Sunday, May 8, 2016

AWPA West Papua update for April (–9 May) 2016

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088

         Summary of events in West Papua for April (–9 May) 2016

News update. Benny Wenda- Breaking the Silence tour of Australia this Month.
Details of Sydney events in update.

Crack down on peaceful rallies
The security forces in West Papua cracked down on numerous peaceful rallies throughout the past month culminating in mass arrests on the 2 May.  Up to 1700 people were arrested including KNPB members, student activists and pro independence supporters. Jubi reported (3 May) that activists were detained in Jayapura, Sentani, Merauke, Manokwari, Timika and Sorong. The rallies were called to show support for the bid by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) for full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and to support the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) who were meeting at the Houses of Parliament in London to discuss the issue.  Although the majority of activists were eventually released, during the arrests in Jayapura a large number of activists were taken to the Mobile brigade (BRIMOB) headquarters and made to remove their shirts and put in a field in the extremely hot midday sun. Seven activists were also tortured.  Jubi reported (article 6 May) that the torture against the seven activists took place in a special detention room named Karel Satsuitubun in the police headquarters.

Activists from the West Papuan National Committee said they were tortured and beaten up by police during their detention in Brigade Mobile Headquarters – Jubi

One activist told jubi that “The seven of us were treated inhumanly. They treated us like animals,” He said during the interrogation, officers stepped on the activists’ chests or backs, some repeatedly beat them on the head with riffle butts. “An officer came and hit me on my ear. For a minute I loss my consciousness. I regained consciousness when I felt something warm out of my ear. I grabbed it and it was blood,” he said. When other officers came, they kicked him on the chest and back. He said he felt the pain after he woke up the next morning. Jubi report at first reports of arrests came in AWPA call on the Australian Foreign Minister to condemn the arrests of the peaceful demonstrators  West Papua Media also created a #liveupdatesPapua twitter feed reporting updates on the arrests.  NGO organisations around the world urged their governments to raise the arrests with their government.  AWPA letter to Julie Bishop at 

Other rallies.
The KNPP have been a particular target of the security forces.
On the 5 April a number of activists were arrested including the chair of the KNPB Steven Itlay. in Timika.  It was reported they were beaten and kicked during the arrests. The Timika branch of the KNPB were simply holding a prayer meeting (“Prayers for the Papuan People’s recovery”) with local people from the area and also in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). The  Jakarta Globe on the 6 April reported that at least 12 activists from group the KNPB, were detained after a rally turned violent in Kampung Bhintuka-SP13 field in Mimika, Timika district, Papua on Tuesday (05/04). Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yustanto said the protest was forcefully dispersed after rally coordinator Steven Itlay gave a speech about Papua independence. A West Papua Media report on the incident at

On the 13 April rallies were again held in a number of districts of West Papua. A RNZI report (14 April) said that the demonstrations in West Papua have been described as a sign of widespread support for integration with the wider Melanesian community. The peaceful demonstrations in the main cities of Indonesia's Papua region were attended by thousands of West Papuans under the banner of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. The demonstrations, voiced support for the Liberation Movement and its bid to gain full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, resulted in dozens of arrests. One of the key Papuan political groups in the Movement, the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, was centrally involved in organising the demonstrations. The KNPB chairman Victor Yeimo addressed the demonstration in the Papuan provincial capital, Jayapura.

In RNZI report .West Papuans demonstrating support for the Liberation Movement had the Papuan Morning Star flag emdy and garb. Photo: Tabloid Jubi
Franciscans International also released an U/A on the incident

On the 29 April, reported on the arrest of more KNPB activists in Jayapura. The activists were arrested simply because they were handing out leaflets informing people of a rally to be held on the 2nd May. The purpose of the rally was to commemorate and protest the tragic betrayal of West Papua by the international community when West Papua was handed over by United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) to Indonesian administration on the 1st of May 1963, 53 years ago. The KNPB also called on people to show support for the meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in London. AWPA release at

Meeting in Vanuatu
The Vanuatu Free West Papua Committee organized a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Parallel MSG Forum In Port Vila to take place leading up to the official MSG Meeting in Vila. And supported by PIANGO. Although the MSG meeting was postponed the CSO Forum took place. It started on the 29 April with an inspiring march through Vila leading up to the MSG Secretariat. The Vanuatu people turned out in force and were joined by representatives from solidarity groups from the region. 

More Photos of march at

On 1st May the forum was launched in a church opposite Independence Park and held on the 2 and 3 May.

                                                 Photos Vera Green AWPA Adelaide

A new report “We will lose everything” was also launched at the forum in Vanuatu. The full report, on a Human Rights Fact Finding Mission to West Papua conducted by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese Brisbane at

At a historic meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in the Houses of Parliament on the 3 May a new declaration was signed calling for an internationally supervised vote on the independence of West Papua. Delegates came from around the world to attend this historic meeting on West Papua’s future. The meeting was briefed by parliamentarians, lawyers and academics, all of whom discussed and affirmed the West Papuan people’s fundamental right to self-determination.
The declaration reads as follows:
We the undersigned Members of Parliament, being members of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua: I. Declare that continued human rights violations in West Papua are unacceptable. II. Warn that without international action the West Papuan people risk extinction. III. Reiterate the right of the people of West Papua to genuine self-determination. IV. Declare the 1969 ‘Act of Free Choice’ to be a gross violation of this principle. V. Call for an internationally supervised vote on self- determination in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541 (XV).
Palace of Westminster, London, the 3rd of May 2016
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader drew attention to the plight of West Papuans, saying the recognition of human rights and justice should be the “cornerstone” of the UK Labour party’s foreign policy. The Labour leader made the comments in an address to a meeting of international parliamentarians, supporters and activists in London on Tuesday. The group, which included Pacific region ministers and leaders, among them the West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda, called for a UN-supervised independence vote in the Indonesian territory

Pacific Archbishops also make a surprise ‘fact-finding’ visit to West Papua
A delegation of 20 bishops from the Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands were also told of Papuan desires for independence from Indonesia, during a visit to the Papuan provincial capital, Jayapura. Local rights activists were given only short notice about the visit as the bishops arrived in a vehicle convoy across the PNG and Indonesian border under military escort. In a letter presented to the bishops, Catholic Women of West Papua wrote of the significance of the visit: “Few foreigners and even fewer esteemed guests like yourselves are able to get permission to come, or are willing to risk visiting our country,” the statement said.
“We want you to know that we are not free. 
“We are confined in a situation that is full of violence. 
“Because of the Indonesian police and military we do not feel safe in our own land.
“We desire to determine our own future, freely and fairly. 
“We want you to know that the United Liberation Movement for West Papua represents us. They have our full support.”

Pacific Islands Forum submissions
The Framework for Pacific Regionalism calls for an inclusive public policy process to identify issues of importance across the region. Each year, as part of this process, the Forum Secretariat provides an opportunity for people, groups, organisations, international agencies, and governments, to submit a policy initiative that requires the attention of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. A number of submissions on West Papua were received and can be seen on link below.
From PIF Secretariat website
Secretary General Pleased with the Public Response to Call for Pacific Region Policy Initiatives
A total of 47 regional policy initiatives were received by the closing date for the 2016 public call for submissions under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. “I would like to thank everyone who made a submission this year, as your efforts show that there is a strong appreciation and appetite for Pacific Regionalism. They also show an understanding of the benefits that can come when Forum countries cooperate and collaborate to address the big issues and interests that we face and can share together,” said Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and Chair of the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism, Dame Meg Taylor. The submissions cover a diverse range of policy areas including energy, education, labour mobility, ocean, tourism, and health, with the highest volume of submissions centred on issues relating to climate change and West Papua.

“It is pleasing to see new initiatives and issues emerge from across the region. It is also encouraging to see that some of the submissions this year build on regional policy priorities that emerged through this same public policy process last year. Not only is there ongoing interest and discussion around regional responses to climate change and West Papua, but there are proposals that acknowledge and seek to strengthen the work currently being done in the areas of ICT and fisheries,” said Dame Meg. Submissions were received from individuals, civil society, the private sector, multi-country consortiums, multi-lateral agencies, and academia from countries across the region - including Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

In speaking about the next steps of the process, the Secretary General said that, “Pacific Leaders have committed to listening to the Pacific people, and this consultative public process has identified a strong selection of policy ideas for us to consider. The Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat will be assessing and analysing each of the submissions over the next six weeks. They will be looked at against the criteria for regionalism outlined in the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, and would also be consulting with technical expertise appropriate to each submission. This will ensure that any policy initiatives that are recommended to Pacific Leaders warrant their oversight and commitment.”

The Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism will meet to discuss the submissions in June before making their recommendations to Pacific Leaders who meet in Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia, between the 7th and 11th September 2016. The Specialist Sub-Committee will endeavour to ensure that the recommendations to Leaders consist of a handful of strategic, high level regional priorities. In doing this, the sub-committee will take stock of the current priorities and make recommendations on whether they should remain on the Leaders agenda in 2016.
Submissions can be viewed on the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s website.

Support for West Papua grows in the region.
As support for West Papua grows in the region, Jakarta has tried to counter it by offering aid and visiting the Pacific countries on lobbying missions.
From a RNZI report 7 April
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua says Papua remains an issue for the wider Melanesian region despite Indonesia's efforts to internalise it.
Since the Liberation Movement was granted observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group last year, Indonesia has increased its diplomatic engagement with MSG member states. Jakarta, which has MSG associate member status, is lobbying to fend off support for West Papuan self-determination and said it had the support of Fiji and Papua New Guinea to become a full member.
This follows last week's Indonesian ministerial visit to PNG and Fiji where Jakarta handed over five million US dollars in cyclone relief assistance.
One of the Liberation Movement's interior executives, Markus Haluk, said the lobbying was to be expected. "Indonesia lobby money and economy for Fiji and Papua New Guinea. But no problem, we are optimists, because West Papua problem is same Melanesia problem." Markus Haluk said that in Papua itself, grassroots support for the Liberation Movement was huge.
 The opening of a ULMWP office in Wamena, Papua province, in February, was attended by an estimated five to six thousand Papuans. However, following the opening, Indonesian police dismantled the Liberation Movement signage as well as detained Mr Haluk and a fellow ULMWP member for questioning over their involvement in establishing the office. Leading Indonesian government officials have said that movements which harbour independence aspirations must be crushed. Yet Papuan leaders have repeatedly identified brutal treatment of their people by the security forces as a main driver of dissatisfaction with Indonesian rule.

From Antara News report
Indonesia strengthens ties with South Pacific nations
Pewarta: Fardah Kamis, 7 April 2016 
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and his delegations recent trip to Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) demonstrates Indonesias commitment to forging strong bilateral relations with South Pacific countries. The Indonesian delegation arrived in Suva, Fiji, on March 30 for a visit aimed at boosting bilateral relations between Indonesia and Fiji. Minister Pandjaitan paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister J.V. Bainimarama, held a bilateral meeting with Fijis Minister for Agricultural, Rural, Maritime Affairs and National Disaster Management Ina Seriaritu, and a luncheon with Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.
The minister extended financial assistance worth US$5 million to help the victims of the Winston typhoon that hit Fiji in February and delivered a letter from President Joko Widodo to Prime Minister Bainimarama.  In addition to the financial aid, Indonesia also sent US$3 million worth of goods for the victims of the typhoon. The minister remarked that Indonesia will deploy engineer troops to help reconstruct Queen Victoria School in Lawaki. "In early May, the TNIs (Indonesian Defense Forces) engineer troops will arrive. We will also send 100 units of hand tractors to help develop agriculture here," Pandjaitan noted. "I have conveyed to Prime Minister Bainimarama and Foreign Minister Kubuabola that we will be consistently present in the region," the minister pointed out. Minister Seriaritu hailed the aid and cooperation offered by Indonesia. He said Indonesia was a key player in the Asian and Pacific region, and the countrys success in disaster management and mitigation had received international recognition.

Indonesia Objects to $1.7 Bln Freeport Asked for Stake: Energy Official
Jakarta Globe By : Wilda Asmarini | April 11, 2016
Jakarta. Indonesia has objected to the $1.7 billion Freeport McMoRan asked for a stake in its local unit, an energy ministry official said, because the price tag was too high and the government is considering alternative options.
“We told them that for now there was no agreement on the price,” Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot told reporters on Monday, referring to a letter sent to Freeport regarding its offer. Gatot declined to give details on what price the government thought would be fair for the 10.64 percent stake in Freeport Indonesia that the U.S.-based parent company must divest. Reuters

Upcoming events
Benny Wenda- breaking the Silence tour of Australia this Month (see flyers)
We encourage people to come and pass on information re event to your organisations, groups and friends.

Opinion pieces/reports/ press releases etc.

Why today’s global warming has roots in Indonesia’s genocidal past

Marap Indigenous Group claim back three oil palm plantation divisions in Arso.

West Papua – ‘a nation in waiting’: Behind this week’s uprising

Silencing West Papuan independence supporters overseas

'Sea-level rise has claimed five whole islands in the Pacific: first scientific evidence'


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