Thursday, September 13, 2018

Summary of events in West Papua (9 Aug -14 Sept 2018)

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Summary of events in West Papua  (9 Aug -14 Sept 2018)

The 49th Pacific Islands Forum was held in  Nauru  from 3 to the 6th  September 2018. This years theme was “Building a strong Pacific: Our Islands, Our People, Our Will”. 


The Free West Papua Campaign called on people all across the Pacific to help “amplify the voices of West Papuans by raising as much awareness as possible and directly engaging your representatives on the issue of West Papua. There is only one key message for Pacific Islands Forum Leaders: West Papua’s fundamental right to self-determination must be brought back to the United Nations agenda”.

West Papua has been back on the agenda at the PIF over the past few years and this year received another small mention (and no doubt  with some opposition) in the PIF communiqué (Unscrubbed version).  From the communiqué in relation to West Papua.

West Papua (Papua)
33. Leaders recognised the constructive engagement by Forum countries with Indonesia with respect to elections and human rights in West Papua (Papua) and to continue dialogue in an open and constructive manner.

There was a lot of media coverage leading up to  the PIF with civil society groups/NGOs calling on the PIF leaders to take the issue of West Papua to the UN.

In a RNZ Pacific report (31 August) The executive director of the civil society umbrella group, PIANGO, or the Pacific Islands Association of Non Government Organisations, Emele Duituturaga, said they continue to be concerned with ongoing human rights violations in Indonesia's Papuan provinces. Ms Duituturaga said the issue of West Papua has been on the leaders agenda for decades without evident progress. She said PIANGO had raised its concerns over the last two years, but nothing had changed. Her organisation has called for a UN Special Rapporteur on West Papua to investigate continued human rights violations; support for a UN General Assembly Resolution to include West Papua on the UN Decolonisation List; and scrutiny of development co-operation with Indonesia and participation in the Pacific Island Forum. Selected people representing civil society will meet with Pacific leaders next week at the leaders' summit in Nauru.

AWPA also wrote to Foreign Minster Payne urging her and the PIF Leaders to continue to raise concern about the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian Government and to continue to press Jakarta to allow a PIF fact-finding mission to the territory as was suggested at the 46th PIF meeting in Port Moresby”.

Leading up to the PIF there were a number of rallies held in West Papua to show support for and urging the PIF leaders to support Vanuatu’s call to bring the issue of West Papua to the UN. The security forces arrested a large number of the peaceful demonstrators

AWPA called on the Pacific Islands Forum leaders to condemn the arrest of  up to 80 West Papuan activists by the Indonesian security forces.  The activists were holding a rally in support of the Pacific Islands Forum urging the PIF leaders to support Vanuatu’s call to bring the issue of West Papua to the UN. According to the ULMWP, 45 people were arrested in Sentani and 34 were reported arrested in Abepura. 

In a report (4 Sept) the Free West Papua Campaign said up to 100 Police including Intelligence Personnel and a number of members of Detachment 88 were involved in the operation. …………

The FWP Campaign also  reported that aboiut 50 members of the Bintuni community held a demonstration supporting Vanuatu to push for a Resolution for West Papua in the Pacific Islands Forum and the UN, Saturday (08/09/2018). The  march with a West Papuan flag began at the Tubi Bridge at 08:00.  Indonesian police officers arrived immediately and dispersed the crowd and seized the West Papuan flag. Up to 15 people were arrested.

Vanuatu will continue West Papua initiative
Despite the lack of formal endorsement from this week’s Pacific Island Forum in Nauru, Vanuatu will continue an initiative to have West Papua re-listed as a non-self-governing territory at the United Nations. Vanuatu has asked Forum member states to support a proposed resolution to the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, to recognise the right of West Papuan self-determination and relist West Papua with the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation. Forum states like Nauru, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu backed a similar initiative in 2013, which saw French Polynesia re-listed with the UN Special Committee in the face of French opposition at the UN General Assembly. Speaking to Islands Business and Pacnews in Yaren this week, Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu said: “We didn’t come to the Forum with the intention to have a resolution, because we know we won’t get it. All we are doing is bring it to the attention of the members and ask them for their support. So far there are indications that we will get the support of the majority of Forum members.” 
Full report  by Islands Business correspondent Nic Maclellan, at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru at

If Vanuatu does not speak for West Papua, then who will?: Lini
By Godwin Ligo 25 Aug.  
Since her appointment as the Special Envoy on Decolonization of West Papua to the Pacific Island States, Lora Lini spoke exclusively to the Daily Post about how she sees her role and the importance of the position entrusted upon her by the Vanuatu Government. But first, she says that it is the present government who recognizes the importance of taking the West Papua issue further and to a higher level via a United Nations Resolution for West Papua. Ms Lini says past governments and civil society organizations of Vanuatu have maintained the country’s stand for the West Papua since Vanuatu’s independence in 1980. But the issue of West Papua has reached another level and the present government also recognizes the struggle of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and other organizations that support and work together with the Movement for the cause of West Papua self- determination. “My role as Special Envoy on the Decolonisation of West Papua to the Pacific Island States is to bring to the attention of member states of the Pacific Islands Forum Vanuatu’s intention to table a UN Resolution for the decolonization of West Papua.”.............

Indonesia is becoming so concerned at the increasing support for West Papua in the Pacific it has proposed a diplomatic campaign to influence the Pacific countries to change their position on West Papua.

Indonesia proposes funding Papua diplomacy in Pacific
RNZ Pacific 6 September 2018 
Indonesia's government is proposing $US4 million in funding towards influencing Pacific Island countries to change their position on Papua.
The Kompas newspaper reports the country's top security minister, Wiranto, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, saying the money would be used to finance soft diplomacy efforts in the South Pacific. He said a lot of countries in the region get misinformation about Indonesia's attitude towards Papua and that actually Jakarta was promoting development there. The proposed budget would be used to improve the image of Papua and increase Indonesian engagement in the Pacific, including border security and security intelligence cooperation.

Wiranto said Indonesia had invited Nauru President Baron Waqa and Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai to see the positive work in Papua for themselves.
Nauru and Vanuatu have called for investigations into alleged human rights abuses in West Papua at the United Nations but have softened their tone in recent months.Mr Waqa met with Wiranto in Nauru in February and voiced support for Indonesia's development of Papua. And an April visit by a Solomon Islands delegation to Papua caused an upset among staunch advocates in the traditionally pro-Papuan independence country. In his comments this week, Wiranto said countries promoting Papuan independence at the United Nations had to be dealt with.

From the region.

New Zealand recognizes West Papua as part of Indonesia

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported (28 August ) that New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters says his country recognizes West Papua as a part of Indonesia. He made this comment when asked about New Zealand’s stand on the West Papua issue where Vanuatu is spearheading efforts in support of West Papua, during his recent visit to Port Vila. “If you were the examine the economic and social condition of West Papua per capita as opposed to PNG, even PNG would acknowledge that their (West Papua) performance is higher than PNG’s. 

Fiji opposition leader says govt betraying West Papua
RNZ Pacific 28 August 2018 
The Fiji opposition leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, says the government has to stop its betrayal of the people of West Papua. 

                                         Ro Teimumu Kepa (centre) with staff flying the West Papua flag. Photo: supplied 

She is urging the government to strongly support the inclusion of the territory on the United Nations' decolonisation list. Ro Teimumu said Vanuatu had taken a courageous decision to seek freedom for the West Papuans through the UN and Fiji and other regional governments should demonstrate solidarity with this cause. She said she saluted Vanuatu prime minister, Charlot Salwai, for showing real leadership, and for being a true Melanesian brother to the West Papuan people. Ro Teimumu said a SODELPA-led government would put its weight behind West Papua. She said Fiji's leader Frank Bainimarama was an outspoken advocate for Melanesian unity but he is stabbing the indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua in the back by refusing to support their quest for independence.

PNG, Indon Ties Going Stronger, Says Pato
August 28, 2018 BY MATTHEW VARI
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Rimbink Pato has reminded those set on displacing the country’s connections with its closest neighbour Indonesia that both have a solid relationship. He said the struggles of Indonesia to reach its current position and standing today after 73 years, sees it poised to be one of the great economies of the world in the next few years. “Of course there are others who have all manners of views to displace the trust and confidence and relationship between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea,’’ he said. “Let me remind them that the relationship between Papua New Guinea is very strong and is growing from strength to strength.’’

“Of course it is through the support of Indonesia in 2014 when it hosted APEC in Bali that PNG was given the opportunity at the encouragement and support of the Republic of Indonesia to host APEC this year. “It is Indonesia’s support that has given PNG a special observer member of ASEAN nations.” He said such opportunities and challenges only arise between close friends. Mr Pato said in the spirit of agreements, PNG respects the commitment of the government of Indonesia to take a focused development approach to border issues. “We have in recent years signed on multiple memorandums of understandings to enhance the relationship of our two countries, that is very important very much so in the border regions,’’ Mr Pato said. “We believe that through economic development, close cooperation and friendship through respectful discussion and dialogue we will advance the living conditions of the people on both sides of the border. “We have been steadily improving conditions on this side and we know that Indonesia has been doing the same.

Parkop wants West Papua issue dealt with


NATIONAL Capital District Governor Powes Parkop has called on Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato not to shy away from discussing the West Papua issue on the international stage.
“It is important that we talk about the West Papua issues with the Indonesian Government and at the international forum,” he said.
“We have to address it openly and maturely. And I would like to see an open and mature type of discussion to take place.”
Parkop was responding to Pato’s ministerial statement in Parliament yesterday. “We are supposed to have a robust relationship with Indonesia because they are our immediate neighbors,” Parkop said.
“We should have integrated our economy. We should have closer people-to-people relationship. After all we are two countries sharing a land border.
“But we don’t have that relationship. And it is because there is a sore point (West Papua issue) and we must address that sore point. And I want to thank the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for trying his best to address that sore point.”
He said the leadership of Indonesia under former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was open.
“But now we have a President Joko Widodo. We are not sure of his leadership on the West Papua issue.”
He said he had always supported what the West Papuans were fighting for.
“I have strong points about it,” Parkop said.
“It has been part of my life and I want us to progress it to a point.

Amnesty International released an U/A that people can respond to.
7 September 2018, Index number: ASA 21/9048/2018
A peaceful pro-independence Papuan activist, Agustinus Yolemal, was detained and charged for posting a video on Facebook. He was charged with “disseminating hostility against the state ideology” under the Law on Electronic Information and Transaction. If convicted, he would face a penalty of up to six years’ imprisonment. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released.

In a Written Submission by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), to the 39th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council,  the ALRC presented five example cases of arbitrary arrest and detention that occurred in Papua to prove the repetition of unlawful detention:
Indonesia. Arbitrary arrest and detention in Papua must be ended; the Rule of Law must be amplified

TAPOL and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) also called for the immediate release of Simon Carlos Magal and Jakub Fabian Skrzypski and in the event that Mr. Skrzypski is prosecuted, we call on all representative parties to ensure that he is afforded a fair trial. 
Joint statement at

Also a public statement  by Amnesty. 
6 September 2018, Index number: ASA 21/9040/2018
Amnesty International is concerned about attempts by the Indonesian authorities over the last few weeks to ban public events and peaceful assemblies relating to the political opposition’s campaign to call for the public to select new president in the next year election. These actions are a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The government of Indonesia must immediately end all forms of unlawful restrictions on public discussions and peaceful assembly organised by the political opposition.

49 West Papuan students released after police questioning
RNZ Pacific17 August 2018 

The protesters were arrested and held in the Surabaya police station. Photo: Facebook/ Free West Papua Campaign
All 49 West Papuan university students taken in for police questioning in the Indonesian city of Surabaya have been released, according to a legal aid group.

The incident on Wednesday night came on the anniversary of the transfer of administration over West Papua to Indonesia. Before being taken in by police, the students had reportedly planned an event to discuss the anniversary of 1962's New York Agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia regarding the administration of West New Guinea.
The plans were disrupted when the Papuans clashed with a group from Indonesia's nationalist Pancasila movement. The group converged on the Papuans' dormitory and demanded the Indonesian flag be raised ahead of the country's independence day today.
Abdul Wachid, the director of the Surabaya Legal Aid Foundation, says police interrogated the students for 10 hours, before releasing them the next morning. The water supply at the Papuan students' dormitory was cut off yesterday afternoon, said Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman. The Indonesian government claimed they had not paid the water bill, said Ms Korman, but the dormitary is state-owned and the government normally pays its water bills.

Jayapura Police interrogate students regarding morning star ‘noken’

Students of STIKOM Muhammadiyah Papua wore the morning star motive noken. – Jubi / Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – Jayapura Municipal Police Chief the Adjunct Senior Police Commissionaire Gustav R. Urbinas said, four students of STIKOM (Communication College), Muhammadiyah Jayapura are still be interrogated about the morning star ‘noken’ (Papuan traditional bag) in their campus. The students are Arnold Bame (BEM STIKOM Chairman), Fransiakus Bame (PKKMB Committee Chairman), Kamaliel Pahabol (BEM Deputy Chairman), Yutinus Murib (member of PKKMB Committee).

“They were temporarily asked to clarify the activity occurred in STIKOM Campus this afternoon,” the chief said on Tuesday (08/28/2018) in Jayapura.
After the interrogation, said the chief, the four students would send home. “And the police will continue investigating this case.” Meanwhile, a STIKOM alumnus Markus Imbiri said this investigation was ironic because the world has acknowledged noken as an indigenous inheritance, which gained ratification from UNESCO in Paris in 2004, and the Governor of Papua even encourage all Papuan citizens to wear noken. “Nowadays, students are advised to use noken since the first day of school orientation to respect it. Because some students were difficult to find other motives, they bought the morning star motive. Could it be said as separatism? If we use it, would Papua separate from the Republic of Indonesia?” Imbiri further said the similar incident occurred at the Faculty of Social Science of the University of Cenderawasih should be given enough lessons to students and people in Papua. (*)  Reporter: Hengky YeimoEditor: Pipit Maizier (Tabloid Jubi 3 Sept.)

Indonesia's military ordered to pursue Papua Liberation Army
Indonesia's miltary has ordered its forces to pursue the Papua National Liberation Army after it reportedly killed two soldiers in an ambush. Armed with guns and bows and arrows, members of the group shot dead two officers in Puncak Jaya regency on Sunday. The Jakarta Post reported Major General George Supit from a local command saying soldiers should be more cautious and chase the Liberation Army. The military said the incident on Sunday occurred when soldiers were heading to a village which had requested food in exchange for firearms. (RNZ Pacific 21 August)

Church leaders want more protection for native Papuans
Development in Indonesia's poorest province is only really benefiting a growing migrant population
UCAN News Ryan Dagur, Jakarta  Indonesia  September 13, 2018

 Indigenous Papuans in Sorong, West Papua province, commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day on Aug. 8. (Photo supplied by Pusaka)

 Church leaders and activists in Indonesia's restive Papua province have called on the government to control an influx of migrants and focus on the development of indigenous people.Although there has been progress in developing the province under President Joko Widodo, which has included the construction of roads, ports, airports and the opening of plantation projects, indigenous Papuans are still shackled by poverty, they said.Benefits from those projects are being felt more by migrants than local people, they added."The president has often visited Papua and encouraged development but that does not answer the needs of indigenous Papuans," Father Anselmus Amo, who heads Merauke Archdiocese's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission, told on Sept. 12.

At the last census in 2010, indigenous Papuans comprised 49 percent of the province's 2.8 million population. However, that ratio has declined, with the migrant population growing at a rate of 10.8 percent per year compared with the native Papuan population growth rate of 1.8 percent. Since 2002, Jakarta has disbursed US$45.1 million to support special autonomy status in Papua. However, Father Amo said no specific steps have been taken to protect indigenous people. It is also the poorest out of 34 provinces in a country where more than a quarter of the population, most of them indigenous people, are living below the poverty line.

Father Amo said the government should look at controlling the influx of outsiders because they now not only dominate the local economy but also local administration. "We continue to push for positive policies — for example, to allow only Papuans to be civil servants," he said. "There must also be a provision for a percentage of people born and raised in Papua to be employed in companies. It must be done so that people think twice before coming to Papua." 

Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika said programs previously geared toward indigenous Papuans, such as education and healthcare, need to be bolstered. "Those in need of help first are indigenous Papuans," news portal quoted him as saying. Yosafat Leonard Franky, spokesman of Pusaka, a nongovernmental organization focusing on indigenous people's rights, said new infrastructure and the opening of various plantations have not brought much change for indigenous communities. "They do not even get fair compensation for their lands," he told Rev. Socrates Sofyan Nyoman, a prominent Protestant figure in Papua, said Jakarta risked stoking separatist sentiments further by not looking out for native people's needs. "If there is no change from one regime to another, resistance will continue," he said.

Opinion pieces/reports/press releases etc.

 ‘Rockin for West Papua’ global peace concert – October 2018
Announcing our biggest music event ever!

Rockin For West Papua is an international series of Music & Arts events in association with Rize of the Morning Star, where artists and individuals use music and art to raise awareness of the freedom struggle and human rights abuses of the indigenous people of West Papua. Now in it’s third year, with an ever growing group of AWESOME artists from around the world ‘Rockin for West Papua’ the month of October 2018 is set to be the biggest global peace concert yet.

 Rockin for West Papua Facebook page 
DFAT reply to AWPA letter (18 July) to Australian Foreign Minister.
AWPA release +letter at

The UK’s involvement in the Papuan crisis

New faces and absent friends in Pacific diplomacy

New Caledonia: boycotts and blockade


1 comment:

  1. An excellent Update. Maybe for the benefit of the solidarity network, should include progress made by ULMWP and the situation of the Networks in the region. Special attention should also be given to the Solidarity network in Indonesia itself (Veronika's Group). Veronika has been threatened every day with death. Should ask Police to protect her.