Wednesday, June 6, 2018

1) Why is New Zealand and the world turning its back on human rights abuses in West Papua?

2) Govt unhappy with Rumbiak’s comment
3) Grasberg’s waste management, has “always been controversial” : Freeport’s CEO

4) In conversation: Indonesian sectarianism

1) Why is New Zealand and the world turning its back on human rights abuses in West Papua? 
 Barbara Dreaver  1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent

Over the years, many graphic and violent images of torture and beatings have emerged from the Indonesia-controlled Melanesian island of West Papua.

video footage
Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver looks into the abuse of West Papuans by Indonesia. 
Source: 1 NEWS

News agencies and social media groups across the world have reported the alleged human rights abuses of the island’s native population by Indonesian soldiers.
Yet, the international community continues to ignore the plight of the West Papuan people.
Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver has covered the story of the West Papuan fight for independence from Indonesia for many years.
In this piece, she explores the reasons why Indonesia clings tightly to power of the island and shuts the rest of the world out, denying access to the island and its people.
She also looks at the close relationship New Zealand has with Indonesia, one our country’s strongest allies and trade partners.
Reporter: Barbara Dreaver  Produced by: Natalia Sutherland
Edited by: Luis G. Portillo

2) Govt unhappy with Rumbiak’s comment
06 June 2018  Author  Editor

The Government has expressed dismay at attempts by West Papualeader Jacob Rumbiak, to interfere and meddle in the country’s national affairs.
In a statement on Tuesday the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) said it strongly disproves the action of Mr Rumbiak.

It disputed the allegations, opinions, and interference by Mr Rumbiak in our national affairs, politics and foreign policies of Solomon Islands, a sovereign State, through the media. 

“Mr Rumbiak’s comments were purposely made to incite division in the leadership of the SIDCCG that is based on the issue of West Papua,” the statement added. 

“This misguided intent by a foreigner to attempt to divide and undermine the standing and solidarity of a legitimate government through the media will not succeed,” the statement said.

“Mr Rumbiak has no right to tell the people of Solomon Islands who should be their Prime Minister, nor does he has the right to determine who the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands should be.”

Solomon Islands is a sovereign nation and only Solomon Islanders can determine who should be their Prime Minister and that can only happen through the democratic election process, the statement added.

“If he thinks that he can come secretly into Solomon Islands when the Prime Minister is out of the country, purposely to create division and disharmony in the Government and amongst Solomon Islanders, then he better think again,” it said.

The statement added Solomon Islands has diplomatic relations with the Republic of Indonesia which was formalized in July 1983. 

“A Solomon Islands Diplomatic Mission was established in Jakarta on 5 August, 2014. This Mission was operational during the previous DCCG government, continuing on with the present SIDCCG government.” 

It added that as an upstanding member of the United Nations, Solomon Islands upholds the tenets of international relations enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including those on respect of sovereignty and non-interference.  

“Solomon Islands has always acknowledged that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia.  Solomon Islands also acknowledges that West Papua is one of five Melanesian regions in Indonesia.

“Solomon Islands will continue to pursue issues concerning West Papua through both the relevant national mechanisms in Indonesia as well as at the relevant international institutions and forums, as and when appropriate.” 

The statement said SIDCCG’s foreign policies will continue to be guided and determined by Solomon Islands’ own national interest and those of its peoples. 

“As a sovereign nation, Solomon Islands will continue to vigorously protect these interests. 

“The Solomon Islands Government will not allow these interests to be usurped and dictated by foreign individuals like Jacob Rumbiak,” it said.
3) Grasberg’s waste management, has “always been controversial” : Freeport’s CEO
Published 21 hours ago on 6 June 2018 By admin
Jayapura, Jubi – Every year, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. dumps tens of millions of tons of mining waste into the Ajkwa River system in Indonesia. The company has been doing it for decades, and is demanding the right to keep at it for decades to come.
The discharge of what are called tailings, the leftovers of mineral extraction, is perfectly legal under Freeport’s current contract with the government. But recently, after more than a year of tense negotiations over the terms of a new deal, Indonesia suddenly changed the rules: The Grasberg mine in the highlands of Papua province would have to operate by heightened standards. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, really, considering most every other miner in the world has been forced or has elected to stop discarding tailings in rivers.
Freeport, though, has said that won’t happen at Grasberg. Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson has been blunt about it. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” he said in April. “You simply can’t say 20 years later ‘we’re going to change the whole structure’.” Grasberg’s waste management, he added, has “always been controversial.”
The tailings tussle is the latest twist in the complicated relationship between the mining giant and the Southeast Asian republic. How it plays out will have far-reaching consequences in Indonesia. Freeport is a major taxpayer and job provider and has built homes, schools and hospitals in one of the poorest provinces. But Grasberg has also long been a target for environmentalists, indigenous and separatist groups and human-rights watchdogs.
At stake for Freeport are reserves that Bloomberg Intelligence estimates to be worth $14 billion at the world’s biggest gold deposit and second-largest copper mine. Grasberg accounted for 47 percent of Freeport’s operating income in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“What happens at Grasberg has global significance,” said Payal Sampat, the mining program director at the mining watchdog-group Earthworks. “It involves some of the largest global players in the mining industry and one of the leading mining economies.”
Most countries have banned tailings deposits in waterways over concerns they can be toxic, destroying habitats, suffocating vegetation and changing the topography of rivers, causing floods. Most miners have said they’re against the practice regardless of local rules. The industry’s biggest, BHP Billiton Ltd., won’t “dispose of mined waste rock or tailings into a river or marine environment,” as the company put it in a statement.

‘Environmental Burden’

Only two other industrial-scale mines — and a third, small operation — are known to get rid of tailings as Grasberg does, and they’re in Papua New Guinea, which occupies half of the island of New Guinea; Indonesia owns the rest, which is home to the Freeport-run mine. In recognition of risks that could leave “a massive environmental burden for future generations,” the practice has been phased out everywhere else, according to the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization.

Freeport sees things differently. “As we have stated before, the tailings are benign,” said Eric E. Kinneberg, a spokesman, referring to the corporate website for a detailed explanation.
The Phoenix-based company maintains that much of the sediment in the Ajkwa River system downstream from Grasberg is caused by natural erosion, and that tailings pose no significant — or at least unexpected — threats. “There have been no human health issues or impact on the environment that wasn’t anticipated,” Adkerson said on a quarterly earnings call in April.
The company’s partner in the Grasberg complex, Rio Tinto Group, recently addressed concerns about waste removal. “Riverine tailings disposal is very, very far from best practice,” Chairman Simon Thompson told a meeting in London in April, perhaps highlighting one of the reasons Rio may be willing to sell its 40 percent interest to a state-owned company for $3.5 billion. A spokesman for the company declined to comment for this story.
Rio declined 1.4 percent in Sydney trading, as an index of the country’s largest energy and mining companies fell 1.2 percent.

‘No Realistic Alternative’

“If you think about it from Rio Tinto’s perspective, one of the biggest problems with this mine is the environmental issues. I think that’s an incentive for Rio to get out,” said Christopher LaFemina, an analyst at Jefferies LLC. “This is a critically important part of Freeport’s overall value. For Rio Tinto, it’s not.”
The problem for Freeport and Indonesia is that there’s no easy solution. “There has been no realistic alternative identified,” Thompson said. Freeport’s local unit studied 14 alternatives for tailings disposal — including dams and pipelines — and concluded all were too risky in a mountainous terrain prone to earthquakes and heavy rainfall.
As it is, the heavy ooze wends its way through glacier-capped valleys, descending almost 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to tropical lowlands and a 230 square kilometer deposition zone, where roughly half the tailings are parked. The rest flows on to a river estuary and the Arafura Sea.
“The company has sacrificed not just the river, but also the coastal area,” said Pius Ginting, coordinator of Action for Ecology and People’s Emancipation, an Indonesian environmental group.

50 Million Tons

According to Earthworks, Freeport sends more than 76 million metric tons of tailings and waste rock into Indonesian rivers every year. The company puts the 2017 figure at 50 million tons. Without spelling out precisely how the requirement should be met, Indonesia told Freeport that it would boost to 95 percent from half the amount of tailings that must be recovered from the river system, according to Adkerson.
That was a shock that sent Freeport’s stock tumbling after Adkerson revealed it on April 24. Shares have largely recovered as investors bet the government will fail to follow through.
The negotiations to secure the right to keep mining Grasberg until 2041 had already been complicated by an edict that foreign miners sell majority stakes in their assets to local interests. Rio’s apparent interest in divesting would ease that problem for Freeport, reducing how much it would need to unload.

Stunning Asset

Even if its share dropped below 50 percent, Freeport as an operator could still win big — Grasberg is a stunning asset, expected to produce more than 520,000 tons of copper in 2018 and more gold than any other mine. Of course, Indonesia’s tailings mandate may be a negotiating tactic, as some Freeport investors said they suspect. Ilyas Asaad, inspector general at Indonesia’s Environment & Forestry Ministry, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The company is holding its position: The discharge of tailings into the river system is an inescapable consequence of keeping the mine in operation. If the government backs down, it will be “a political decision,” said David Chambers, a geophysicist who runs the U.S. nonprofit Center for Science in Public Participation. “There aren’t many governments that are willing to sacrifice those kinds of environmental resources for the financial resources.”
Few investors have publicly seized on the tailings mess as a reason to shun Freeport. One was Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, which in 2006 excluded Freeport from its investment universe and in 2008 sold its holding of about $850 million of Rio shares, citing Grasberg’s use of the river system to dispose of tailings.
“The spotlight has shone on these issues a lot more brightly in the last couple of years,” said Andrew Preston, head of corporate governance in Australia for Aberdeen Standard Investments, which owns shares in Rio and BHP. The “wake-up call,” Preston said, was the 2015 failure of a tailings dam at BHP’s Samarco iron-ore joint venture with Vale SA in Brazil. Billions of gallons of sludge escaped to travel hundreds of kilometers down the Doce river, killing at least 19 people and leaving hundreds homeless.
Jefferies’ LaFemina said investors are betting on the status quo in Indonesia. “In negotiations, different sides are trying to get leverage.” In the end, “I am not expecting there to be a significant change to how this asset operates.”
By Danielle Bochove and David Stringer


4) In conversation: Indonesian sectarianism
BY Matthew Busch
6 June 2018 12:00 AEDT

What are we to make of the relationship between religion and politics in Indonesia? Is Indonesia becoming more intolerant, or is intolerance becoming a more politically mainstream tactic?
Following the mass rallies against then Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in late 2016, and his subsequent conviction and imprisonment for blasphemy in 2017, it seemed that Islamic-inspired mobilisations and exclusivist politics would become a primary feature of a more confrontational and less democratic Indonesian politics.
This has yet to fully come to pass, however, and it is an open question whether such tactics will be successful in elections later this month, or during the 2019 general elections.
I discussed these issues with Asia Foundation Country Representative to Indonesia Sandra Hamid and Habibie Center Executive Director Rahimah “Ima” Abdulrahim during a series of events in SydneyCanberra, and Melbourne during 22–24 May. These events and their visit were generously supported by a grant from the Australia-Indonesia Institute.
Throughout the discussions, the panellists emphasised the importance of thinking about these issues in nuanced, evidence-driven ways. Sandra Hamid cautioned against interpolating too much from the scale of the anti-Ahok mobilisations:
If you are asking if the mass mobilisation is an indication of the rising intolerance, I think we are not looking at intolerance in a useful way, if you like. There are many surveys looking at intolerance in Indonesia, [asking questions such as] ‘Would you be willing to have a non-Muslim as your leader?’ That is what we need to be thinking about when we talk about the rising or falling of intolerance, rather than looking at mass movement.

The different conclusion is that this is going to be the feature of all elections in Indonesia, and this is not necessarily true either … In some areas it is already very clear that [those promoting sectarian politics] are not gaining ground. In [the June 2018 gubernatorial election in] Central Java, for example, Ganjar [Pranowo] is still very high [in opinion polls] compared with [his opponent] Sudirman Said, who is clearly using the same tactics. It is not as simple as that, and to see that as the barometer [of whether] Indonesians have gone into a dangerously intolerant movement – that is not useful. 
Ima Abdulrahim agreed, arguing that there were a variety of factors at play in Jakarta during late 2016:
You had a lot of people that came to the rally not really because of hatred of Ahok, but because their neighbour invited them. How they were invited was [with the question], ‘Do you love Islam, and do you love the Quran?’, and they went there because of that and not because of being anti-others, but because they wanted to show their love for their religion. I have spoken to people who went because it was a nice day for a picnic. Some were from small businesses whose owners support this and who told them to take the day off and go to the rally. You had a mixture of a lot of things, and definitely it is not an indication of what is happening. We have this habit of looking at intolerance as a Muslim/non-Muslim issue, but the issue of race is often overlooked in the recent discussions.
In the wake of these events, the government has sometimes chosen to present intolerance as a matter of poverty and inequality, but as Hamid pointed out, much evidence suggests that intolerant views are mostly on the rise among middle-class citizens:
What can Jokowi say? Blaming the economy is the easiest thing to do, but we know there are so many other things. How about the quality of Indonesian education, that we know does not promote critical thinking? You can graduate from university and have an important position in a company, and these are the people that are captured in the surveys as the middle-class people that hold intolerant views. One of the things is education, it is not only about poverty. They may be educated, but not really.
This also creates challenges for how to respond, as heavy-handed responses to intolerance, especially in a democratic society, risk alienating citizens on both sides. As Hamid described, with respect to a government-led effort to compile and publicise a list of approved preachers:
This is really in the eye of the beholder … the ones that are actually promoting intolerance are using hate speech to mobilise people, and the government hasn’t done anything vis-à-vis them, they are actually happy to see a more involved [government] and decisive decisions [made by the government]. I’ll give you an example. The Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a list of preachers that they think are good preachers. How do you have good preachers? These are the safe preachers. And then, of course, the other side gives a list: ‘These are the popular preachers that didn’t make it to the list’. And others would say, ‘Yes, these are the people that didn’t make it to the list because they are radicals’. But, what [should be] the government’s role? What are the parameters for a certain preacher [to not make the list]?
Across the events, the question of the government’s role in responding to hate speech and intolerance was an issue of spirited debate, with the panellists presenting different perspectives. Abdulrahim, while criticising the current approach, did believe there was a government role for transparency and certification:
On this question of certification of [religious leaders], for me it is not that you have to have a license to preach, but [that the certification can act] as an education and public awareness [tool, indicating] this ulema has a background in religious affairs and has the credentials to speak.

They have just released a list of 200 names that they consider good. And, again, that criteria of ‘good’ is sketchy. But, when the list came out, those that from our perspective are preaching intolerance, they see themselves now as victims, as marginalised. So, they say, ‘See, this is what the government [has done]’. And that is how they are trying to build influence and gather more supporters – by playing victim. Actually, a lot of the radical groups are now using democratic tools to say, ‘We are the ones being marginalised’. Again, this is why President Jokowi is [portrayed] as anti-Islam. The banning of Hizbut ut-Tahrir was seen as something [akin to] victimising Islam. So, heavy-handed responses are something we cannot use, because then you have a very fine line of who is actually in the right, and who is good and who is bad, and who ends up on the list.

My idea is something that is transparent, and not saying good or bad, but knowing where a person is coming from … whether they were in pesantren [boarding school] X, Y, or Z, where they went to university. My concern is how ‘fake ulema’ target upper middle-class women’s study circles. They are charming, and they can recite a few verses, but then when they speak it does not come from authority, and actually they are spewing something that is contrary to the teachings of Islam. A certification mechanism that is transparent and accountable, not saying who is good and who bad, but so that people who want to hire someone to come and speak to their group can know what their credentials are. We do that for our teachers, why can’t we do that for the people who are teaching us moral values?
(Passages have been paraphrased and edited for clarity and structure. Discussions on the same topic across two events have been combined.)

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