Sunday, March 12, 2017

AWPA update February 2017

Summary of events in West Papua for February  -13 March 2017

West Papua raised at UN

It was encouraging to see the Pacific Countries again raise the West Papuan issue at the UN.  Ronald K Warsal, the Minister of Justice and Community Development in Vanuatu critised Indonesia at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (1 March 2017) over the human rights situation in West Papua. He was speaking on behalf of a coalition of seven Pacific countries Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Palau, Marshall Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. In concluding his statement the Minister said,  “as I close, we believe that challenges of West Papua must be brought back to the agenda of the United Nations”. The Vanuatu Minister’s statement on UN Web TV at

In its right of reply Jakarta rejected the allegations made by the Vanuatu and basically said Vanuatu should look at its own human rights violation and abuses against the people of Vanuatu, such as violence against women, corporal punishment against minors and appalling prison condition.

The Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) executive director, Emele Duituturaga said about Jakarta’s attack on Vanuatu,
“Their response was to resort to divide and conquer by picking on Vanuatu and then again offering to help Vanuatu with its alleged human rights issues in response to the Pacific coalition’s request to treat a member of the Pacific family – West Papua - with respect and dignity,” Duituturaga said. She said the Pacific Islands Coalition on West Papua (PICWP) of which PIANGO is a member of would not be requesting the UN to send special rapporteurs into West Papua if they didn’t have enough evidence to prove that West Papuans were suffering. “Indonesia plays an important role in Pacific stability and peace, their contribution to the region is widely known and appreciated. Pacific governments and civil society would not just as easily undermine such an important relationship.”
However, when there is overwhelming evidence that thousands of West Papuans who are Pacific Islanders have lost their lives as they tried to raise alternative views in the governance of their resources with state authorities and even to motivate seven Pacific countries to form a coalition on West Papua, Indonesia must realise it can no longer afford to feign innocence at the UN.”

Indonesian President visits Sydney
The Indonesian President visited Sydney on the 25-26 February. As usual talks were about trade and security and to shore up a minor break in military ties between the two nations. No talk of the human rights situation in West Papua at the Sydney meeting.  Supporters of West Papuan in Sydney protested during Jokiwi’s visit.  

Gathering outside the Channel 7 studies in Martin Place, supporters then marched to the Sydney DFAT offices and on to the Sydney Town Hall. Speakers including West Papuan representative Lewis Prai spoke out about the Lombok Treaty, the military and the plundering of the resources of West Papua. Photos of Sydney protest at

A week after the Indonesian President visited Sydney, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop went to Indonesia to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) leadership summit in Jakarta. The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was celebrating its 20th Anniversary and Indonesia is the current chair. AWPA called on the Prime Minister to raise the issue of human rights violations in West Papua.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to visit West Papua
The SMH (7 March) reported that “The sensitive topics of Papua and the impact of the worst oil spill in the history of Australia's offshore petroleum fields have been raised in talks with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Indonesia. The Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said the "openness of Papua" had been discussed and revealed Ms Bishop had agreed to visit the province later this year.”

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has cautiously welcomed the news that Australia's Foreign Minister is to visit Indonesian-ruled Papua region this year. While Ms Bishop's visit is not being described as a human rights fact-finding mission, the Liberation Movement says it is important that other governments find out more about the situation in Papua (RNZI 8 March).

Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St in Darwin painted over
KIERAN BANKS, NT News March 12, 2017 1:15pm

 Painters paint over the Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St. PICTURE: Ivan Rachman

A FINAL protest to save a mural dedicated to the persecuted women of West Papua failed to prevent the piece of cultural art from being destroyed.
The mural, a sign of friendship between indigenous Australians and West Papuans, was half painted over last week. The remainder of the mural was covered yesterday morning and protester Cindy Watson said 10 people tried to save the artwork, to no avail. The mural was painted on a brick wall at the intersection of Cavenagh and Bennett streets in June 2015 but Ms Watson said “pressure” from Indonesia to remove it had been strong ever since. She said it was particularly disheartening to lose the mural on the day Darwin marched for International Women’s Day.

Cindy Watson holds up a West Papua flag while painters behind her paint over the Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St. PICTURE: Ivan Rachman

“Whilst there’s a lot to celebrate with the things that women have achieved, there’s a lot to still struggle for and right on this day the remainder of an Aboriginal and West Papua friendship mural was wiped out,” she said. “We wanted the mural to stay. It was not only a symbol of friendship, it was a piece of art, cultural art, and under pressure publicly from Indonesia it was completely wiped out.”
Ms Watson said more needed to be done to help the women of West Papua. “We are working on more murals and on International Women’s Day we need not only to celebrate but we need to stand up for the voiceless people and that is the women of West Papua.”

                                          Photo of original mural below. From ABC repor8 Jun 2016

PHOTO: West Papua independence activist Piter Elaby touches up a mural in Darwin's CBD on Australia Day, 2016. (ABC News: Felicity James)

Freeport Indonesia
There has been an ongoing dispute between Jakarta and Freeport.
The Jakarta Post reported (8 March) that the prolonged contractual dispute between the government and PT Freeport Indonesia, had prompted the giant miner to temporarily suspend production which  resulted in weakening economic growth in Papua especially in the mining sector. In the report the Bank of Indonesia’s assessment had projected that Papua would see economic contraction in the second trimester. This is a result of the declining performance in the mining sector due to the dispute. Whatever the outcome of the negotiation, Papua’s economy will be affected,” Joko Supratikto, the head of Bank Indonesia’s Papua representative office, said on Wednesday. “Overall, economic growth in Papua in 2017 is predicted to stand between 3 and 3.5 percent year on year,” he said in the provincial capital of Jayapura. Last year, Papua saw 9.21 percent economic growth, higher than the national figure of 4.95 percent. Mining contributed to 42 percent of the growth, he added.

Several Papuans dance during a demonstration of Freeport workers in front of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry in Jakarta on Tuesday. They demand the government and Freeport find settlement as soon as possible so the mining company can resume operations.(JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Freeport’s  Indonesia’s president director Chappy Hakim resigned just three months after his appointment as the mining giant's top executive in February.

The Jakarta Post (13 March) reported that  the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) will conduct an audit on PT Freeport Indonesia following the government’s decision to assign the body an advisory role during a settlement with the company over a contractual dispute.

A Jakarta Globe factbox on Freeport at
Factbox: Indonesia's Huge Papua Mine Run by Freeport Long a Source of Friction

Church-backed coalition  calls on Indonesia to open access to West Papua
Members of a church-backed coalition have called on Indonesia to open access to West Papua for international journalists, independent observers, human rights organizations and the International Red Cross (ICRC). The call came at an international consultation hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) with the International Coalition on Papua on 22 February at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva. Peter Prove, director of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) quoted from the WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who visited West Papua in 2012 saying he was fully behind his statement after the visit.
“We support the struggle for human rights of the people of Papua. We urge an end to the ongoing violence and impunity.
“We support the call for social and economic justice through serious dialogue and a concrete political process that seeks to address root causes of the present problems,” Tveit had said.

The Rev. Francois Pihaate, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches based in Fiji, said the churches in the region are very concerned about violence in Papua. “How can we as churches be ignorant of what is going on outside our own world? That is why we as churches are concerned,” said Pihaate.

Rev. Francois Pihaate, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches. Photo: Peter Kenny/WCC

Australian Diggers disciplined
The Australian Defence Force has disciplined officers involved in the tense defence brawl with Indo­nesia over West Papua. In January, the head of the Indonesian armed forces, General Gatot Nurmantyo, announced that he had suspended military co-operation with Australia, a ­decision that it appeared he made unilaterally. He said the reason he made the decision was because one of his ­Kopassus special forces officers found “hurtful” teaching material while training at the SAS’s ­Campbell Barracks in Perth. He said the material suggested that West Papua, which Australia recognises as part of Indonesia, should be independent and other material mocked Indonesia’s founding principles, known as the Pancasila. The ­Defence Department yesterday confirmed army personnel ­involved in either creating or ­distributing the materials that caused the controversy had been disciplined. “As a result of the investi­gation, the individuals involved in the incident have been subject to formal administrative action and the Australian Army has taken the management action necessary to address the matter,” the department said in a statement. (The Australian March 3, 2017).

Vale Eni Faleomavaega
Condolences to his family and friends
Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin was American Samoa's representative to the United States Congress. He  died on the 22 February 2017. He was a good supporter of West Papua.  

                       Del. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS) at 2010 Congresional Hearing on West Papua.Photo by John M. Miller/ETAN.

A tribute to Eni Faleomavaega by Ed McWilliams at

Names released of four West Papuans charged with treason
RNZI 13 Feb. 2017
The names of four political activists charged by Indonesia with treason in West Papua have been released by the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International. Hiskia Meage, Emanuel Ukago, Panus Hesegem and William Wim are members of the pro-Papuan independence organization, the West Papuan National Committee and were among 70 people who were arrested while demonstrating in North Sulawesi Province in December.
The rally was part of 14 simultaneous demonstrations across Indonesia in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua becoming a full member of Melanesian Spearhead Group. Amnesty said 528 people were arrested nation-wide on 19 December but most were released without charge the following day. Committee members Hosea Yemo and Ismael Alua were also charged with treason for organising the rallies. Amnesty said the men remained in detention for exercising their right to peaceful assembly and should be considered prisoners of conscience.

West Papuan claims Australia deported him to PNG
RNZI 23 Feb. 2017A West Papuan English teacher, who escaped persecution to an Australian island in the Torres Strait, claims he was deported to Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby. The man, who wants to keep his identity a secret, said he fled the West Papuan regency of Merauke, where he was trying to help a group of Papua New Guineans detained by Indonesian police.
In 2006, Indonesia withdrew its ambassador from Australia after it refused to extradite a group of West Papuan asylum seekers. The man said Australian authorities agreed to deport him to PNG. "I said to them I don't want to go back. Not only is my life in danger, but my friends, my family. Everyone close to me is in danger. If they found out me everyone will be in danger," he said. The man said he was currently in a refugee camp in Port Moresby where he was waiting for PNG authorities to determine his refugee status.

KPK raises possiblity of ‘collusion’ in Papua road project
Jakarta |Post  Sat, March 4, 2017

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is looking into the possibility of naming another suspect in a graft case related to the Jayapura road construction project that implicates Michael Kambuaya, the head of the Papua Public Works Agency. The anti-graft body said it had uncovered alleged collusion among the parties involved in the project. “During the [ongoing] investigation, investigators uncovered alleged collusion committed by parties involved in the project,” KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah told journalists on Friday. He further said the investigation revealed an alleged mark-up in the Rp 89 billion (US$6.68 million) construction project, for which the state suffered Rp 42 billion in losses, or almost a half of the value of the project. “There are indications that the project is 40 percent overvalued. Around 10 to 15 percent from the total mark-up [the deduction from the real and perceived value of the project] was distributed to local officials,” Febri said. He further said the corruption case violated the rights of Papuans to enjoy the full benefits of infrastructure development. Financed by the 2015 revised regional budget, the project involves a 24-kilometer road connecting Kemiri and Depapre in Jayapura. (mrc/ebf)

Korindo has violated deforestation ban, NGO reveals
By Vaidehi Shah Thursday 16 February 2017
Controversial Korean conglomerate Korindo pledged to stop clearing forests until it had conducted proper sustainability assessments, but campaign group Mighty has gathered evidence to show that Korindo has broken its promise. It has barely been two months since Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo bowed to demands from environmental activists and announced a moratorium on forest clearing in its palm oil concessions, but campaigners claim that the company has already broken that promise.  Through satellite images obtained on 13 January 2017—about a month after Korindo’s moratorium announcement—United States based non-governmental organisation Mighty found that Korindo was preparing to clear about 1,400 hectares of forest in an area that it had promised to stop clearing until the land had undergone proper audits to assess its conservation value. Full report at

Papua’s Bird of Paradise under threat, says WWF
RNZI 27 Feb.2017
Environmental group World Wildlife Fund is warning that the Bird of Paradise is at threat, particularly in Indonesia's Papua province.
The group says the bird is considered sacred by Papuan tribes but it is increasingly becoming the target of illegal trading, taxidermy and poaching.
It is advocating an eco-tourism approach, including bird watching, to help conserve the bird's population and provide value ot local communities.
WWF spokesperson in Papua, Andhiani Kumalasari, said efforts must be made to save the bird before it's too late.
"We must conserve the birds of paradise so the next generation - your children, your grandchildren, can still look directly [at] or find the birds of paradise in the forest - not in a book or on the internet or a picture - or just a story from their parents or grandparents or something like that."
Andhiani Kumalasari says the bird's habitat, native forests, must also be protected if it is to survive.

Govt speeds up development in Papua
6 March 2017
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government of Indonesia will continue to speed up the development in Papua and West Papua provinces, according to Communication and Informatics Minister Rudiantara. "Hence, the public will realize that the government is serious about the progress of development in Papua and West Papua," Rudiantara remarked in a media discussion on "Indonesia Centrist Vision: Equality in Papua," here on Monday.

The minister noted that access to the Internet in Papua and West Papua is around 300 kilobytes/second, much slower than that in Jakarta with 7 gigabytes/second. "In addition, the cost of Internet access to Papua and West Papua is 65 percent more expensive compared to Jakarta," the minister noted.

Therefore, Rudiantara added that the government is currently developing the Palapa Ring projects in areas that cannot be reached by telecommunication operators. The Palapa Ring, one of Indonesias priority infrastructure projects for the 2016-2019 period, aims to accelerate the growth and distribution of telecommunication network across the country. With an undersea fiber-optic cable network stretching across 13 thousand kilometers and an onshore network of nearly 22 thousand kilometers, the Palapa Ring project is expected to provide high-speed broadband Internet access to the entire people living in urban and rural areas. According to the minister, the project demonstrates that the government of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is serious about establishing cooperation with investors for infrastructure development in the country.
The Palapa Ring project -- divided into three sections of west, central, and east Indonesian region -- is the first cooperation in the telecommunication sector under the availability payment method scheme initiated by the Ministry of Finance. Of the three Palapa optical fiber ring projects, the west section will link areas in the provinces of Riau, Riau Islands, and Natuna Island with total optical fiber cable length of 2 thousand kilometers.

The central section will cover Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and North Maluku, with an optical fiber cable length of 2.7 thousand kilometers.

The third or east section will cover 35 districts/municipalities in four eastern Indonesian provinces of East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, West Papua, and Papua. "The east section of Palapa Ring project will have a total optical fiber cable length of 8,454 kilometers with the total value of Rp5.1 trillion," Rudiantara remarked in Jayapura, Papua, on Thursday. Rudiantara visited Papua recently to promote the Palapa Ring projects east section to the local government. He underlined that the project aims to meet the publics infrastructure needs in the telecommunications sector, particularly in the eastern region of Indonesia, and to offer faster Internet access to the region.

Opinion pieces/reports/press releases/upcoming events etc.

Up coming

Screening  dates
Tuesday 14 March – PSA House, Sydney
Friday 17 March – ANU Food Co-op, Canberra
Thursday 22 March – Croation Wickham Sports Club, Newcastle*
Thursday 23 March – 4Pines Brewery, Brookvale

Proceeds go to The United Liberation Movement Of West Papua.

A chance to wear a West Papuan T-shirt or carry a WP flag
Palm Sunday Rally Sydney
for 2017 is being organised by a broad coalition including church groups, unions, refugee rights groups and community organisations.
Theme: Deliver a clear message calling for an end to the politics of division and for our political leaders to welcome refugees, close the detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru and bring the refugees to Australia. 
Sun. 9 April 2017 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm 
Location  Hyde Park North, Sydney 

Starting from Hyde Park North, then march to First Fleet, Circular Quay

Remember West Papua - ANZAC Day Demo

Photos from  around the world showing  support for the Pacific Coalition for West Papua’s UN address

Sign the petition
A simple action to support West Papua is to sign the petition. Over 20,000 people have signed so far.

Media release-AWPA calls on the Australian PM to raise West Papua with Jakarta

Urgent Action: Prisoners of Conscience Could Face Life in Prison (Indonesia: UA 35/17)

Shirking Matilda: The Realpolitik Case for Australian Recognition of West Papua

INDONESIA: Government unwilling to resolve past human rights abuses

Amnesty International State of the World Report 2016/2017

Environmental costs, benefits and possibilities:
Q&A with anthropologist Eben Kirksey

PT Agriprima Cipta Persada clears the Mahuze Kewamese Clan’s Ancestral Forest.

Will changes to Indonesia’s mining law hurt or help the environment?

AWPA Jan update

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