Monday, September 17, 2018

1) KNPB supports Kanaky for self-determination

2) Amnesty for prisoners of conscience is urgent
3) Vanuatu questions West Papua arrests at UN meeting
4) PNG and Indonesia cooperating on border development, says Pato

1) KNPB supports Kanaky for self-determination
Published 12 hours ago on 17 September 2018 By admin

                          KNPB and Gempar Papua activists at the Secretariat of Central KNPB. – Jubi / Hengky Yeimo

Jayapura, Jubi – Central West Papua National Committee (KNPB) held a limited discussion to support FKLNS (Organization of the Liberation Struggle of the Kanaky Tribe in New Caledonia) which has been well received by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to conduct a referendum in November 2018.
The First Chairman of Central KNPB Agus Kosay said it’s time for Kanaky to get self-determination from French colonialism.

“Kanaky must declare their self-determination. If Kanaky gets their independence, it would be able to give their support to West Papua because we share the same situation, which lives under the colonialism,” he said on Wednesday (08/12/2018) in Jayapura.
Meanwhile a member of Gempar (Papuan Youth and Student Movement) Nelius Wenda said as a nation oppressed by Indonesia, West Papua fully supports the referendum agenda of New Caledonia.
“Kanaky must determine their destiny. It must be far better than being under the French colonialism. In the future we Papuans are just like Kanaky,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Hengky Yeimo
Editor: Pipit Maizier
2) Amnesty for prisoners of conscience is urgent
Glenn Fredly
Jakarta | Mon, September 17, 2018 | 11:36 am
The remarks of renowned American philosopher John Dewey, “If you want to establish some conception of a society, go find out who is in gaol”, has been quoted many times to elaborate on the state of freedom in many parts of the world, including Indonesia.

Indeed, reports about people being imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their views or faith are rife in the country.

Looking closely at prisons in Indonesia today, at least 20 people have been locked up for peacefully expressing their views about religion and politics, according to Amnesty International. Eleven of them were charged with “blasphemy or defamation of religion” and the rest were peaceful pro-independence political activists.

Papua would probably quickly pop up in our minds when talking about the province with the highest number of imprisoned peaceful political activists. Indeed the easternmost province is home to an active armed pro-independence movement. In western Indonesia, such “insurgence” ended after the government secured a peace agreement with the Free Aceh Movement in 2005.

However, Amnesty International has also identified the underdeveloped province of Maluku, which currently has no record of an armed pro-independence movement, on top of the list of punishers of peaceful political activists. 

Eight people from Maluku are serving prison sentences for what the government calls makar (treason). They are Johan Teterissa, Ruben Saiya, Johanis Saiya, Jordan Saiya, John Markus, Romanus Batseran, Jonathan Riry and Pieter Yohanes. Their only offense is unfurling the Benang Raja flag, a symbol of the aspiration for Maluku’s independence, on June 29, 2007.

Johan was leading a group of 22 activists who performed the traditional war dance cakalele in front of then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the Maluku capital of Ambon, before they were all arrested for unfurling the flag.

If Indonesia respects rights to freedom of expression, they should not spend a single day in prison for such peaceful activity. Yet they were thrown behind bars for between 15 and 20 years. Johan was among those denied medical care while at least four of the activists died in prison. 

Amnesty International considers Johan and all those arrested like him prisoners of conscience, who are jailed for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Their arrests highlight the police’s failure to respect these rights.

Adding insult to injury, in March 2009, Johan and dozens of prisoners of conscience were transferred to prisons in Java, over 2,500 kilometers away from their home. The isolation meant family visits were almost impossible, which is unnecessary, costly and cruel on prisoners and their families.

On Nov. 28, 2016, I had a chance to visit Johan at a maximum security prison in Nusakambangan, Central Java, with the help of Amnesty International and the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute as part of a campaign to release all prisoners of conscience in Indonesia.

As a Maluku native, I have been enjoying the fruits of freedom in Indonesia after the fall of Soeharto in 1998 through my work as an artist. I have been able to freely express my thoughts through songs peacefully, but many in Maluku like Johan and other activists still lack this basic right to freely express political aspiration. This is why I am calling on the government to release Johan and his friends and grant them amnesty.

Johan and his friends posed no threats to the president when unfurling the “forbidden” flag, but the government at that time considered the act treason. Their arrests clearly tarnish Indonesia’s image as a free country. The administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo must correct this mistake to restore Indonesia’s so-called freedoms.

Differences in political views must be clearly respected and expressing it peacefully in public never constitutes a crime. There was recent progress when all the prisoners from Maluku were transferred to a prison in the province, enabling easier access to visits for their families. The transfer also means the administration is open enough to respect different political views.

However, relocating them to a Maluku prison is not enough. They must be granted amnesty. Through amnesty, the Jokowi administration could restore Indonesia’s image as a country where anyone can easily express their ideas freely through peaceful means without fearing criminal charges.

In early 2015, I had an opportunity to meet President Jokowi with other artists. I personally asked the President about the fate of political prisoners from Maluku and Papua. I was happy with his firm answer that he would free all political prisoners as soon as possible.

Shortly after, President Jokowi released and granted clemency to six Papuan political prisoners. I am sure the transfer of the Maluku political activists is part of his plan to release and grant them amnesty. By doing so the President will rebuild trust and public confidence in the eastern part of Indonesia in the government.

I personally believe the peaceful call for independence derives from political frustration among activists in Maluku. One important fact is that Aboru, the village where Johan and other Maluku activists are from, is still very much underdeveloped and neglected by the central and local government. The government must tackle the root causes instead of arresting them for peacefully expressing their political aspirations. The President must understand this background, so he would be convinced that granting amnesty is the right course of action to solve this case.

I am confident that President Jokowi will walk his talk to release and grant amnesty to all political prisoners in Papua and Maluku in the near future. So when he is asked “who is in gaol?” he can confidently say Indonesia no longer has political prisoners there.
The writer is a musician and campaigner for freedom of expression.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.


3) Vanuatu questions West Papua arrests at UN meeting

3:31 pm today 

Vanuatu has raised the issue of a West Papuan and a Polish citizen charged with treason in Indonesia at the United Nations.
Simon Magal and Jakub Skrzypski were arrested separately in August in Papua and police allege they were involved with an armed pro-independence group.

Vanuatu's representative to the UN, Noah Kouback, told a working group meeting on arbitrary detention and involuntary disappearances last week the charges were questionable.
"Vanuatu notes with concern raised the working group on indigenous populations failure to respond to its request for a visit, so we call on Indonesia to allow the UN special mechanism to ... and to report on the systemic ongoing problem."
Mr Kouback said it is also concerning 93 West Papuans were arrested in the first week of September for their involvement in peaceful protests.

4) PNG and Indonesia cooperating on border development, says Pato
10:24 am today 
Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister says economic and social development is already underway in the area around the border with Indonesia.
Rimbink Pato was responding to comments by National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop that PNG had not co-operated enough with neighbouring Indonesia.
Mr Parkop was particularly concerned that issues relating to the plight of West Papuans living under Indonesian rule weren't being addressed.
But Mr Pato said the two countries had forged a close relationships where all topics involving those pertaining to the border are discussed in a constructive way.
The minister said PNG had welcomed the Indonesian government policy under President Joko Widodo to take a development-led approach to the Papuan Provinces rather than a security-led approach.
He said this included close co-operation with PNG.
According to Mr Pato, Indonesia and PNG have agreed to intensify development efforts relating to schools, markets, health, the integration of the economy, and other areas.
"In fact, we have signed 13 Memoranda of Understanding with Indonesia that focus on developments and cooperation in the border areas," Minister Pato said.
"We have also welcomed Indonesia's participation in the UN Human Rights Council Periodic Review (UPR) in 2017 and that Indonesia accepted Australia's recommendation to finalise the investigation of all human rights cases in the Papuan provinces.
"Naturally we think it very important that human rights are upheld everywhere, including in our own country, and in Indonesia."
There is a steady level of interaction between Indonesia and PNG citizens who cross the border for education, to conduct business or attend to family matters.
"In July, for example, the Honourable James Donald MP, the Member for the North Fly electorate accompanied me to Jakarta where we discussed potential development and cooperation with Indonesia," Mr pato explained.
"Under this constructive approach we have the opportunity to raise all sorts of matters with each other, including advancing the rights and opportunities of everybody on both sides of the border.
"In many ways we need to catch up with the Indonesian level of development, and with their cooperation we will do our best to do so."
Minister Pato said there were some who called for public criticism of Indonesia but that was not PNG policy.
"The best way to resolve any issues is by friendly dialogue in which we raise matters with a problem-solving mind-set rather than a critical, negative attitude that leads nowhere.”

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