Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summary of events in West Papua -June

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Summary of events in West Papua  (11 June-10 July 2018)

New Amnesty International report
A new Amnesty International report claims that the Indonesian security forces have unlawfully killed at least 95 people in little more than eight years in the eastern provinces of Papua and West Papua, with the majority of perpetrators never being held to account for the crimes. 

From AI UK media release (2 July)
The report, “Don't bother, just let him die": Killing with impunity in Papua, describes how police and soldiers have shot dead peaceful independence activists and protesters, as well as dozens of other Papuans in non-political contexts, including a mentally-disabled young man. Killings have shown no sign of letting up since President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo took office in 2014, despite his promises to prioritise human rights in Papua.

Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director, said:
“Papua is one of Indonesia’s black holes for human rights. This is a region where security forces have for years been allowed to kill women, men and children, with no prospects of being held to account.
“Our research reveals that almost 100 people have been unlawfully killed in little more than eight years – about one person every month. This is a serious blot on Indonesia’s human rights record. “Now is the time to change course – unlawful killings in Papua must end. This culture of impunity within the security forces must change, and those responsible for past deaths held to account.”

In an opinion piece in the Jakarta Post (2 July) Usman wrote
“The tactics used by the country’s security forces may have changed since the fall of military rule in 1998, but in Papua — Indonesia’s easternmost, restive region — deadly violence from the use of excessive force by police and military personnel remains a constant threat “

“The deadly tactics used by security forces remain unchanged, but the victims of unlawful killings in Papua are increasingly peaceful political activists and non-political protesters. Our report reveals that the use of unnecessary or excessive force, including firearms, in policing non-political public assemblies and public disorder in Papua has resulted in deaths, which has not happened elsewhere in the country. Security forces must review their training, equipment, regulations and tactics in policing public assemblies in Papua”.  http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/07/02/unlawful-killings-still-reality-in-papua.html

PNG PM urges Pacific countries to take Papua issue to UN
RNZI 7:43 pm 10 July
Papua New Guinea's prime minister has reportedly encouraged regional countries to take the issue of West Papua to the United Nations decolonisation committee.

Peter O'Neill made the comment while in Fiji where he was the keynote speaker at a public lecture  on "Pacific Regionalism".
The Fiji Times reports that when asked whether Indonesian-ruled Papua, or West Papua, could be part of Pacific regionalism, Mr O'Neill admitted it was a sensitive subject for PNG. However he pointed out that West Papua was part of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and has participated in regional discussions.
In recent years members of the MSG, notably Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, as well as other Pacific countries, have been vocal about West Papua in international fora.

Their concern centres on violations against the basic human rights of West Papuans, and claims that Papuans have been denied a legitimate self-determination process. Mr O'Neill said PNG had been speaking frankly to Indonesia's government about issues of human rights abuses in Papua region. But he said PNG urged regional members who were concerned about West Papua to take the issue up at the UN. According to the Fiji Times,  Mr  O’Neill said. PNG was encouraging that this be put to the UN decolonisation committee.
It's not the first time Mr O'Neill has spoken about his country's concerns about human rights abuses in neighouring West Papua, although his government officially supports Indonesian sovereignty on the western half of New Guinea.
However two years ago, Mr O'Neill expressed  PNG's desire for West Papuans to have more autonomy. The Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua were granted Special Autonomy Status by Jakarta in 2001.

Biak Massacre 
The 6 July was the 20 anniversary of the Biak Massacre. 

On the 2 July in 1998, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised on top of a water tower near the harbour in Biak. Large numbers of people gathered beneath it singing songs and holding traditional dances. As the rally continued, many more people in the area joined in with numbers reaching up to 500 people. On the July 6 the Indonesian security forces attacked the demonstrators, massacring scores of people. The victims included women and children who had gathered for the peaceful gathering. They were killed at the base of the water tower. Other Papuans were rounded up and later taken out to sea where they were thrown off naval ships and drowned. No member of the security forces have ever been charged over the killings in Biak.

The Free West Papua campaign called on supporters around the world to commemorate the tragedy .

Photos of  Sydney Commemoration and media release at
Background. The Biak Massacre Citizens Tribunal http://www.biak-tribunal.org

Indonesia police say raid on Papuan students due to planned film screening
Police in Indonesia say they raided a student dormitory in the East Java capital of Surabaya on Saturday because Papuan students were allegedly planning to screen the film Bloody BiakThe Suara news website reported that police prevented a planned screening of the film about the 1998 massacre of around 200 Papuans by Indonesian security forces in Biak. It was replaced by a screening of the football World Cup. The raid was conducted by about 100 police and military personel and followed police action last week at Malang's Brawijaya University in East Java.
On 1 July, police reportedly stopped Papuan students marking the 47th anniversary of the 1971 proclamation of independence by the Free West Papua Movement. RNZI 9 July

Another  anniversary was the 1 July when  the Proclamation of the Republic of West Papua in 1971 was made. As a protest against the fraudulent Act of “Free” Choice in July / August 1969, brigadier-general Seth J. Rumkorem and Jacob Henderik Prai (Chairman of the Senate), proclaimed the independence of the Republic of West Papua on 1 July 1971. Others who singed the proclamation were; Mr. B.M Tanggahma, Mr. F.T.J. Jufuway, Mr. D. Maury, Mr. H. Womsiwor, Mr. D. Kereway and Mr. S.T. Tan. The proclamation has been declared in Port Numbay, in the headquarter of Markas Victoria. The Papuans decided to proclaim the Morning Star Flag as the National symbol; they did the same with the national anthem (Hai Tanahku Papua) and state seal (One People One Soul).

New West Papuan Desk Auckland
A growing grassroots solidarity network has prompted the establishment of a West Papua Desk in New Zealand. The desk was officially opened this evening in Auckland by Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and fellow MP Golriz Ghahraman.  

According to Ms Davidson, the desk would be a hub for organising events, hosting international guests and raising awareness about issues around West Papuan independence aspirations and human rights violations in Indonesian ruled Papua.  (RNZI 12 June)

The UN General Assembly elected Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa to serve as non-permanent members on the Security Council for two years starting in January.

West Papua issue could attract more attention after Indonesia's promotion to UN Security Council By Nick Fogarty on Pacific Beat
Now that Indonesia has been elected to the UN Security Council for a two-year term starting in 2019, observers of the situation in West Papua are hoping that additional power will generate extra scrutiny on Jakarta and its relationship with the disputed province.As the Free West Papuan movement continues its decades-long struggle for independence and highlights ongoing human rights abuses, Indonesia say they hope to use their new position at the UN to work on conflict resolution and peace-building.
A co-founder of the West Papua Project at Sydney University, Dr Jim Elmslie, says Indonesia's promotion on the international stage is an important development that puts the South-East Asian nation firmly in the spotlight.
Duration: 3min 21sec Broadcast: Wed 13 Jun 2018, 6:00am

Indonesia yet to allow UN Commissioner into Papua
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern at not yet being able to visit Indonesia's Papua region. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told a meeting of the Human Rights Council he was concerned the government's invitation to visit Papua had still not been honoured. In his global update on human rights issues, Mr Al Hussein said he had been invited to visit Papua during his visit to Indonesia in February. There had been positive engagement by the Indonesian authorities in many other respects, Mr Al Hussein said. (RNZI 19 June)

According to Phelim Kine of Human Rights watch, 
The Indonesian government’s apparent unwillingness to allow Zeid to investigate human rights conditions in Papua should come as no surprise. Indonesian authorities have consistently blocked foreign journalists and rights monitors from visiting Papua. Those restrictions defy an announcement made in 2015 by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo – popularly known as Jokowi – that accredited foreign media would have unimpeded access to Papua. The decades-old access restrictions on  Papua are rooted in government suspicion of the motives of foreign nationals for reporting on the region, which is troubled by a small-scale pro-independence insurgency, widespread corruption, environmental degradation, and public dissatisfaction with Jakarta. Security forces are rarely held to account for abuses against critics of the government, including the killing of peaceful protesters. 

New military counter-terrorism unit arrests 5 West Papuans, says Jubi
Five civilians in Timika have reportedly been arrested by the newly reactivated military counter-terrorism unit for “aspiring” to West Papuan independence.
“At 10pm on Saturday June 9, Orpa Wanjomal (40) and his stepchild Polce Sugumol (31) were arrested at their home in the SP 2 [housing unit] in Timika,” United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) spokesperson Jakob Rumbiak said yesterday. “Five hours later, at 3am in the morning, on Sunday June 10, Titus Kwalik was arrested at the SP 10. “At the same time Julianus Dekme (31) and Alosius Ogolmagai (49) were arrested at Julianus’ house at the SP 6. The five civilians were arrested for aspiring to Papuan independence.”
Rumbiak said that the Joint Special Operations Command (Koopssusgab) was involved in the arrests. The Koopssusgab is a joint military counter-terrorism unit, which was recently reactivated in concert with revisions to the Anti-Terrorism Law, and is under the direct authority of Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.....

 Shooting incidents
The Jakarta Post reported  (Thursday 28 June)  that an unidentified armed group launched a shooting attack in Papua on Wednesday 27 June , the second attack in the region in the wake of the Papua gubernatorial election.Torere district head Obaja Froaro was killed when unknown armed assailants allegedly shot at a speedboat he was on, on Wednesday at around 4 p.m. local time in Torere in Puncak Jaya, a regency in Papua's restive central highlands."The Torere district head was by criminal armed group while transporting the Torere people's ballot boxes right after the voting," Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said in Jayapura on Thursday.Two police officers, who were on board the same speedboat, went missing in the ambush.

In  an earlier  incident  a Twin Otter aircraft carrying election material and police personnel was fired on by unidentified assailants shortly after it landed at Kenyam Airport in Nduga regency on Monday.The pilot suffered a gunshot wound to his back, and three residents died in an ensuing firefight between the gunmen and security personnel, the authorities said. (stu/ipa)Tempo (30 June) reported  that the Papua Police deployed  100 personnel to search for the missing police along the Mamberamo Raya river. During the search a police officer named Brigadier Sinton Kabarek, who is part of the Puncak Jaya Police Bhayangkara Samaptha, was found dead. "We found him dead in Mamberamo River. It is far from the location of the shootout," he noted at the Kalibata Cemetery Park, Jakarta, on Monday. 

West Papua activists stopped by Solomons police
RNZI 9 July

Ben Didiomea displays the West Papuan flag as Indonesian staff try to usher him away.  Photo: Facebook/ Ben Didiomea

Solomon Islands police says they confiscated a West Papuan flag at the Melanesian Arts Festival to stop any provocation aimed at the Indonesian delegation.

Ben Didiomea had his flag taken by police over the weekend after he held it up in front of Indonesia's festival stall to protest its inclusion at the event.
A video on Facebook shows Mr Didiomea - who was part of a   group of demonstrators - holding up West Papua's Morning Star flag as Indonesian officials tried to move him away from the stall.
He was then approached by Solomon Islands Police who confiscated the flag.
Mr Didiomea said he had been standing in solidarity with fellow Melanesian people of Indonesia's Papua region, where the Morning Star is banned.
He said the Melanesian Arts Festival, which Honiara hosted over the last ten days, was not intended as an Asian festival.

Police issued a statement saying the flag was removed to prevent provocation of the Indonesians, reminding the demonstrators that it was not a political event.
Mr Didiomea, who along with two other demonstrators was questioned by police, said the inclusion of Indonesia at the Arts Festival was a political move by the Solomons government. "Because it was a festival of Melanesia, Indonesia is not part of Melanesia. So why does it need an Indonesia stall at the arts festival? It's a Melanesian festival, so what are Indonesia coming to arts festival?"

Changing relationship
According to Mr Didiomea, the police action was a sign that the country was forming a closer relationship with Indonesia.The Solomon Islands government under prime minister Rick Hou has recently shown signs that it was pursuing a different policy regarding West Papua to that of the previous prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Mr Sogavare, who is now the deputy prime minister, campaigned internationally about West Papuan human rights issues. He was also supportive of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and instrumental in its admission to the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 2015. However after he was replaced by Mr Hou late last year, the Solomons government has been notably less vocal about West Papua human rights issues in international fora. A visit in April by a Solomons delegation to Indonesia's provinces of Papua and West Papua at the invitation of Jakarta was billed as having added "balance" to the government's view on West Papuan issues. The Solomons government told RNZ Pacific in May that it was consulting with the provinces as it formulated an official position on West Papuan human rights and self-determination issues.

Gold prospectors demand reopening of gold stores in Timika
Antara News Reporter: Evarianus Supar  22nd June 2018

Timika, Papua  (ANTARA News) - Thousands of traditional gold prospectors in the Kali Kabur river of Timika, Papua, demanded the reopening of gold shops, which had been the buyers of their gold dust in that area. The people, members of what they called Forum of Community of Gold Prospectors issued their demand in a rally in front of the office of the Mimika legislative body (DPRD) on Friday. "We asked the government to immediately find a solution and allow gold shops to operate again here," Simon Rahajaan, chairman of the forum said in Mimika, the municipal town on Friday. Simon said the traditional gold miners have been in difficulty to find buyers for their gold dust after gold shops were forced to stop operation in that area. Police closed down small gold shops in that area following the arrest of the owner of Toko Emas Rezki Utama, H Basri, at the Makassar airport recently. H Basri was arrested for taking a lot of gold bars from Timika, Simon said, adding after the incident other shop owners felt not safe in taking gold they bought from the gold prospectors to be resold outside Timika.

The government has to consider the fate of around 15,000 people of Timika make a living from panning for gold in the Kali Kabur river. The Kali Kabur river has been a disposal place for mining tailing by PT Freeport Indonesia, a U.S. gold and copper mining company operating in Papua. "We could not continue this life and feed our children and send them to school unless we could sell our gold dust. We have no other jobs other than panning for gold," Rony Leisubun , a depuity chairman of the Forum. The people said they are ready to cooperate with the district administration and PT Freeport to uncover who were responsible for the damage caused to the mining pipe of Freeport. "We gold prospectors panning for gold in the Kali Kabur river are not responsible for damaging the Freeport mining pipe as we have no access to the Freeport area,"Anis Werbetu, anothyer leader of the forum. Mimika DPRD speaker Elminus Mom said the gold prospectors are free to continue their activities at Kali Kabur river. "No regulation banning them from continuing their activities. Thousands of people make a living from panning for gold in the river," Elminus said He also asked the old gold shops to resume their business buying the gold dusts from the traditional gold miners. ***2** 
Editor: Otniel Tamindael


Eliezer Awom passed away, West Papuans drawn in sorrow

Eliezer Awom. – Jubi/Doc


Bernhard Marjen: West Papuan journalist and ex-policeman

Bernhard Marjen's funeral earlier this month. Image: Sincha Dimara/My Land, My Country blog

Opinion pieces/reports/press releases etc.

New Zealand’s Silence on West Papua’s ‘Slow Genocide’
See No Evil: New Zealand’s betrayal of the people of West Papua by Maire Leadbeater issues a challenge to New Zealanders to acknowledge and make right the consequences of our nation’s ‘selective diplomacy’ in the Pacific region.  This meticulously researched book uncovers the untold story of New Zealand’s unprincipled and often hypocritical approach to the struggle of the people of West Papua.  In the 1950s New Zealand supported self-determination for the former Dutch colony, but in 1962 opted to back Indonesia as it took over the territory….

How the black indigenes of West Papua are still fighting for independence since 1969

In a land hit by the resource curse, a new gold mine spooks officials

Singapore-based firm Wilmar accused of link to massive rainforest destruction in Papua, Indonesia

Papuan Fat Cats 


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