Papua would face as an independent nation after liberation, Wenda said: “West Papua is a very rich country. How in the future can we stand on our own feet? I don't know, but we ready. 
“Of course multinational companies are already there. First they need to understand our lifestyle. We're not really interested in the gold. The main thing they need to respect is our land, our sovereignty is our main issue.
“My people can decide what is good for them or bad for them, because they have seen it, many, many examples they have seen. It's always been all about money, about gold, about timber, about oil. We will really need all solidarity to help us to stabilise all this when West Papua is independent.”
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2) Difficult Times For MSG But Future Looks Secure Still

May 28 14:16 201
Despite Peter O’Neill’s power politics in what seems to be disharmony in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), the bloc’s future still looks secure.
Mr O’Neill, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, is believed to have initiated the move to question the procedures used to appoint Amena Yauvoli as Secretary-General of the MSG.
He has adopted a Big Brother approach and flexed the PNG muscle towards Fiji in a bid to assert PNG’s influence and stake its claim as the hub of the Pacific.
But the internal politics is not expected to undermine the long term growth of the MSG.
This is why:
n The MSG’s Secretariat is now led by Mr Yauvoli, the former Fijian Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary. He joins MSG with excellent credentials and is the best person to administer MSG affairs. His contribution will be crucial in bringing stability and credibility to the organisation; and
n Melanesia is better off with a fractured MSG than without MSG. The world is turning to the Pacific for its resources and United Nations votes. MSG stands as a voice to defend the interests of its members against foreign exploitation and domination of its natural resources. Next year Fiji will host the first international Ocean summit co-sponsored by Sweden to look at preservation of sea resources. Fish and mineral resources are on the list. Deep sea mining will become a major focus.
So much is at stake that breaking up the MSG is not an option.
While the bigger picture is clear to the MSG members, it has not stopped the niggling differences and power play that  frustrate unity and development initiatives. The appointment of Mr Yauvoli was agreed by everyone initially.
Later, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu questioned the process followed to recruit him. That is going to be on the agenda for the next MSG leaders summit.
Mr Yauvoli has officially started work and it is understood that those who questioned his selection have sort of quietened down.
Confusion over the leaders’ summit dates and venue has given rise to a perception of turmoil in MSG.
Two weeks ago Mr O’Neill offered to host the MSG Special Leaders Summit in Port Moresby on June 2 soon after the 8th Summit of ACP (African Canadian Pacific) Heads of Governments May 30 to June 1.
The MSG summit was originally set for Port Vila in Vanuatu. It is not clear why it was shifted to Port Moresby.
Then last week Mr O’Neill tried to change the dates to May 27-29. But the dates were not suitable for MSG chairman, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, because their Parliament was sitting at the same time. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama was in Istanbul, Turkey, attending the World Humantarian Summit. Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola was in Ethiopia opening our new embassy in Addis Ababa.
Mr Sogavare  has strongly rejected a media suggestion that he and other MSG leaders were not treating the MSG summit seriously.
No new dates and venue have been set for the special leaders’ summit.
There has been clear division over two issues that will high on the summit’s agenda.
One is Mr Yauvoli’s appointment. The leaders’ summit is not expected to rescind the appointment. It is expected to clarify the process.
The second issue is Indonesia’s response to concerns about West Papua.
Vanuatu has a motion for the granting of full MSG membership to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua.
It is part of a growing support for West Papua by some MSG members. PNG has softened its stand in support of Indonesia and Mr O’Neill now faces calls to support West Papua.
Fiji’s stand, however, is that Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua cannot be questioned. Mr Bainimarama has said that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia. He has said that “when we deal with West Papua and its people, the MSG has no choice but to deal with Indonesia and in a positive and constructive manner.” On the human rights issue, he says the Indonesia that presided over those excesses “is not the Indonesia we know today.”
“It is now one of the most vibrant democracies in the world.”
Other issues that could be on the agenda are:
n Free trade agreement;
n Pacific Islands Forum. Invitations have been sent to MSG leaders to attend the next PIF meeting in the Federated States of Micronesia in September. Mr Bainimarama has not said whether he will attend it. He did not attend last year’s meeting in Port Moresb. Mr Bainimarama has said Fiji’s position in Australia and New Zealand should be development partners not full members.
Edited by Naisa Koroi


3) Airport in Papua to pay for use of customary land 

Nether Dharma Somba The Jakarta Post
Jayapura | Sat, May 28 2016 | 07:40 am
When negotiations failed to produce an agreement between two opposing sides in a land dispute concerning an airport in Papua, locals opted for a different approach in a bid to have their rights granted.

They did not resort to violence to have their demands heard, but instead blocked access within the disputed property until their aspirations were responded to.

The Sentani Airport authority in Jayapura has agreed to pay Rp 156 billion ( US$11.5 million ) in compensation for customary lands within the airport complex. That is the amount demanded by four ethnic groups that have claimed customary ownership rights over the designated fields.

“We have agreed that the payment for the customary lands will be conducted on May 31 at 8 a.m. at the headquarters of the Kotaraja Police’s Mobile Brigade [Brimob],” Sentani Airport head Agus Supriyanto said in Jayapura on Friday.

He said the cash had been prepared was currently kept at the Jayapura District Court.

Members of the four ethnic groups of Taime, Palo, Kopeu and Yoku claiming ownership over the fields on Thursday night blocked the airport’s taxiway near the runway. The blockade only ended on Friday morning after the head of the airport had agreed to meet the protesters demand for compensation.

The blockade was conducted by planting banana trees into drums and then placing them in the middle of the taxiway.

Agus said the action by the locals had delayed takeoff and landing procedures at the airport.

“A number of aircraft that were ready for takeoff were forced to queue for some time. Aircraft ready to land had to wait for 15 minutes before landing, and so did the aircraft that were ready to take off,” he said.

He said the 12 hectare plot of land belonging to the four Papuan ethnic groups were located at the runway, which measures 2,500 meters in length. Once the compensation is paid, the airport authority plans to extend the runway to 3,000 meters in order to allow larger aircraft to land at the airport.

A representative of the four ethnic groups, John Taime, said a further blockade would be organized if the compensation was not paid in accordance with the agreed schedule.

Following the agreement, the locals promptly ended their protest action and airport officers immediately cleared the taxiway to provide access to the runway for aircraft to take off and land.

Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Gustav Urbinas said his office had deployed 100 personnel to secure the blocked area of the airport.

“We are maintaining security measures so as to prevent such action from disrupting public interests,” said Gustav, adding that Sentani Airport operations continued normally despite the blockade.

4) Press release from legal team for the collision which killed Robert Jitmau

Robert Jitmau, a  respected Papuan activist who fought for the rights of
Papuan women market traders, died in the early hours of May 20th, after
being hit by a car. While the incident may have been entirely
accidental, many people in Papua are concerned that the police have
assumed this conclusion before conducting a proper investigation to
eliminate the possibility that his death was deliberate.

The press release translated below, from the legal team following up the
incident, can be read at

Police should investigate the collision which killed Robert Jitmau now.

Press Release

Legal team for the case of Robert Jitmau, killed in a car crash.

Jayapura, 27 May 2016 - On the morning of 20th May 2016, Robert Jitmau died after being hit by an Inova car bearing a police numberplate DS1497 AO) on an entrance to the ring road in Hamedi, near Jayapura. the crash, Robert Jitmau had been picked up from Entrop by Yusup

Sraun and Alpius Jitmau, and then went towards Dok V and afterwards to the TVRI station in Bhayangkara. From Bhayangkara Robert and his two friends went to the Hotel Aston where Yusup Sraun got out of the car to
met Krispus Kambuaya at the hotel. The four men then went towards Entrop and then to the ring road. They used two cars, with Crisps Kambuaya travelling alone.

Shortly after arriving at the ring road, Robert Jitmau called two companions, Nehemia Yarinap and  Melianus Duwitau, asking them to come to the ring road. Shortly after 04.00am the two friends arrived at the Ring Road on motorbike taxis. Robert sat down and chatted to them. The crash which killed him took place shortly afterwards.

The police have told local media that the crash which killed Robert Jitmau was completely accidental. They have also stated that they have questioned witnesses Yusup Sraun, Krispus Kambuaya, Nehemia Yarinap and Musa Rujatobi, as well as three people believed to be responsible for the crash: Herep Patay (the owner of the vehicle with police number
plates DS1497 AO), Ronald Edwin Metiaman and Dolfinus Abraham Sefia.

In the police statement to the media the police didn't mention that:
1. There was a fight between one of Robert's friends, Nehemia Yarinap, and someone who got out of the car that crashed into him.
2. The police have not yet questioned another friend, Melianus Duwitau, who was at the incident location. Melianus Duwitau is still being treated in the Dian Haarapan Hospital as he was also injured in the crash.

3. Also, the whereabouts of Alpius Jitmau are still unknown, even though he was a witness who was present when the incident took place. Unfortunately however, the police have been too fast to draw the
conclusion that Robert Jitmau's death was a purely accidental traffic collision, even before all the witnesses to the incident had been questioned.

The police have been given the authority to unearth the facts, and have a duty to conduct a full and professional investigation, prioritising the truth and justice over all other interests.

Because of this, the Legal Team for the Robert Jitmau case are asking the police to carry out a thorough, full, comprehensive and transparent investigation of this case before coming to any conclusions about the
collision which killed Robert Jitmau.

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