Wednesday, February 28, 2018

1) An Indonesian District Isolated From Development

2) Indonesian Military Receives 24 F-16 Fighter Jets From the US
3) Dutch citizen dies at Papua Diving Resort

1) An Indonesian District Isolated From Development

February 28, 2018
By: Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Dikanaya Tarahita

In a country comprised of thousands of islands, some of which have never been explored by outsiders, one of the most isolated regions in Indonesia is Asmat District, six and a half hours by plane from Jakarta to the Papua capital of Jayapura, then another hour’s ride in a 10-passenger Twin Otter or Caravan, followed by a nine-hour fast ferry ride across the Arafuru Sea.
It is a journey that can only be regarded as risky and not for the faint-hearted, given the possibility of extreme weather that can and does capsize vessels and that causes some passengers to stay on uninhabited islets to await the next boat rather than dare forbidding looking clouds.
This is the southern coast of Papua, nearly 30,000 square kilometers of forest, rivers and swamp with only 90,316 people in a district about the size of Belgium. Surrounded by mangrove forests and rivers, Asmat City is built on wood and boards over a swamp. The ethnic Asmat coastal tribes live as fishermen. Motorcycles can only be found in Agats, the capital of Asmat district 30 minutes down the river by boat. In more remote villages, the majority walk or use boats. 
Prone to Illness
In January, Asmat faced an extraordinary crisis when 646 children were affected by a measles outbreak, a disease eradicated in the Americas and much of Europe. With 144 children recorded as suffering from malnutrition, the two diseases killed 70 people. With a global mortality rate of 19 victims per million people, measles is not a deadly disease and its treatment is not difficult. But 70 lives are an expensive price for a preventable tragedy.

It isn’t the first time famine and disease have taken the lives of under-five children in Papua. Asmat’s children look at incoming visitors expectantly with bloated bellies and breastbones that stand out, a common indication of malnutrition, apparently hoping the arrivals mean food. A total of 55 residents of Yakuhimo District died of starvation in 2005. Twice in the same area, as many as 100 residents have died. Another 95 residents of Tambraw District died because of the same issues in 2012.
Malnutrition is inevitable because there is no real food security. The marshy soil is not suitable for agricultural use. Consequently, nutritional intake for children is far from ideal, a problem made worse by the limited availability of clean water. With the soil unsuitable for wells, clean water is obtained from rainwater catchment, a problem in the dry season.
Although water is available from nearby rivers, it is unhealthy because villagers, unaware of sanitation and clean water provision, defecate on the banks where they obtain drinking and cooking water. The rivers and swamps are murky at best and the water is unfit for consumption.
Rare Health Facilities
There are only 16 health care centers, known as Puskesmas, serving 23 districts and 224 villages. However, Asmat is not the only region in Papua with minimal health care facilities. In an area of 319,000 sq km – an area the size of Poland or Norway, with a population of just 3.5 million people, Papua has only 589 health service units. Compare that with Jakarta, with 2,763 health units covering 664 sq km.

The low number of health care facilities in Papua is proportional to the lack of health personnel. In such a vast territory, Papua has only 17,000 medical personnel. In comparison, in West Java with an area of 35,000 sq km, there are 119,000, approximately seven times as many as Papua.
The Agats district has only one surgeon and seven general practitioners. It has no pediatrician although the hundreds of cases of malnutrition in infants and toddlers require handling by specialists in childhood diseases and afflictions.
What Needs to Be Done
Asmat’s isolation is a fundamental issue affecting the availability of public services such as health, education, and others. However, the central government is not turning a blind eye to the existing development gap. Between 2002 and 2017, Papua has received a special allocation of almost Rp58 trillion (U$2.4 billion). Another Rp8 trillion has been budgeted for 2018.
With Asmat District having been allocated not less than Rp173 billion for health care, it is almost incomprehensible how famine has always repeated itself there. However, funds go unused because the sick don’t or can’t seek hospital care. A trip from one village to another requires long hours of boat travel, and few even own boats. Take Atat village, located on the banks of the Mamat River and surrounded by swamp. To reach the closest district hospital in Agats, residents must rent a boat costing Rp3-4 million (US$210-292) for three hours’ travel time. Just finding money to pay for food is difficult. Renting a boat is out of the question.
If the trillions of rupiahs allocated to the local government aren’t utilized on fundamental issues, the situation isn’t going to change. The hungry continue to be hungry, the sick will get sicker. What is really needed in Asmat is the opening of road access. Where they exist, 43 percent or Asmat’s roads are unpaved and 56 percent are made of wooden planks. Only slightly less than 1 percent of the district’s roads are made of concrete.
The construction of roads and transport facilities is vital to contribute to the eradication of various issues of low quality of life in Asmat. The opening of access would facilitate the transfer of goods and services to contribute to the mobility of the public to use public facilities such as access to health care. The availability of proper transportation of access would also allow the construction of other crucial facilities such as hospitals, schools and water treatment. But given the district’s isolation, it is a daunting task. Just getting there is hard enough.
Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat is a doctoral candidate at the University of Manchester. Dikanaya Tarahita is an Indonesian freelance writer. They are regular contributors to Asia Sentinel.

2) Indonesian Military Receives 24 F-16 Fighter Jets From the US
By : Telly Nathalia | on 7:57 PM February 28, 2018
Jakarta. The Indonesian Military, or TNI, accepted delivery of 24 General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets on Wednesday (28/02) as part of a grant from the United States.
The aircraft were handed over at Iswahyudi Air Force Base in Malang, East Java, witnessed by TNI chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and US Ambassador Joseph Donovan, the TNI said in a statement.
3) Dutch citizen dies at Papua Diving Resort

Sorong, Jubi – A Dutch citizen, Robert Postma (60), was found dead in a room at the Papua Diving Resort in Raja Ampat District of West Papua on Sunday (26/2/2018).
Republika, a Jakarta based news paper wrote the victim was found by his colleague, Peter, who had arrived there to wake him up. Unfortunately, the ill-fated Postma had already died.
Peter was shocked when he opened the door and found Postma dead in his bedroom, with his mouth bleeding, Police of Raja Ampat stated.
Postma allegedly died because of his illness.
The Raja Ampat police are still conducting medical checks on the victim’s body to determine the exact cause of his death.
Based on information obtained from the local people, Postma, who worked in PT Papua Diving Raja Ampat, was once the best diver in the world.
He has been claimed to be one of the divers to have ever dived in the sea through the wreckage of the Titanic (*)

Monday, February 26, 2018

GUEST BLOG: Maire Leadbeater – 60 Years of diplomatic relations with Indonesia: black marks on the record card

GUEST BLOG: Maire Leadbeater – 60 Years of diplomatic relations with Indonesia: black marks on the record card
By   /   February 27, 2018

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a snazzy theme to promote the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Indonesia: ‘60 years as friends for good’.
I’m all for friendship with the Indonesian people, but the diplomatic relationship has been badly marred over the years by our complicity and silence in the face of a long list of human rights crimes.  The 24 year Indonesian occupation of East Timor is a well-known example, but there are other egregious examples including  the matter of the 1965 massacres, when the ‘New Order’ regime set about killing half a million people accused of  ‘communist sympathies’.  New Zealand officials were well-informed about the scale and arbitrary nature of killings,  but they welcomed Suharto’s rise to power and one diplomat told a  1967 parliamentary committee that the transfer of power had been ‘surprisingly peaceful’.   At that time New Zealand’s diplomatic representation in Jakarta was upgraded from a Legation to a full Embassy.
New Zealand’s diplomatic relations with Indonesia began in 1958 when Dr A. Y. Helmi, Indonesia’s Canberra based Ambassador,  was accredited to New Zealand, and in 1961 New Zealand’s Colombo Plan office in Jakarta was upgraded to a Consulate General.   Back then there was a strong focus on New Zealand aid – especially educational and technical training support.
One of the first clouds on the horizon came in 1960.   The future of Netherlands New Guinea, as it was at the time, was at a crossroads. The Dutch were preparing the territory for eventual independence, but Indonesia was insisting that it should be incorporated into the Indonesian Republic.  The other half of the New Guinea island –today’s Papua New-Guinea- was administered by Australia under UN mandate.  New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Walter Nash, put forward a proposal that the two halves of the New Guinea Island should be placed under joint trusteeship and prepared for eventual independence as one country.  Nash put forward his initiative in The Hague in May 1960 and this prompted a trip across the Tasman by Dr Helmi.  Declassified reports show that Dr Helmi’s attempt to sway Mr Nash from his position wasn’t successful. Nash said that the people of New Guinea might need more time to get ready, but one day, like people everywhere, they would want to be independent.
Nash underestimated the forces against him – the United States and Australia had come to the conclusion that Indonesia mattered more to them than the people of West Papua,  and were quietly letting the Dutch know that they would be on their own should Indonesia carry out its threats of force.  But he was on the right track and over the years Papuan leaders have often upheld the idea of one united country: ‘from Sorong to Samarai’.
Unfortunately, New Zealand soon fell into line, burying its qualms about the way the 1962 US brokered ‘New York agreement’ handed the territory to Indonesia on a plate.   Our Ambassador observed part of the subsequent 1969 so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’, and described a stage-managed process, but his critical report did not prompt any action.  During the UN debate that followed, New Zealand stayed silent, leaving it to newly independent African nations to speak up for the West Papuan people .
New Zealand acquiesced to Indonesia’s 1975 invasion of East Timor and helped Indonesia to cover up subsequent crimes even as the death toll approached  200,000. Three New Zealanders died in East Timor at the hands of the Indonesian military or militia during the Indonesian occupation:  photo-journalist Gary Cunningham in 1975, human rights activist Kamal Bamadhaj in 1991 and peacekeeper Leonard Manning in 2000.  Notwithstanding, New Zealand has worked hard to develop and maintain a close bilateral relationship with Indonesia – and because the military is so influential in Indonesian affairs that has included defence ties.  Military training ties were suspended in 1999 after the cataclysmic violence in East Timor but resumed again in 2007 in the absence of any indication that the military had changed its spots or been held accountable for its crimes in East Timor.
Sadly, this is very much an ongoing issue as New Zealand says as little as possible about Indonesia’s ongoing crime of ‘slow genocide’ in West Papua.  In January it emerged that dozens of children of  the  Asmat tribe had died of measles exacerbated by widespread malnutrition. The Asmat,  famed for their elaborate carving and wood sculptures, struggle to preserve their way of life and diet against the predations of forestry, palm oil plantations and mining. Yet they live, metaphorically speaking,   in the shadow of the Freeport  McMoran gold and copper mine, Indonesia’s largest taxpayer.
The Papuans are calling for their right to self-determination to be respected but for successive New Zealand governments that is an ‘s’ word, never to be uttered for fear of offending Indonesia.   Sixty years yes, for good – hardly.
Maire Leadbeater is one of NZs leading human rights activists. Currently her focus is the human rights abuses in West Papua.

Recognising land and tenure rights ist he best way to protect Papua’s forest

Recognising land and tenure rights ist he best way to protect Papua’s forest

                                  Customary ceremoni in Miyah tribe of tambrauw, West Papua – IUCN

Friday, February 23, 2018

1) Condition in Asmat, Papua, improving: Minister

2) They’re killing the Koroway with mercury and precious metals.

3) Government Launches New Program for Asmat, Papua

1) Condition in Asmat, Papua, improving: Minister 

Illustration. The atmosphere of Kampung As, Pulau Tiga District, Asmat District, Papua. (ANTARA/Joko Susilo)

Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) - The condition of people in the district of Asmat, in the eastern province of Papua, has continued to improve following an outbreak of measles and malnutrition in the region from September 2017 until early January, a senior minister said.

"We have monitored the condition after the extraordinary case has been improving. Hopefully, it will continue to be better," Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Puan Maharani told ANTARA here on Thursday.

Maharani, along with Health Minister Nila Djuwita F Moeloek, Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham, Education Minister Muhadjir Effendi, and presidential chief of staff Moeldoko, will visit Asmat to monitor the current condition there and check if all programs have been carried out.

She noted that almost 90 percent of the programs of ministries and institutions concerned have been carried out, including the delivery of aid supplies.

While in Agats, the capital of the district, Marham distributed Family Hope Program aid to mothers, while Effendi distributed Indonesia Smart Card education subsidy.

Maharani and the entourage also checked clean water facility in a 200-meter deep well made by the Public Works Ministry, as well as food crops to support food resilience program carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Regarding malnutrition problem that has affected children in the district, Maharani remarked that the problem has been tackled well by a health team, adding that only one person was still being treated in a hospital.

"Out of 80 children treated for malnutrition at the RSUD (regional) hospital, only two patients are still there. One of them has been allowed to go home, while the other still requires treatment for medical irregularity," she revealed.

The health ministry plans to send around 30 more medical personnel to Asmat in the near future.

"The team members from Nusantara Sehat (archipelago healthy) will be spread to other regions to check for any anticipatory measures," she pointed out.

Regarding education, Effendi has pledged to increase the number of teachers for schools in Asmat.

"The education minister noted that each school must have teachers to assure adequate education for the children," Maharani stated.

She explained that the mitigation program now being carried out in Asmat could not be completed immediately due to difficulty to access the region.

"This will continue until the end of the year. Everything that we establish in Asmat will be implemented in stages. We will evaluate it again in the next six months. It is still continuing," she pointed out. 

Reported by Evarianus Supar 
Editor: Heru Purwanto

2) They’re killing the Koroway with mercury and precious metals.


[This is one of the images which circulated on social media in early 2018, purporting to show a new helicopter landing pad made by illegal gold miners in the remote forests of the Koroway people. Now it appears that mining was already taking place in the area three years ago]
At the start of this year, several photographs showing illegal gold mining in the Koroway lands went viral on social media. The photos show work to build a helicopter landing pad to drop off and pick up mining equipment, believed to be near the head of the Deiram River. The authenticity of these photos can’t yet be confirmed. However, a similar case had previously occurred in the Danowage area three years ago, in 2015 or thereabouts. Our knowledge of that incident comes from the reports of Koroway schoolchildren. They told their teacher about illegal gold mining around Danowage. These schoolchildren had been working for the gold miners.
This article is based on the stories four Koroway schoolchildren told to their teacher in early February 2018. The name of the teacher is being withheld in this article, and the names used for the children who gave evidence are not their real names.

‘Silver Water’

Yakobus told of how he had worked for a gold miner in the Landslide area, to the south of Danowage, 15 minutes away by katingting (a boat with a small motor). As he explained to his teacher, he had worked for straight-haired (a term for migrants from outside Papua) miners, from the Bugis ethnic group. He was given the task of building a base camp, carrying equipment, splitting firewood and other odd-jobs. However Yakobus claimed he had witnessed the whole mining process from start to finish. The person Yakobus was working for was called Koprak.
Yakobus told his teacher that the people who came to mine gold used a water pump, carpet, cloth for straining, pans and also ‘silver water’.
“The silver water is so heavy, even half a jerry can of cooking oil is so heavy, I can’t even pick it up”, said Yakobus.
Yakobus explained in simple language how silver water forms into balls, as if it were from outer space. He compared the weight of the jerry can with a battery from a solar panel system which weighs around 48 kilogrammes.
Obviously when Yakobus said silver water, he was referring to mercury, a heavy metal.
“Did they throw the silver water in the river?”, the teacher tried to make the question clearer, trying to get more information from Yakobus.
Yakobus said no. The illegal miners used the silver water to process more gold.
However the teacher was still not satisfied, and so asked Yakobus to describe how the silver water was used.
Yakobus related how the silver water was used to separate gold from black sand. The method used was to add a little water and silver water to the gold and sand mix and then stir. Then the gold would automatically be separated from the sand, and was kept, while the remaining water and black sand was thrown away. The silver water was poured into a bottle, and then strained through a cloth to filter out the water.
“After that they stored the silver water to use again and threw away the left-over water”, Yakobus said.
Yakobus didn’t know that the left over water which still contains mercury poses a danger to the environment. He went on to say that this water would be  thrown anywhere, into the bushes, on the ground, or even into the river.
This practice represents a serious risk to the Koroway people’s livelihood, bearing in mind that the Koroway community depend on the Deiram river for their lifelihood, including transportation, a source of food and a source of clean water.
The miners gave Yakobus 900,000 Rupiah for 12 days work. During those twelve days they were working, the yields had been low. So after 12 days they stopped mining and moved to Yaniruma. The miners asked Yakubus to come with them to Yaniruma, but Yakobus refused saying he wanted to go to church, as it was a Saturday when they asked.

Lazarus’s Circle, Abiowage and  Landslide.

Another schoolboy, Imanuel, had a different story. Imanuel was working for another person, called Jimi, who came from Kendari in Sourth-East Sulawesi province. However, Imanuel was not heavily involved, he was only asked to do some odd-jobs.
Imanuel admitted he was not permitted to be directly involved in the gold mining process. However he could confirm that the miners were using silver water. His job was to bring them the silver water and mining equipment.
“I was given 300,000 Rupiah pay for five days work”, said Immanuel.
Imanuel was working in the river to the north of Danowage towards Abiowage. He said that the name of the place the illegal miners were working was Lazarus’s Circle.
“It’s called Lazarus’ Circle because there’s an island in the middle of the river and the owner of that land is called Lazarus”, explained Imanuel.
The third schoolboy to tell his story was Anis. Anis was from Abiowage, and he also worked for Koprak,  Yakobus’s former boss. Anis told his teacher that his work was similar to that of Imanuel, general labour, including carrying the silver water.
“Koprak’s mining operation started in Abiowage, but then Koprak split his team in two, and part of the team started working in the Landslide area, the rest in Abiowage”, said Anis. Anis worked for six days and was paid 600,000 Rupiah.
Some other schoolchildren said they were only playing in the mining area, sometimes helping a little or becoming day labourers. One of them is called Tius. He says he was paid 50,000 Rupiah for one day’s work. However, Tius backed up his friend’s statements about the silver water. Another pupil, Nahyu, said that he had only helped to carry equipment and was paid as a day labourer. Asked about their transport, he said they only used boats and katingting, they didn’t have a helicopter.
The scenes witnessed by these Koroway children make the theory that illegal gold mining is taking place in several parts of the Koroway territory, not just in Danowage, seem more plausible.
“In fact we only know about these three locations. It could well be that mining is taking place all along the upper reaches of the Black Deiram river, bearing in mind that this recent mining incident has been revealed as having occurred in the headwaters of the Deiram River”, said the teacher after listening to the schoolchildren’s claims.
The teacher, who is also from the Koroway ethnic group, added that the illegal miners came and met the landowners, asked permission, gave them some money, and enticed them with the idea of great riches. They made a lot of Rupiah by panning the gold belonging to the Koroway people. They even used the Koroway to work stealing the gold that they were the rightful owners of.
“And then the children and other Koroway people who worked for them were only given low wages,” the teacher added.
The Korowai people live in the border areas between five regencies: Boven Digoel, Asmat, Mappi, Yahukimo and the Star Mountains. This ethnic group was discovered by workers from the Sorong branch office of the French oil and gas company PT Conoco in 1982 or thereabouts. The workers were carrying out seismic surveys at the time. At the time, the Koroway could still be classed as a nomadic hunter-gatherer community.
This kind of illegal gold-mining is a common occurrence in Papua, including in Degeuwo, Paniai Regency. Since gold mining started in Degeuwo, many people have arrived from different regions. They arrive using different routes, by air or over land, lured by the promise of gold. However Degeuwo subsequently grew rapidly, becoming a kind of wild west city in the middle of the rainforest. Entrepreneurs and traders tried to build houses as fast as they could, followed by kiosks and cafes. Places of worship were also built. Businesspeople opened nighttime entertainment spots, such as discotheques and billiard halls. Hard liquor started to become rampant. Before long, female sex workers also arrived.
Local people also started to map out the nearby locations as their property. Places for which the ownership had never been an issue became disputed between local people. This came about since each person felt that they could claim ulayat rights (a form of collective customary ownership recognised by Indonesian law) over the land which was formerly forested. Disputes  emerged within the local community, and enemies were made.
More often than not agreements are never found to resolve these situations, so slowly Degeuwo is also being “killed” with silver water and gold.


FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY, 2018 | 12:10 WIB
3) Government Launches New Program for Asmat, Papua

TEMPO.COJakarta - Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said that the central government is set to launch a rehabilitation program for the people of Asmat in Papua following the malnutrition and measles outbreak.
Moeldoko said the community service program will be realized in the form of Tentara Manunggal Masuk Desa (TMMD). “The program will start by improving the environment that needs to be fixed,” said Moeldoko at the Agats District public hospital in Asmat, Papua, on Thursday, February 22.
According to Moeldoko, besides the national armed forces (TNI), several ministries will also join the TMMD program.
In order to overcome the lack of sufficient amount of vegetables, the team will also educate local people about simple farming. Moeldoko said that during the work visit led by the Coordinating Minister of Human Development and Culture Puan Maharani at the Agats district in Asmat, Papua.
Other than Puan and Moeldoko, other ministers who also present were the Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek and Education and Culture Minister Muhajir Effendi. The team was accompanied by Asmat Regent Elisa Kambu during the visit to Papua.
The team monitored the region’s clean water pump, schools for young children, a sports arena, and the Agats public hospital. 
Adam Prireza

Thursday, February 22, 2018


2) Halltekamp Bridge to be completed despite suspension


Country report INDONESIA 2017/2018
Indonesia failed to address past human rights violations. The rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association continued to be arbitrarily restricted. Blasphemy provisions were used to imprison those who peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of religion and belief. At least 30 prisoners of conscience remained in detention for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression or of religion and belief. The security forces carried out unlawful killings and used excessive force during protests and security operations. Two men were caned in public in Aceh after being convicted by a local Shari’a court of same-sex consensual sexual relations…..


2) Halltekamp Bridge to be completed despite suspension
Jayapura | Thu, February 22, 2018 | 08:42 am
Nethy Dharma Somba The Jakarta Post
West Papua’s capital of Jayapura will soon have a new icon as the construction of Halltekamp Suspension Bridge is nearing completion.
Despite the government’s recent decision to halt the construction of elevated projects following accidents on construction sites, director general of Bina Marga Road Agency, Ari Setiadi Moerwanto, attended the installation of the main section of the bridge at the construction site in Jayapura on Wednesday.
“We have obtained a special permit from the Bridge Safety Commission,” he said.
The second section will be installed within the next two weeks.
The parts of the bridge are arranged in Surabaya, East Java, before being shipped to Jayapura by tugboat on a 17-day voyage.
The central and provincial governments have spent Rp 1.7 trillions (US$1.19 million) on the construction of the four-lane bridge, which will extend 732 meters with a width of 21 meters.
The bridge, which is planned to be finished by October 2018, will cut travel time from Jayapura city center to Skouw, an area on the border of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
“The bridge will reduce driving time from 2.5 hours to only 60 minutes,” Rustan Saru, Deputy Mayor of Jayapura, said.
He expressed hope that the easier travel would encourage Jayapura residents to settle in areas closer to Skouw instead of in the densely populated capital of Jayapura. (gis/swd)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

1) ULMWP Can Pass Muster: Foreign Minister

2) Papua election candidates' indigenousness confirmed
3) West Papua Liberation Army in fresh campaign against Indonesia

1) ULMWP Can Pass Muster: Foreign Minister

PM Charlot Salwai speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new ULMWP headquarters in Port Vila. The land grant was facilitated by then-Lands Minister, and now Foreign Minister, Ralph Regenvanu.

In a brief message yesterday, Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu responded to an Indonesian spokesman's claims by Indonesia's First Secretary for Political Affairs in Australia that West Papua's 'game is up'. 
Radio New Zealand reported earlier this week that Mr Sade Bimantara said that the "United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead group has reached a dead end."
In the interview with RNZI's Johnny Blades, Mr Bimantara opined "I don't think they qualify to be a full member of the MSG. They are not a state, and as opposed to Kanaks, they are not on the C24 (UN) Decolonisation Committee, they are not on the list, West Papua. And also the separatist group does not obtain full support from all the West Papuans. And West Papua and Papua is also politically free, so there's no reason for the MSG to accept them as full members."
This was disputed yesterday by Vanuatu's Foreign Minister. In an email exchange with the Daily Post, Mr Regenvanu wrote, "Well, that's for the MSG Leaders to decide once the application is presented to them.
"Technically, the ULMWP can meet the new criteria just agreed upon."
The issue, he wrote, would not be decided by the technicalities outlined by Indonesia's spokesman. "The question is only whether a political compromise can be achieved by the MSG Leaders before the next Summit at which the application for membership will be considered."
"Vanuatu is working on achieving this political compromise," he concluded.
Mr Regenvanu has been an outspoken supporter of West Papuan Independence movement. One of his last acts as Lands Minister before he took up the Foreign Affairs portfolio was to facilitate a grant of land to provide the United Liberation Movement for West Papua a permanent headquarters in Port Vila.
A ULMWP statement following the announcement of Mr Regenvanu's appointment to the portfolio said that it "is certainly a very effective state policy closely linked to the direction of the effective support of... Vanuatu for the West Papuan independence struggle."


2) Papua election candidates' indigenousness confirmed
2:58 pm today 

The Papuan People's Assembly in Indonesia has cleared the indigenous credentials of candidates for the upcoming provincial gubernatorial elections.

After days of postponement, the Papua Elections Commission announced that incumbent Lukas Enembe and challenger John Wempi Wetipo would compete in June's election for Governor.
According to the Jakarta Post, Papua province was late in submitting candidates' verification documents to the Commission.
The 2001 Special Autonomy Law established by Indonesia in Papua stipulates that all candidates for Governor, and their running mates, must be indigenous Papuans.
The Assembly has conducted a factual verification on the candidates and confirmed they all originate from Papua.

3) West Papua Liberation Army in fresh campaign against Indonesia
12:26 pm today 
The West Papua National Liberation Army's central command in the Papuan Highlands has made a fresh declaration of war against Indonesian military.
The Liberation Army is the armed wing of the Free West Papua Movement. Since forming in the early 1970s after Indonesia took control of West Papua, the army has been waging a sporadic guerilla campaign for independence with limited weaponry.
However, it's been linked to a spate of skirmishes with Indonesian security forces in the Highlands region of Papua province in the past few months.
It claimed responsibility for the killing of an Indonesian soldier in remote Puncak Jaya regency last week.
The Army's recently appointed Chief of Field operations, Major General Telenggen Lekkagak, has issued a new declaration about driving Indonesian forces out of Papua.

The Liberation Army also wants to close the operations of foreign companies that are exploiting Papua's resources.
Major General Telenggen specifically mentioned the oil and gas multi-national BP with its gas project in Bintuni Bay, and the US mining giant Freeport which runs the massive Grasberg gold and copper mine in Mimika.
The Freeport mine, which is one of Indonesia's largest single sources of revenue, has long been the subject of West Papuan grievances over environmental and social impacts.
As well, Papuans have complained about not being consulted over the control of Freeport, and about not gaining any benefit from its lucrative operations.

Attacks by the Liberation Army on Indonesian security forces have often occurred in the area around Freeport, and have at times extended to attacks on the miner's infrastructure and personnel.
In the declaration, Major General Telenggen says that Papua's resources must be protected for the sake of West Papuan independence.
"As long as Indonesia occupies our homeland, the war's resistance continues until Papuan independence becomes real," read an English version of the Army's declaration.

He said that as of last month, the Liberation Army had ordered a general mobilisation of all its soldiers in Papua to carry out operations against what it calls "the invaders".
Although its membership has, in the past, been divided into various groups over West Papua's rugged interior, a spokesman for the Army says all of its wings are now united