Sunday, October 7, 2018

Summary of events in West Papua (14 Sept - 8 October 2018)

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Summary of events in West Papua  (14 Sept - 8 October 2018)

Congratulations to the Pacific countries of Vanuatu, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands for raising the issue of West Papua at the 73rd session of the UN general assembly in New York. 

In a statement, Benny Wenda, Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) said,
History was once again made at the United Nations General Assembly last week, as the voice of the West Papuan people was amplified for the ears of the world to hear. Demonstrating enduring Pacific solidarity, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Republic of Vanuatu all spoke out in support of West Papua and the need for our cause to be returned to the United Nations. The Solomon Islands also voiced its concerns over human rights abuses and violations.

All nations, whether large or small, use the UNGA to address their most urgent needs and pressing issues. Therefore, the fact that Pacific nations prioritized West Papua in their UNGA addresses is a direct result of the growing, regional public outcry for West Papua, and testimony to our rising profile and solidarity from around the region. As the sixth consecutive year of support for West Papua at the UN General Assembly; the uprising of international support, diplomatic pressure, and mass public solidarity for West Papua continues to have impact and warrant a response. On behalf of the people of West Papua and the United Liberation Movement (ULMWP), I would like to hereby convey our deepest thanks, gratitude and respect to the governments of Vanuatu, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and many West Papuan friends around the world. Full statement at

What they said

Prime Minister of Vanuatu Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas
Madam President, the international community has witnessed violence and violations of human rights that have been suffered by the people of West Papua. We call on the Human Rights Council to investigate these human rights abuses.
We also call on our fellow leaders of the world to pay greater attention to these inhumane acts, and together with Indonesia, to put an end to all forms of violence and find common ground with the populations to establish a process that will allow them to freely express their choice.”  Video -Prime Minister Tabimasmas’ full speech here (West Papua mentioned just over 11min in).

Indonesia attacks Vanuatu in its right of replies2nd Right of Replyby Indonesia, at general debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly of the UN (New York, 25 September - 01 October 2018).

1st Right of Replyby Indonesia, at general debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly of the UN (New York, 25 September - 01 October 2018).

Vanuatu’s Right of Reply
First Declaration (1 October 2018)
The representative of Vanuatu expressed sympathy to Indonesia in the wake of the tsunami that recently affected the country. Regarding the issue of West Papua, he said that widespread human rights violations cannot be taken lightly. Indeed, the gross human rights violations being reported by international human rights organizations must be investigated thoroughly.
Source: GA/12073

Marshall Islands
Hilda Heine, the president of the Marshall Islands, said the recent Pacific Islands Forum had given support for the “constructive engagement” by forum countries with Indonesia on elections and human rights in West Papua.

"Decolonization and human rights are both important issues in the Pacific islands region. I strongly affirm the position of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in recognizing the constructive engagement by Forum countries with lndonesia with respect to -elecions and human rights in West Papua, and the commitment to continue dialogue in an open and constructive manner."

Prime Minister Hon Enele Sosene Sopoanga of Tuvalu
Likewise, our United Nations must engage with the people of West Papua to find lasting solutions to their struggles. 

Solomon Islands 
The Hon Rick Houenipwela MP
Solomon Islands recognises and respects Indonesia s sovereignty over its territorial boundaries. My Government commits to work with the Government of Indonesia on areas of mutual interest including human rights concerns in Papua and West Papua. 

Memo NZ: ‘Get on the right side of history’ over West Papua
By Pacific Media Centre - October 7, 2018
Vanuatu says New Zealand should get on the right side of history and support West Papuan self-determination. However, reports James Halpin of Asia Pacific Journalism, Indonesian diplomacy with its Pacific allies Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea are defiantly undermining Pacific “solidarity” on the issue.
Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu has called on New Zealand to get on the right side of history when it comes to West Papua.

 Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu ... "We achieved our [independence] and we will not forget our brothers-and-sisters-in-arms who have not got theirs.” Image: Vanuatu Daily Post

Reaffirming President Salwai’s remarks at the UN General Assembly late last month, Regenvanu told Asia Pacific Report that the “people of West Papua have never had the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination, which is an unalienable right under international law, and they must be given that opportunity”………..

West Papuan representatives lobbying at UN

67 West Papuans were arrested  following peaceful demonstrations  in support of Vanuatu bringing the West Papuan issue to the 73rd General Assembly of the UN.

                                                          Jayapura Police Station

A Chronology of the incidents on the ULMWP webpage at 

WEST PAPUA: More student arrests in Jayapura, report activists
A PMC report Friday, September 28, 2018 Item: 10241
JAYAPURA (Voice WestPapua/Pacific Media Watch): Eighteen more Papuan students have been arrested in a crackdown by Indonesian authorities in Jayapura, activists report. A social media dispatch from Voice Westpapua said: 
"We received urgent news that 18 students have been arrested. 
"Witnesses report that some have been taken away from the direction of the police station in Jayapura and are headed towards Koya. Also disturbing, another group has not been taken to the police station, but to an unknown location toward the beach in Abe. "Among those arrested is Pilipus Robaha, deputy chair of SONAMAPPA (National Solidarity Youth and Student Movement), who was interrogated by a Jayapura chief of police intelligence unit a few days ago."
This follows the reports of 67 Papuan students being arrested earlier in the week for taking part in demonstrations in support of Vanuatu taking up the issue of West Papuan self-determination at the United Nations.

Seven Papuans killed in Indonesian military operation
RNZ Pacific 6 October 2018 
Indonesian police have been assisting military in a campaign against independence fighters in West Papua's Puncak Jaya regency. Photo: Supplied

Reports from Indonesia's Papua province say seven West Papuans have been killed in a military operation in remote Puncak Jaya regency. The remote Highlands area has been the focus of efforts by the Indonesian military, or TNI, to hunt down members of the West Papua Liberation Army.  Five civilians, including two young children, were killed according to local human rights workers as the TNI mounted land and air attacks on the Liberation Army in Tingginambut District. Two members of the Liberation Army were also reportedly killed in the incident which happened earlier this week. A statement from the TNI said it was a standard operation in which military forces targeted an area where the banned Papuan nationalist Morning Star Flag was flying. Colonel Muhammad Aidi said that at the outset, the Liberation Army was warned to surrender but instead fired at the TNI soldiers. Colonel Aidi's statement only cited the discovery of one Liberation Army member's body, but he said a weapons cache was also found.
Following the violence and the emergence of the TNI in the regency many villagers have reportedly fled to the bush, according to human rights workers. The TNI said it was followers of Goliat Tabuni's Liberation Army group who fled into the nearby forest. The TNI has been assisted in their operations by Indonesian police.

In a joint statement Tapol and Etan reported that up to 221 West Papuans were arbitrarily arrested in the month of September.
Joint statement from Tapol and ETAN
TAPOL and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) condemn yet another wave of mass arrests1 during the opening week of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The mass arrests clearly contradict the statement of the Republic of Indonesia in their first “right of reply” during the General Assembly that there are not “frequent and systematic human rights violations” in West Papua.2 We also disagree with Indonesia’s claim that UN Resolution 2504 of 19693 has settled the issue of West Papua’s political status.

In late September, Indonesian security forces arrested 89 West Papuans and many more were beaten.4 One West Papuan is being investigated for treason. Their alleged crime was to have peacefully demonstrated their support for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua and for the Republic of Vanuatu which planned to speak about human rights and the right to self-determination at the UNGA session. (An additional 39 Papuans were detained in Malang, East Java on 30 September for demonstrating in support of self-determination.5) This problematic trend of unlawful mass arrests of peaceful protesters was highlighted two years ago, when the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial 

Discrimination delivered two early warnings to Indonesia.6 These warnings arose from 5,361 unlawful arrests of West Papuan peaceful protesters in just one year alone.7 No other group has suffered such treatment at the hands of the Indonesian state. Hence, there have been systematic human rights violations in West Papua in the past, but they continue.

A total of 221 West Papuans were arbitrarily arrested this past September.8 Five people were tortured by Indonesia’s security forces,9 including one killed while in police custody in the same month.10  West Papuans are not only discriminated against in their own ancestral territory of Papua, but in other provinces of Indonesia. There have been racially motivated attacks by state-backed gangs against West Papuan student dormitories in Surabaya,11 Yogyakarta12 and Malang,13 as well as assaults by security forces in Manado and Tomohon.14 West Papuans are routinely prevented from holding public discussions and peaceful protests in Java and other non-Papuan parts of Indonesia. Those who seek to document violations and defend the victims of human rights in West Papua live in fear. These human rights defenders face a range of physical threats and other measures, aimed at obstructing their work. Indigenous human rights activist, seeking to protect ancestral lands in South Sorong15 or Boven Digoel,16 expose illegal mining in Koroway, or publicising military sweeps, house-burnings and other severe human rights violations in remote villages in Mimika or Nduga risk criminalization by Indonesian authorities. 17  Full Statement at

Authorities Arrest 8, Seize Hundreds of Ammunition in Papua
SATURDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER, 2018 | 19:06 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Joint officers from the Police and Indonesian Army (TNI) arrested eight people and seized hundreds of ammunition, a homemade firearm, and a number of documents at a residence in Mimika, Papua, on Saturday. Head of Papua Police's Public Relations, Sr. Comr. AM Kamal in Jayapura City said the arrest was part of the development of a case investigation for the arrest of someone with the initials RW on Monday, September 10. RW was arrested after being caught carrying 153 ammunitions at Moses Kilangin Airport. “After [we] received information, officers in the field that were assisted by TNI officers immediately conducted a search at the headquarters of the West Papua National Committee or KNPB in the Timika region, and they found a number of evidence and eight people,” he said. Kamal said that the evidence includes 5.56 caliber ammunition of 104 bullets, 11 revolver ammunition, one 7.62 bullet ammunition, 7 Molotov cocktails, and a sheet of Morning Star flag. “There are also a number of documents, cell phones, hard drives, machetes, bows, arrows, axes, and spears. The initials of eight people suspected of being KNPB activists were TG, HW, HE, PN, EH, NA, JK, and YW,” he said. They had been secured to the Mimika Police, Papua, headquarters for further legal proceedings.  ANTARA

Answers sought over death of Papuan machete suspect
Activists demand probe into how man accused of chopping off someone's hand died while in Indonesian police custody

Family members mourn over the body of Yudas Gebze at his home in Ilwahab, in Papua’s Merauke district. (Photo supplied)
Ryan Dagur, Jakarta  Indonesia  September 26, 2018
Human rights and church activists have called for an investigation following the death last week of an indigenous Papuan who died in police custody. Yudas Gebze, from the Malind tribal group died on Sept. 14, a day after he was arrested in Ilwahab, in Papua province'sMerauke district for allegedly chopping off a man's right hand with a machete………….

Amnesty International released a statement concerning the incident on the 21 Sept.
Indonesian authorities must conduct prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of torture leading to the death of Yudas Gebze in Ilwayab, Merauke District, Papua Province. The persons responsible for the acts must be prosecuted before civilian courts in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards without the use of death penalty……………..

Urgent Action
Amnesty International also released an U/A (3 October 2018), concerning  Papuan political activist, Yakonias Womsiwor, has been suffering from severe pain in both his legs for more than two weeks after being shot by police. Despite being unable to stand as a result of the gunshot, proper medical care has been denied by police.  On 15 September 2018, the local Mimika Police Force shot Yakonias Womsiwor in both legs when a joint police- military forces raided the office of the KNPB (National Committee of West Papua) Timika branch, a pro Papua independence organization. Nine members of KNPB were arrested. 

Amnesty for prisoners of conscience is urgent
Jakarta Post.  Glenn FredlyJakarta | Mon, September 17, 2018 

A study, conducted by Indonesia Law Reform Institute cofounder Anugrah Rizki Akbari, concludes that Indonesia has an “overcriminalization” problem, with hundreds of harmless activities having been classified as crimes. (Shutterstock/File)

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…….

Indonesian Police Extend Detention of Polish Man Accused of Papua Rebel Links Victor Mambor and Tria Dianti  Jayapura, Indonesia   2018-09-19

Indonesian lawyer Latifah Anum Siregar (left), accompanied by two colleagues, talks to client Jakub Fabian Skrzypski (right) at police headquarters in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesia’s Papua province, Sept. 19, 2018.  Courtesy Alliance for Democracy of Papua (ALDP)

A Polish national who was arrested last month on suspicion of helping separatist rebels in Indonesia’s Papua province has denied that he took part in a conspiracy to overthrow the government, his attorney said Wednesday, as police extended his detention for 40 days for further investigation. Police arrested and detained Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, 39, in Papua’s Wamena regency on Aug. 26, accusing him of conspiracy to supply weapons to the rebels. “He rejected all the accusations,” Skrzypski’s lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, told BenarNews. “He rejected the conspiracy charges.” Latifah said her client had “never campaigned for the Papuan separatists nor did he support Papuan independence.” “He has never been involved in any military training and is not an arms dealer or any such thing. He has never owned weapons or ammunition,” she added. Skrzypski could face life or 20 years in prison, if found guilty, Latifah said, describing the accusations as “reckless.” Latifah said she last met Skrzypski on Friday, and described her client as “depressed.”………………………
A Washington Post report also at

UK city considers honouring West Papuan leader
The chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, is being considered for the Freedom of Oxford award.Mr Wenda and his family are based in the United Kingdom city where he was granted asylum in 2002 after fleeing Indonesian rule in West PapuaThe Oxford Student reports that the city's council was this week set to debate whether to grant the award to Mr Wenda in recognition of his long fight for indigenous rights.He has been campaigning extensively on the international stage for West Papuan independence, and helped establish a Free West Papua office in Oxford.Other notable recipients of the award include the former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, as well as former South African president Nelson Mandela.However, Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi was recently stripped of her Freedom of Oxford honour due to the Rohingya refugee crisis in her country. (RNZ Pacific 4 Oct 2018) 

Migration is a factor of increasing poverty in Papua
Jubi Published on 14 September 2018 By admin
Jayapura, Jubi Septer Manufandu, the former Executive Secretary of Non-Governmental Organization Working Forum of Papua (FOKER LSM Papua), stated stakeholders in Papua need to the right solution to strict the flow of migration into Papua. So far, he said that Papua is an open region and anyone is free to come to Papua without strict control. Therefore he urges the authority to establish a proper mechanism to control the migration, but respect everyone’s right at the same time. “In the Special Regulation about Population, it does not prohibit people outside of Papua to enter Papua, but rather to control it. So migrants must have a clear purpose coming to Papua,” Manufandu told Jubi on Friday (9/9/2018). Meanwhile, a Papua Parliament Member Mustakim said a factor that causes the increase in the percentage of poverty in Papua is the rapid influx of migrants. “No matter how hard the government tried to reduce the poverty rate in Papua, it becomes difficult to work as people from the outside continue to come,” said Mustakim. Furthermore, he said a proper solution to regulate the influx of population in Papua is the government should stipulate the provincial regulation (Perdasi) or special regional regulation (Perdasus) on migration. (*)  Reporter: Arjuna Pademme Editor: Pipit Maizier

Indonesia now holds majority of shares of Freeport
Reporter: Antara  28th September 2018
Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government officially became the majority shareholder at PT Freeport Indonesia following the signing of a number of agreements at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources here on Thursday. "Yes, the divestment process in PT Freeport has now been finished, leaving only the administrative process that has to be completed by Freeport and Inalum," Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said, after witnessing the signing of the agreements. Indonesian state-owned mining holding company PT Inalum, Freeport McMoRan Inc. (FCX) and Rio Tinto signed a number of agreements to follow up the Head of Agreement regarding the sales of CFX shares and Rio Tinto`s participating right in PT Freeport Indonesia to PT Inalum here on Thursday. The agreements include PT FI`s divestment agreement, PT Rio Tinto`s shares sales and purchase agreement, and an agreement on PT FI shareholders. The agreements were signed by PT Inalum`s president director Budi G.Sadikin and FCX`s CEO Richard Adkerson, witnessed by Minister Jonan, State Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno and Finance Minister Sti Mulyani.

Under the agreements, PT Inalum`s shares at PT FI have now increased from 9.36 percent to 51.23 percent, while the regional governments of Papua will receive 10 percent of 100 percent shares of PT FI. The change in the shareholding will be official after payment of US3.85 billion (Rp56 trillion) to CFX, which is to be completed before the end of this year. "Following the signing of the agreements, the government will issue IUPK (mining license) for a period of 2x10 years until 2042," Jonan said. PT FI`s obligation to build a copper smelter with a capacity of 2 to 2.6 million tons would continue to be monitored and evaluated with regard to its progress, Jonan said, adding that the project was expected to finish in less than five years. Minister Rini Soemarno said Inalum`s commitment to meeting the target of the settlement of the divestment was worth praising. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, on the other hand, said, "With regard to support investment for Freeport and Inalum, the government had given certainty regarding tax obligations and non-tax obligations at national and regional levels that must be met by PT FI." With the conclusion of the divestment process, and following a change from a working contract (KK) to a mining business license (IUPK) system, it is assured that PTFI`s contribution to state income will be larger in the aggregate.
Reporting by Afut Syafril Nursyiwan Editing by Yoseph Haryadi Editor: Suharto

Rockin for West Papua 
Kicking things off was Holland, with the legendary West Papuan band Mambesak, and the perfect start to this year’s concerts. Founder of Mambesak, musician and freedom fighter Arnold Ap was arrested, tortured and assassinated by the Indonesian military in 1983.  Ap’s family now live in exile in Holland. The Ap family is proud to launch the month of Rockin for West Papua to carry on the torch of their father’s legacy and music. The family is excited to share the stage with fellow musicians Pascion, Teddy Talapessy , Thiago Mereilles, NWay and more.

Opinion pieces/reports/media releases etc.  

A reply from DFAT to AWPA’s letter to new Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon Marise Payne

New Papua Atlas tracks impact of plantations, roads on forests 

GUEST BLOG: Maire Leadbeater – Indonesia rails against Pacific support for West Papua

To conserve West Papua, start with land rights (commentary)

Improving education is an uphill battle in Papua


West Papua betrayed 56 years ago

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