Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summary of events in West Papua for June

                                       Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)


Summary of events in West Papua for June - 16 July 2017

Action. Two petitions that people can sign to help support the people of West Papua

Help to end the genocide in West Papua
Please sign this petition calling for an end to the genocide and a free and fair independence vote for the West Papuan people. 
34,323 signers. Let's reach 50,000

Samsung: Drop Deforestation

Video Green MP Delahunty calls for NZ action, media focus on West Papua
By Pacific Media Watch -  July 6, 2017
Ashleigh McCaull’s video story. Video: PMC YouTube channel Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk
Final year Bachelor of Communication Studies student journalist Ashleigh McCaull at Auckland University of Technology talks to Green MP Catherine Delahunty about the West Papuan human rights violations and lack of New Zealand political and media interest. Delahunty calls for stronger action from the NZ government and better coverage of the issue of the Indonesian-ruled Melanesian region from the media. “If everybody understands the story, then they’re going to show the same solidarity as Pacific nations show for the West Papuan people,” she says.
WARNING: Some viewers may find some scenes in this story distressing.

Transcript from Senate Estimates hearings in relation to West Papua. 
(Note. Green Sen. Ludlam has just  resigned after discovering he has dual Aust/NZ nationality).
Senator LUDLAM: We will flip halfway around the world, if we may, as we get towards half past 6. What is the department's view of the general human rights situation in West Papua?
Mr Cox: The overall situation in West Papua? Senator LUDLAM: No, the human rights situation.
Page 98 Senate Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Mr Cox: The situation in Papua and West Papua is something we monitor very closely. I think the human rights conditions there are improving.
Senator LUDLAM: Has there been any recent reporting from our embassy in Jakarta regarding human rights abuses in West Papua?
Mr Cox: There have been reports from our post in Jakarta on the general conditions in West Papua based on visits to the provinces by our embassy staff, yes.
Senator LUDLAM: During the February estimates, Mr Cox, you informed that you were not aware of any recent reports of human rights violations. Please feel welcome to confine your comments to the last three months, if you like. Are you aware of reports that on 1 May this year Indonesian police arrested 200 people in Sentenai at the National Committee for West Papua's headquarters?
Mr Cox: That may have been in the context of a morning flag raising.
Senator LUDLAM: A Morning Star flag?
Mr Cox: A Morning Star flag; that is right.
Senator LUDLAM: I am not aware if that is the case or not. You may well be correct. There were also reports that a journalist was detained and beaten. So you are aware of these reports?
Mr Cox: I am not aware of the latter report but I am aware of some reports around Morning Star flag raising. Those are the responses that happen from police when that happens, yes.
Senator LUDLAM: You raise a flag and—
Mr Cox: That is considered to be an act of separatism.
Senator LUDLAM: You can raise a flag and be beaten and imprisoned?
Mr Cox: Certainly arrests happen when that happens, yes.
Senator LUDLAM: Arrests, beatings, imprisonment, torture and occasionally extrajudicial killing happen.
Mr Cox: Yes. That is what happens.
Senator LUDLAM: That is what happens. How often do DFAT officials engage West Papuan interlocutors regarding the political and human rights situation in West Papua?
Mr Cox: I am sorry?
Senator LUDLAM: How often do DFAT officials engage West Papuan interlocutors regarding the political
and human rights situation in West Papua?
Mr Cox: Regularly.
Senator LUDLAM: Days, weeks, months or hours? Can you give us a bearing?
Mr Cox: We regularly engage with a range of voices in West Papua and Papua Province. Senator Brandis was there last year.
Senator LUDLAM: I understand he was.
Mr Cox: He engaged with a wide range of interlocutors.
Senator LUDLAM: Let us get a sense of what you mean by 'regularly'. How many times has an embassy official travelled into West Papua since 1 January 2015?
Mr Cox: Since January 2015?
Senator LUDLAM: Yes.
Mr Cox: I will get that figure for you on notice.
Senator LUDLAM: I would appreciate that. If you can break up for us how many of those visits were related to Senator Brandis's visit in August 2016?
Mr Cox: Yes. I will get that on notice.
Senator LUDLAM: On notice, also, could you provide a list of West Papuan organisations with whom the
embassy has met since 1 January 2015?
Mr Cox: 2016?
Senator LUDLAM: 2015.
Mr Cox: Yes, we can get you that on notice.
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 Senate Page 99
Senator LUDLAM: Were human rights abuses in West Papua raised by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during his recent visit to West Papua? I think it was in early March.
Mr Cox: I am not aware.
Senator LUDLAM: Are you able to find out for us?
Mr Cox: I will have to check on that.
Senator LUDLAM: It should not be too difficult but I understand if you do not know then you do not know. That is fine, but are you able to take that on notice to establish whether or not those issues were raised?
Mr Cox: It is something that is the providence of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Senator LUDLAM: Yes, but I am presuming they are informed by your officers. You are the ones with the
expertise, the range and the office in the area.
Mr Cox: A meeting between the Prime Minister and President Widodo is a matter for the Prime Minister and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Senator LUDLAM: Are you refusing to undertake to take that on notice or what exactly is happening?
Mr Cox: I think it should be directed to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Senator LUDLAM: So you are refusing to find out whether that was raised? Is it not a legitimate foreign policy question?
Mr Cox: It is a matter for the Prime Minister.
Senator Brandis: I think it would be fairer to say that the officer is declining to take it on notice because it is
not a question properly directed either to him or to this portfolio.
Senator LUDLAM: Senator Brandis, either you or Mr Cox, whoever feels free to take this question, would you agree with the statement that Australia is concerned, at least to some degree, about human rights violations in West Papua, irrespective of whether the Prime Minister—
Senator Brandis: Can you tell us who made that statement please? Senator LUDLAM: I am making it now.
Senator Brandis: I see. All I can tell you—
Senator WONG: Chair—
Senator Brandis: No. I just wondered if it were a third party. CHAIR: It is not a third party.
Senator LUDLAM: No, I am not quoting a third party.
Senator Brandis: All I can tell you is, as you know, I visited the Papua provinces last year through the auspices of our embassy in Jakarta. I did meet with a group of human rights spokespeople. I think I took this question on notice last year and I provided you, on notice, with a list of their names and the organisations that they represented.
Senator LUDLAM: You did.
Senator Brandis: That meeting was not conducted in the presence of any officials from the Indonesian government or under any form of oversight. The only people there were the human rights representatives, myself, my staff and DFAT officers from the embassy in Jakarta.
Senator LUDLAM: We have this on the record already. Senator Brandis: You asked the question.
Senator LUDLAM: But you are answering a different question. Senator Brandis: No, I am not.
Senator LUDLAM: Could I ask it again?
Senator Brandis: No. Let me finish my answer. So on that occasion I asked whether they had any recent complaints of human rights violations in the Papua provinces and they said unequivocally, 'No, we have no complaints about recent human rights. We make no allegations or complaints about recent human rights violations.' I asked whether they were of the view that the human rights situation in those provinces was improving and they unambiguously said that it was, in their view.
Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. Would you agree with the statement that Australia is concerned, at least to some degree, about human rights abuses in West Papua?
Page 100 Senate Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Senator Brandis: On the basis of my interaction and my meeting, relevantly recently still, with spokespeople, currently there are no allegations or complaints that have been made that I am aware of, but more recently than that there may have been, about which I cannot speak.
Senator LUDLAM: That is all right. We have discussed some of those. How about you, Mr Cox?
Mr Cox: In the case of the human rights situation, as I said, it is improving. It is not perfect. In our dialogues conducted with a range of voices in Papua and Papua provinces and in Jakarta we continue to raise issues such as access for journalists and free access for NGOs and others to the provinces to see the conditions on the ground. We continue to advocate for a development led non-police, non-security led approach to development and if there are cases that come to our attention then they will be raised with the appropriate authorities.,%20Defence%20and%20Trade%20Legislation%20Committee_2017_05_31_5055.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22committees/estimate/0a6ef7dd-2f88-423a-a01b-23b5c5b4e4c0/0001%22

Jakartas new man in Wellington opens up on Papua

RNZI 9 June 2017

 Indonesia's Ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

Even before the Indonesian ambassador took up the position, an interview with him was inevitable. Tantowi Yahya declared last December that it was his mission to educate New Zealanders about Indonesia's Papua region, or West Papua. Now, two short months into his posting as Jakarta's man in Wellington, there has been a spike in local activity around West Papua. The exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda came to town last month to lobby support for West Papuan self-determination.
As a result, eleven New Zealand MPs from four political parties signed an international declaration calling for an internationally supervised self-determination vote in Papua. It coincided with another protest to the Indonesian embassy where demonstrators gathered to call for West Papuan freedom.

A parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee has also been considering a petition urging New Zealand's government to address reported ongoing human rights abuses by security forces in West Papua.
"We understand the perception that hangs around in connection with Papua," the ambassador explained to me across the table in RNZ Pacific's Wellington studio. "For that reason our police and military have been doing their job very carefully. So they have been informed and very well trained not to do anything that can abuse human rights... But then the news that spreads to the world is the other way around."


Tantowi is a smooth talker. It's only when you hear his accomplished grasp of English and polished tone on the mic that it makes sense that this diplomat is a former country music singer. Not only that, he was a television presenter of some renown who hosted the Indonesian edition of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?. He then had a stint in Indonesia's House of Representatives during which time he expressed concern about the move by Indonesia's President Joko Widodo to ease restrictions on access to Papua for foreign journalists.
But now, Tantowi explained, he is on board with the President's opening up of Papua. Development in Papua, he said, was "running in high speed", a mark of President Jokowi's commitment to empowering grassroots communities and building infrastructure. "So that in a very short time, our brothers and sisters who live in Papua can enjoy what is enjoyed by their brothers and sisters living in other provinces."

In his first diplomatic role, Tantowi said the relationship between Indonesia and New Zealand was good, but he's seeking a better level of awareness of each other. Given the growing interest about Papua in New Zealand, this is an area requiring clarity, he said. According to him, it was not accurate to suggest that the powerful Indonesian military and police forces were in control of Papua, rather than government. Furthermore, he pointed to the fact that the provinces of Papua and West Papua, and their regencies, were these days governed by ethnic Papuans. The Governor of Papua province, Lukas Enembe, has warned that the indigenous population face extinction as a people if rampant migration of non-Papuans into their region continued. The ambassador said government could not stop people migrating to Papua. "Indonesians are free to live and work anywhere they want, and because Papua is part of Indonesia, they can go there," he said. While non-Papuans tended to dominate business in Papua, the ambassador did not see it as an area of concern. "Well, business is something new for Papua people, so they need to learn. This is a kind of transfer of knowledge from the migrants to the ethnic Papuans."

Benny Wenda's United Liberation Movement for West Papua has been spearheading a growing internationalisation of the independence struggle.
But Ambassador Tantowi said the indigenous population of Papua region was not pushing for independence. The push for a referendum, he claimed, was coming from overseas-based elements who did not represent the local populace.
"The people of Papua majority, they love being with Indonesia," he said, "they are happy with what we have been doing so far." The ambassador concluded the interview with a heads-up about upcoming celebrations to mark the anniversary of Indonesia's independence. Jakarta sees various cultural installations as a way to help grow New Zealanders' understanding of Indonesian people, while the governments of the two countries also forge closer ties. As the relationship develops, the narrative on West Papua continues to grow. 

Indonesia committed to Pacific, says ambassador
RNZI  6 June 2017 
Indonesia's new ambassador to New Zealand says issues of importance to Pacific Island countries are his country's concerns too. According to Tantowi Yahya, Indonesia, with its significant Melanesian population, considers itself part of the Pacific region. He said that like Australia and New Zealand, Indonesia was interested in helping prosperity, democracy and human development in the Pacific. Pacific Islands states, Ambassador Tantowi explained, could expect ongoing help from Indonesia on the big issues confronting them. "Climate change has been a great issue, right. We are trying to help. There will be some co-operations with Indonesia in those countries on that issue, and also capacity building," he said.

The ambassador emphasised the commonalities between Indonesia and countries across the Pacific Islands region. "We eat more or less the same food with the people in Samoa, in Vanuatu, in Solomon Islands; we drink more or less the same thing; and we have more or less the same culture. So that shows the brotherhood." While there is strong grassroots support in Pacific Island countries for West Papuans, Ambassador Tantowi said the indigenous population of Papua region was not pushing for independence. The push for a self-determination referendum, he suggested, has been made from overseas-based elements who did not represent the local populace. The ambassador said the provinces of Papua and West Papua, and their regencies, are governed by ethnic Papuans.

He disputed claims that Papuans seek a new self-determination process, saying Papuans took up the opportunity to vote in Indonesia's elections with relish.
"If you talk about a referendum, you're asking about yourselves. If it comes from your people, then probably it can be accepted by the government," he said.
"But here the voice of referendum is not coming from the Papuans. They are Papuans who live abroad and they are no longer Indonesians."
Tantowi Yahya said that in the last election Papuans strongly supported the government of Joko Widodo. He credited the Indonesian President with having made significant gains in economic development in Papua since 2014, especially with infrastructure.

Papuan Catholics protest against their own bishops 
Activists claim prelates are staying silent over social issues when they should be speaking out

Catholic Papuans stage a protest against their bishops in Jayapura, in Papua. The banners read, 'Where are the shepherds when their sheep are hunted by wolves?' (Photo by Benny Mawel)

June 14, 2017 
All five bishops serving in Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces have come under fire from indigenous Papuan Catholics for "staying silent" over alleged social injustices. Their anger prompted them to stage a protest outside the venue where Archbishop Nicolaus Adi Seputra of Merauke, Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura, Bishop Aloysius Murwito of Agats-Asmat, Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika, and Bishop Hilarion Datus Lega of Manokwari-Sorong were holding an annual meeting to discuss local church matters.
The meeting was held at the Maranatha Waena Convent in Jayapura, capital of Papua province. "The bishops stay silent instead of speaking up more about injustices faced by indigenous people. They let our dignity be torn up by unfair developments in areas such as health, education and even politics," protest organizer, Christianus Dogopia said. Local governments only focus on development programs in urban areas, where the majority are non-Papuans. He pointed to the availability of health care facilities in towns and cities as one example.

"Those living in remote areas cannot go to towns or cities as they do not have enough money even for public transport." Soleman Itlay, a Papuan activist who deals with health issues, also joined the protest. He said many indigenous people in remote areas die because of a lack of health care facilities.
Responding to the rally, Bishop Murwito promised to meet the protesters’ demand. "We will pay more serious attention to their demands," he said, adding that he and other bishops will work together with priests and parishes to deal with the issues.

Samsung partnership with Korindo ignites another fire scandal
 By Deborah Lapidus Tuesday 4 July 2017
Because controversies about exploding phones and corruption weren’t enough, Samsung has entered into a joint venture with deforestation-linked Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo, reveals Mighty Earth’s Deborah Lapidus.

 Forest clearance in Korindo's PT Papua Agro Lestari concession in Papua, Indonesia. Image: Mighty

Samsung’s phones are not the only thing in their business catching on fire. Samsung IT subsidiary, Samsung SDS, announced on June 19 that it has entered into a partnership with the notorious forest destroyer, Korindo Group, to form a joint venture in the logistics sector in Indonesia. As we documented in our Burning Paradise report, Korean-Indonesian agribusiness Korindo has cleared 30,000 hectares of rainforest and had nearly 900 fire hotspots on its palm oil concessions in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia since 2013. We also found that Korindo has taken land from indigenous communities without their consent. Yet, just as Korindo has been losing more and more major global customers over its bad track record and is now being investigated by the Forest Stewardship Council, Samsung decided to proudly announce a new partnership with the company.

Samsung is no stranger to these types of allegations itself.  A report released in December 2016 by a group of Korean human rights lawyers called Korean Transnational Corporations Watch (KTNC Watch) documents deplorable human rights violations that they observed on their field investigation to Samsung palm oil plantations in Riau province of Sumatra, Indonesia. The Samsung plantation companies are called PT Inecda and PT Gandaerah, and are part of a joint venture with the Indonesian Ganda Group.  Ganda Group has a well documented history of human rights abuses, including coming under scrutiny in 2013 for forcibly evicting villagers from their homes and destroying them. The report describes how the indigenous communities who have lived on this land for centuries have seen it snatched by Samsung’s plantations, with important ancestral and cultural sites taken over by the plantation. The company has diverted the rivers to irrigate the palm oil plantation, leaving the rest of the surrounding area with a severe water shortage. In addition, the pesticides and other toxic chemicals used on the plantation are polluting the waterways.  Local communities can no longer get the clean water they need to drink, clean, or wash. The plantations are also resulting in a major loss of biodiversity, which threatens the food and livelihood of the indigenous communities.
Samsung has been found offering bribes to discourage efforts to claim communal rights to the land, paying certain community members to spy on their neighbors and report back.

The report also documents extensive human rights violations of workers on Samsung’s plantations. There are frequent instances of child labor identified on the plantations and many workers report bringing their children or spouses to work to help them meet the high daily quotas set by Samsung. Workers are expected to handle toxic chemicals and work in a setting with inadequate safety conditions. There are no formal contracts, very low wages, high daily quotas, and long hours. Workers that live on the plantations are also subject to very poor, unhealthy living conditions. Given the unsavory operations of both Korindo and Samsung in Indonesia, it is no surprise that these companies would see eye to eye on how to conduct business in the country.  But just as this new partnership brings new opportunities for growth to both companies, it also brings new opportunities for Samsung’s millions of consumers around the globe to take action to end both companies’ abuses in Indonesia.

Given the unsavory operations of both Korindo and Samsung in Indonesia, it is no surprise that these companies would see eye to eye on how to conduct business in the country.
Samsung can’t afford another PR nightmare right now, as it’s working to build back its reputation following the recall of 2.5 million phones and as its CEO is on trial for massive corruption scandals in South Korea. The last thing Samsung needs is to be caught up in a scandal over forest destruction and species extinction. If enough Samsung customers take action, we can convince them to drop the partnership with Korindo, sending a clear message to Korindo that forest destruction is bad for business.  Sign the petition demanding that Samsung end its partnership with forest destroyer Korindo and adopt and implement a comprehensive zero-deforestation and human rights policy. Deborah Lapidus is campaigns director, Mighty. This post is republished from Mighty with permission.

TNI Guns Down Member of Armed Criminals in Papua
TEMPO.CO, Jayapura - Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel on duty in Ilaga post on Friday, July 7, reported to has shot a member of an armed criminal group (KKB) in Papua. The criminal group is also a member of National Liberation Army/Free Papua Movement (TPN/OPM). It happened at around 03:00 pm Indonesia Eastern Time (WIT) in Kampung Kago, Ilaga, Puncak Jaya regency.
The incident took place moments after the personnel on duty in Ilaga post heard a gunshot about one kilometer away which then validated by a report from the local people seeing TPN/OPM group carrying guns entering the village. Cendrawasih eighteenth Military Command spokesperson Colonel Inf. Teguh Rahardjo confirmed the shooting incident which killed a member of KBB and also TPN/OPM named Beti Murib. He said the body has been evacuated and they confiscated a 9 mm revolver containing five bullets.  He explained that two TNI personnel Chief Private Wahyu and Private First Class Angga traced down the river and suddenly Beti Murid pointed his gun to Private First Class Angga and his partner shot Beti Murid.     ANTARA

Oil palm licenses revoked in Papua's Merauke
RNZI 15 June 2017
Local government in Merauke regency of Indonesia's Papua province has pulled a number of oil palm licences in what's being called a victory for the environment. In recent years, tens of thousands of hectares of native forest have been lost to oil palm development and other agri-industries in Papua's far south-eastern regency. But the Merauke regency government revoked the permits of 11 palm oil and sugarcane plantations last week, saying their presence were of little benefit to local people. According to the Union of Catholic Asian News, Merauke's deputy regent, Sularso, said land that had been leased to the companies would be returned to their owners. This follows a moratorium imposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo last year on issuing of new permits to plantation firms for at least three years.

The regency's move has been welcomed by the Catholic Church and local people.
The chairman of Merauke Diocese's secretariat of Justice and Peace, Father Anselmus Amo said the presence of palm oil companies harms indigenous peoples, their land rights and the environment. He said oil palm plantations "caused the loss of tens of thousands of hectares of forest in Merauke, damaging the environment and creating land conflicts". Father Amo called on local government to do more and monitor the activities of plantation companies still operating in Merauke more closely.
The church wants local government to conduct a detailed assessment of the environmental and socio-cultural impacts palm oil companies have by involving academics, practitioners and indigenous peoples. Meanwhile, Elisabeth Ndiwaen, a leader of the local Marind tribal community, said her people looked forward to taking back their land but expressed bitterness that much of it had been ruined by deforestation. Describing forests as like a mother who can give life, she explained that the forest provides Papuans with food via hunting and the harvesting of crops. Mr Ndiwaen said much of that value had been reduced due to forest clearance by palm oil companies. 95.3 percent of Merauke Regency's land mass of 4.6 million hectares was forested. According to UCA, more than 1.6 million hectares had been given to companies, of which 316,347 hectares were for palm oil plantations.

Papua movement challenges Jakarta on climate
RNZI  13 June 2017 
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has urged Indonesia's government to put words into action about helping the Pacific with climate change. This follows comments by Indonesia's ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, that Jakarta was committed to helping Pacific Island states confront big issues such as climate change. He said Indonesia would assist the Pacific with capacity building on the issue. However the Liberation Movement's Pacific regional ambassador says if Indonesia wants to help on climate change it should stop allowing high rates of carbon emissions across the republic.
Akaboo Amatus Douw says Jakarta must stop the many national and international companies whose operations in Indonesia contribute to the global warming causing havoc for Pacific Islands. Papua region, where clearance of forest for palm oil development remains rampantis considered by environmental groups as one of the areas of most concern regarding emissions. Meanwhile, Mr Douw said the Indonesian ambassador made a false statement in claiming that West Papuans are happy being part of Indonesia. He said Papuans feel "culturally, ethically and socially" distinct from the rest of Indonesia and seek independent statehood. The Liberation Movement diplomat also said Jakarta's claims about developing Papua for the better were misleading "Indonesia just wake up yesterday to try infrastructure development in West Papua after the course going to world attention globally," he said West Papua, he said, would not develop better with what he called Indonesia's "discriminative model of infrastructure and social economic development".

Papua bans hunting, trading of birds of paradise
Nethy Dharma Somba  The Jakarta Post June 9, 2017 

Conserving the species: Local resident Steven Rumbawar shows an artificial bird of paradise he produced. Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe has banned the use of real birds of paradise as accessories or souvenirs. (JP/Nethy Dharma Somba)

Papua has banned the use of birds of paradise as accessories and souvenirs, protecting one of the province’s most famous endemic species from commercial exploitation -- its most immediate threat.    The move aims to reverse a trend that has resulted in the massive hunting and illegal trading of birds of paradise.
Authorities banned the hunting and trading through Circular No. 660.1/6501/SET issued by Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe, which prohibits the use of real birds of paradise as accessories and souvenirs.

“There’s no one allowed to use preserved birds of paradise, either, as accessories or souvenirs in dance performances or as head decorations presented to officials or guests visiting Papua. These all must be stopped. As replacements, they can use artificial birds of paradise,” said Papua administration regional secretary Heri Dosinaen during the celebration of World Environment Day in Nimbokrang, Jayapura regency, Papua, on Friday. He said birds of paradise were on the brink of extinction in Papua as the species was extensively hunted and traded as accessories and souvenirs. “Without concrete actions to protect them, these birds will soon disappear from this Birds of Paradise Land,” said Heri. The use of real birds of paradise would be allowed only for sacred traditional processions in Papua, he added. Following the issuance of the circular, Heri said, Papuan authorities would raid souvenir shops and take measures against anyone found selling and using real birds of paradise. “All accessories or souvenirs made from real birds of paradise would be confiscated,” he said. (ebf)

 Critically endangered: Two Papuan girls show artificial bird of paradise accessories they will use in their dance performance.(JP/Nethy Dharma Somba)

Torture Remains a Serious Problem in Indonesia: AHRC
By : Sheany  June 30, 2017
Jakarta. The Asian Human Rights Commission, or AHRC, last week urged Indonesia to consistently implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture, citing several areas of concern that have allowed torture to take place in the country, such as the absence of a national law to punish torture, its continued practice in police investigations and little accountability for perpetrators.
Despite having ratified the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1998, torture remains a serious problem in the archipelago.

"The government and the parliament have failed to develop high legal standards to prosecute and punish torture," the AHRC said in a statement to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Monday (26/06).
The AHRC highlighted several problems that prevent Indonesia from eliminating torture. This includes a lack of an effective oversight mechanism for police, allowing power abuse as well as pretrial detention under the criminal code encouraging torture in custody. Despite the government having issued a handbook of human rights to police officers, torture is often committed to extract confessions from suspects and witnesses.
As many victims of torture are mostly poor, uneducated people with little understanding of their legal rights and most torture cases involve suspects unable to access lawyers or public defenders, the Indonesian criminal justice systems suffer from shortcomings that allow the continued practice of torture.
The AHRC pointed out that the 2011 Legal Aid Law still proves ineffective for poorer members of the community facing criminal investigations.
"Until today, the Indonesian police are still the most frequent perpetrators of torture," the AHRC said in the statement.

Counterterrorism Efforts
Sunday's suspected terrorist attack that resulted in the death of a police officer in Medan, North Sumatra, may serve as momentum to speed up the finalization of an ongoing revision of the 2003 Antiterrorism Law, currently deliberated by the House of Representatives. Jakarta-based human rights group, the Setara Institute, said on Wednesday that the police need pretrial authority to prevent terrorist attacks. Along with the rest of the world, Indonesia is gearing up to face increasing threats of terrorism. Giving police greater powers and ensuring that law enforcement officers can effectively prevent terrorism will become increasingly necessary.\ However, Indonesia may need to address root problems in its criminal justice system to avoid severe violations of human rights in its counterterrorism efforts. Despite having ratified the UN Torture Convention in 1998, Indonesia is still unwilling to establish a human rights court to address violations defined in the Human Rights Law of 2000.
Besides the human rights court, Indonesia has also been eliminating the crime of genocide from the law.

External Oversight
External oversight, which is crucial in bringing perpetrators to justice, still remains ineffective in Indonesia.
Independent state agencies, such as the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), fell short in their expected roles to ensure effective law enforcement in cases of torture cases and to contribute to the eradication of the practice.
"The government should develop high standards of law to prosecute and punish torture [...] The government should also develop effective oversight mechanisms to ensure that all forms of torture and abuse of power conducted by state agents are punished, and that the culture of impunity is abolished," the AHRC said.

Indonesia seeks meeting with Freeport CEO to end copper mine dispute
Wilda Asmarini and Fergus Jensen  JULY 11, 2017

JAKARTA/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Indonesia says it will invite the head of mining giant Freeport McMoRan Inc to Jakarta this month to try to settle a festering dispute over a new deal to operate the world's second-largest copper mine.  The Arizona-based company resumed copper concentrate exports from the mammoth Grasberg mine in April after a 15-week outage related to the argument over mining rights, but a permanent solution to the row is yet to be found.  Uncertainty over output from the mine buoyed international copper prices earlier in the year, with Indonesia a key supplier of the metal to top consumer China.  Any meeting with Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson would be attended by mineral resources minister Ignasius Jonan and finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, mining ministry secretary general Teguh Pamuji said late on Monday. 

A U.S.-based Freeport spokesman declined to confirm whether Adkerson would attend the planned meeting, but said both sides continued "to work toward reaching a mutually positive resolution to support our long-term investment plans".  Freeport's share price gained more than 5 percent on Monday to close at $12.52, its biggest single-day percentage climb in 11 weeks.  The conflict comes as Freeport pushes back against parts of new government rules that require miners to adopt a special license, pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51-percent stake in their operations and relinquish arbitration rights. The company is one of Indonesia's biggest taxpayers. 

Freeport has maintained its request for a so-called 'investment stability agreement' to help replicate the legal and fiscal certainty it had under its existing agreement with the government, said Pamuji. 
"Perhaps that will be decided on at the high level meeting at the end of this month," he said referring to the stability agreement, adding that minerals minister Jonan was "optimistic" negotiations would conclude in July. 
Finance minister Indrawati is known for her no-nonsense approach to negotiations and knack for slicing through red tape.  Freeport has also asked for a guarantee on rights to mine Grasberg up to 2041 before committing to billions of dollars of planned underground mine investments and a second Indonesian copper smelter. But Pamuji said the government were only willing to extend the company's permit by 10 years to begin with, to 2031 from 2021.  Reporting by Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta and Fergus Jensen in Singapore; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta and Susan Taylor in Toronto; Editing by Joseph Radford

Manpower office to facilitate meeting between Freeport and workers
Antara 16 July

Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) - The manpower office of the Mimika District, Papua, said it would soon facilitate negotiation between Mimika Labor union and the management of PT Freeport Indonesia. Head of the labor office Ronny Marjen said the negotiation would seek a solution to dispute between the management of the U.S. mining company and the workers . "We are coordinating with the provincial Manpower Office of Papua to arrange a meeting and in two weeks before the meeting takes place in Jayapura the agenda has been prepared," Ronny said here on Saturday.  He said after the meeting between the labor union and the management of Freeport in Jayapura on July 10 the provincial manpower office asked the Mimika district manpower office to facilitate a meeting the two conflicting sides . Mimika District Head Eltinus Omaleng has expressed frustration saying he could not bring the two sides to a compromise and hoped to hand over the case to the central government. However, Ronny said the Mimika district administration is obliged to facilitate and seek to mediate the dispute involving thousands of workers in Timika.  "We could do not more than facilitating a meeting between the disputing parties or seek mediation through industrial relations tribunal , and that is the duty of the Mimika district manpower office," Ronny said.  So far both sides, the workers laid off by Freeport and the management of Freeport have no plan to seek settlement through court.  "We are ready to mediate if any of them want to bring the dispute to court," Ronny said.

Freeport Indonesia, which has large gold and copper mines in Papua, has laid off thousands of its workers after it was not allowed to export its concentrates following the government regulation requiring mining companies to process their minerals in the country.  The management of the company said the layoff measure was for efficiency. Later the government allowed the company to resume exports its concentrate, under certain condition.  The workers have urged the government to immediately settle their dispute with the company as the number of laid-off workers has continued to increase. Until March , 2017, the company already laid off 2,102 contract workers, while giving long leave and offering voluntary resignation to 291 permanent staffers, according to the local unit of All Indonesia Labor Union's (SPSI), which represents around 12,000 workers of Freeport.  The labor union claimed that PT Freeport aims to dismiss 782 permanent staffers in the first phase of its efficiency measures. "The company should discuss its efficiency measures together with the union so that both parties can reach a win-win solution," Tri Puspital, an advocacy division member at the SPSI for PTFI, was quoted as saying .(*)

President, Baldwin Lonsdale
Vanuatu's widely revered President, Baldwin Lonsdale, has died after suffering a sudden heart attack in the Pacific island nation's capital of Port Vila.
Mr Baldwin, who had served as President since September 2014, died in the early hours of Saturday morning aged 67, the Vanuatu Daily Post reported.
Dan McGarry, media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post, said hundreds of people had stood in a vigil held after Mr Lonsdale's death to pay their respects to the highly regarded head of state.
Article in Asia Pacific Report

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