Friday, May 5, 2017

1) Pacific nations condemn Indonesia’s human rights violations at ACP meeting

1) Pacific nations condemn Indonesia’s human rights violations at ACP meeting

2) West Papua Action Auckland letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs
3) Indonesia prepares 600,000 ha land for transmigration

1) Pacific nations condemn Indonesia’s human rights violations at ACP meeting

By Pasifik Staff - May 5,

THE Pacific Island nations of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands delivered a hard-hitting joint statement today condemning Indonesia’s human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, at the Council of Ministers of the 79-member Africa Caribbean Pacific Group of States (ACP) and called for an eventual resolution that includes support of the right of West Papuan political self-determination.

The statement, made by Johnny Koanapo, a high-ranking member of the Republic of Vanuatu parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for the Office of the Vanuatu Prime Minister, transfixed the packed council room as he graphically described Indonesia’s violations and West Papuans’ ‘slow-motion genocide’.

West Papua, the western half of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, has been under Indonesian rule since the 1960s.

Koanapo said that the seven Pacific nations were ‘very concerned [that] the international community had neglected the voices of the Papuan people over the last 50 years’.

The ACP, he stated, was the right place to seek further support for the plight of West Papua because African and Caribbean countries are ‘the oldest defenders of West Papua’s right to self-determination’ and consistently tried to defend the Melanesian West Papuans as they ‘were passed from one colonizer to another’ more than a half century ago. The ACP, which was founded in 1975, is comprised of almost all former colonies itself.

As some among the hundreds of country delegates and staff nodded in strong agreement, Koanapo called Indonesian governance and massive state-backed settlement an ‘Apartheid-like colonial rule’ that was ‘slowly but surely’ going to wipe out the West Papuans as a people ‘while… the world stood by’.

Estimates of indigenous West Papuans killed during Indonesia’s rule range from 10 to 25 per cent of the population, he said, or several hundred thousand people. He added that Indonesia’s own National Commission on Human Rights has described its country’s actions as crimes against humanity.

“According to numerous reports, those deaths and all the associated acts – the violent arrests of non-violent protestors, the beatings, the torture, rape, disappearances, extra-judicial executions, intimidation of the local Papuan media, the barring of foreign media from the territory – have continued through the 20 years of [Indonesian] democracy,” Koanapo said.

“However, this forgotten race [is] still fighting.”

Under a policy of state-supported population movement, more than two million Indonesians have also settled in the territory. They now outnumber the indigenous Papuans and dominate the economy and almost every arena of life in the cities, towns, coastal areas and growing zones of mining, logging, gas and oil production and plantation agriculture.

The West Papua advocacy team in Brussels.
After the meeting, Koanapo stated that the day’s discussion sets up the great likelihood of a resolution on the full range of West Papua issues at the next ACP ministerial council meeting, which is scheduled for this coming November. A number of ministers and ambassadors later approached Koanapo to thank him for his ‘extraordinarily powerful’ speech.

During the past several years, the coalition of Pacific Island nations, echoing the West Papuans, has argued in regional and international venues that Indonesian violations will not be ended by focusing just on human rights. There needs to be a proper act of self-determination or the conflict, which damages Indonesia, as well as West Papua, will continue indefinitely. The ACP appears to be coming to the same conclusion.

This is the fourth round of ACP discussions and sharing of information on West Papua. ACP meetings at the subcommittee and ambassadorial level during the past two months have elicited almost universal affirmations of strong support for West Papuan self-determination among delegates from Africa and the Caribbean.

At today’s Council of Ministers, the Papua New Guinea ambassador Joshua Kalinoe, whose country shares a 760km-long border with its powerful Indonesian neighbour, was the only delegate to speak against ACP moving forward on such a resolution in the months ahead.

The PNG ambassador conceded that no one is denying that the human rights violations are going on. He suggested that a fact-finding mission to West Papua might be necessary for the ACP to get a clearer picture of the situation.

Ambassador Alfredo Lopez Cabral from Guinea-Bissau spoke directly after the PNG ambassador, comparing the plight of West Papua to East Timor, which Indonesia violently invaded and occupied for 24 years. More than one quarter of East Timor’s population reportedly died as a direct result of Indonesian rule.

Guinea-Bissau and other former Portuguese African colonies were leaders in the long campaign on behalf of East Timor, which had earlier been a colony of Portugal, and is now the independent country of Timor Leste.

Ambassador Cabral said that there was no reason why the ACP shouldn’t take up the issue and help West Papua gain a similar referendum on independence to what East Timor finally received after the fall of Indonesia’s Suharto dictatorship in 1998 and mounting international pressure.

West Papuans have long argued that they are geographically, racially and culturally part of the Melanesian Pacific, not Asian Indoneisa. During the 1940s and 1950s, even leaders of the Indonesian independence movement, such as Mohammed Hatta, his country’s first vice-president, stated that Papua had not been part of the Indonesian struggle and needed to become a separate nation. At the time, observers expected West Papua to become the first independent Pacific Island nation.



2) West Papua Action Auckland letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs

West Papua Action Auckland
Box 68-419

3 May 2017

Media Information: World Press Freedom Day

The following letter has been emailed to the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gerry Brownlee today, World Press Freedom Day.

It is outrageous that journalists are being threatened and beaten as they pursue their profession  in West Papua. This is  happening at the same time as Indonesia hosts an international World Press Freedom Day event and cannot be swept under the table.  New Zealand has a responsibility to speak up for the freedom and safety of the journalists in West Papua.  We should also  be calling for free access to West Papua for international journalists.

See letter below.
For further information:  Maire Leadbeater  09-815-9000 or 0274436- 957.

West Papua Action Auckland
Box 68-419

3 May 2017

Hon Gerry Brownlee
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Parliament Buildings

Dear Mr Brownlee,
We strongly urge you to take up the issue of threats and violence against journalists in West Papua with the Indonesian authorities. Today Indonesia is hosting World Press Freedom Day at the same time as grave abuses of press freedom take place in West Papua. This cannot continue.

As UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day with a major conference in Jakarta, we hear to our distress of  a police  assault in Jayapura on a young Papuan journalist,  Yance Wenda, of Jubi newspapers.  We understand that Yance Wenda was observing a demonstration on 1 May when he was forcibly taken to the police station and beaten with a rattan cane.  He sustained injuries to his torso, mouth and eyes despite  carrying a legitimate letter of authorisation from his employer in his bag.  To make matters worse, dozens of peaceful activists were arrested in Jayapura on this day.

In a second serious incident a few days earlier (April 28 2017), in Wamena, three TV journalists received death threats and had their cameras taken off them.  The three were covering a District Court  trial to do with election procedure violations and had the judge’s approval to take pictures. Despite this, an unidentified group of people subsequently evicted them from the courthouse and forcibly seized their cameras.  These events have been reported to the police but as we far as we know no action has yet taken place.

Sadly, this example of police brutality towards local journalists is nothing new in West Papua.  In a four year period ending in 2016, 63 cases of violence against journalists were recorded by the Alliance of Independent Journalists.  There were no sanctions for the police in any of these cases.  Indigenous Papuan journalists in particular, experience great difficulty in covering events and in obtaining information from the security forces when  a Papuan person has been detained or shot.   Several publications have been banned.

We also remember Ardiansyah Matra’is, a journalist for Merauke TV, whose body was found in a river in 2010, not long after he had reported on plans for a new agri-business  and on illegal logging involving police officers.  The police claim he committed suicide, but the autopsy showed he had died before entering the river.

Despite the fact that Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced in 2015 that media restrictions on West Papua had been lifted,  very few international journalists are able to enter West Papua and those that do are tightly monitored.  Unsurprisingly, Indonesia has a low ranking on the Reporters without Borders (RSF) list; 124 out of 180 countries.

The combined impact of threats and harassment of local journalists and a virtual ban on international journalists has very grave implications for the state of human rights in West Papua. New Zealand cannot stand aside.  We look forward to hearing of the steps you will take to  advocate on behalf of intimidated journalists and freedom of the press in West Papua,

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater
(for West Papua Action Auckland)


3) Indonesia prepares 600,000 ha land for transmigration
Jakarta | Fri, May 5, 2017 | 07:19 pm

The government has allocated 600,000 hectares of land as part of a transmigration program for people want to move from crowded cities and towns to remote agricultural areas.

“There are 600,000 hectares of land that is ready to be converted into a transmigration area both for local residents and those from Java,” said Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry’s development and people’s empowerment director general Ahmad Erani Yustika in Jakarta on Friday as reported by

He declined to divulge the exact location of the property, revealing only that it is located in Kalimantan.

The transmigration program facilitates people who wanted to become farmers by providing them with sufficient agricultural land.

In the 1980s and 1990s, many residents of Java and Bali moved to Sumatra, Kalimantan and even Papua, but currently, the government is now inviting locals to take part in the program.

Erani said with the program, his ministry is also supporting a land reform campaign, in which the government distributes plots of mostly forest lands to farmers from 74,910 villages.

“About 40 percent of the 74,910 villages have forest territories. There are also villages that have  mining areas and social forests controlled by the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry,” he added. (bbn)


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