Friday, November 23, 2018

1) West Papua: Supporters of Self-Determination Present Petition to British Foreign Office

2) West Papua Builds Roads in Arfak Mountains to Boost Tourism
3) Indonesian activists attack Widodo over new army chief pick


Nov 23, 2018
1) West Papua: Supporters of Self-Determination Present Petition to British Foreign Office

Last year, West Papuan activists gathered a total of 1.8 million signatures and thumbprints on a petition to the United Nations asking for respect for the self-determination of the West Papuan community. This last month, October 2018, supporters of the petition were able to present it at the Foreign Office in the United Kingdom with the hopes that the Britain use its power in the UN to speak out against such colonialist practices.
The article below was published by the Guardian:
Every colonial enterprise pretends to be inspired by something other than theft. The General Act of the Berlin Conference in 1885, under which the European powers carved Africa into formal colonial possessions, claimed that their purpose was “furthering the moral and material wellbeing of the native populations … and bringing home to them the blessings of civilisation”.
[…] Preposterous as such propaganda may seem to most of us today, it was taken very seriously. In some quarters, it still is. Take the case, scandalously neglected in both journalism and politics, of West Papua.
West Papua, the western half of New Guinea, is owned and run like a 19th-century colony. But in one respect its situation is even worse, as it is not formally recognised as such. Instead, it is treated by the United Nations and powerful countries – including the United States, Australia and the UK – as part of the national territory of Indonesia, the colonial power.
Until 1962 the Netherlands, which was then the colonial master, had planned to oversee West Papua’s transition to independence. But the Dutch came under massive pressure from the US government, for whom south-east Asia was nothing but a series of counters to be deployed in its great game against the Soviet Union. It insisted that Indonesia be allowed to “administer” West Papua, as long as its people were permitted a referendum on independence by 1969.
Indonesian administration consisted of imprisonment, torture, killing and the theft of everything on which officials and soldiers could lay hands. As the US embassy noted, around 95% of the people of West Papua supported independence. To encourage them to change their minds they were bombed, shelled and strafed, bayoneted and beaten to death. According to the Indonesian governor at the time, between 1963 and 1969 the armed forces murdered 30,000 Papuans.
[….] Among the most preposterous justifications were those put forward by British officials. “Naturally one sympathises with the natives, but colonialism is not always such a bad thing, indeed it is often beneficial,” one diplomat asserted. A note from the Foreign Office advised that it is “in the general interest to turn a blind eye”, while another official report stated that government policy was “to help sustain the present moderate regime in Indonesia” (the moderate regime being President Suharto’s government, which had already killed around 500,000 opponents).
We’ve had 50 years of such excuses. Last year, foreign office minister Lord Ahmed told the House of Lords that the UK “retains its position on supporting the integrity of Indonesia”. But the principle of integrity does not apply, under international law, to occupied territories.
Doubtless these positions are unconnected to the tremendous mineral wealth of West Papua, now being exploited by multinational corporations without the consent of its people. BP, for example, is working an £8bn natural gas field called Tangguh. Vast deposits of gold, copper and petroleum, timber from the world’s largest contiguous tract of rainforest outside the Amazon, and fertile soils on which palm oil can be grown have been seized from the indigenous people – assisted by the government’s continued imprisonment, torture, rape and murder of those who resist it. Despite the riches being extracted from their land, the Papuans suffer horrendous levels of childhood malnutrition, preventable disease and illiteracy.
But last year something remarkable happened. At great risk to their lives, and in constant danger of discovery by the soldiers occupying their land, West Papuan campaigners gathered 1.8 million validated signatures and thumbprints on a petition to the UN to respect their right to self-determination. This amounts to 70% of the indigenous population. Many people were beaten and tortured for spreading it or signing it.
This month, after a year of being stonewalled, parliamentary supporters of West Papuan independence (who include Jeremy Corbyn) have at last been allowed to present this petition to the Foreign Office. Because the leader of the independence movement, Benny Wenda, lives in this country and because the UK, with its seat on the UN security council, has been instrumental in justifying the seizure of their land, using the age-old excuses for colonial rule, the attempt at international recognition begins here. The question is: will the government listen, or will it continue to pretend, as it did in 1885, that the theft of a nation is a sacred duty?
Photo courtesy of Axel Drainville @ Flickr

2) West Papua Builds Roads in Arfak Mountains to Boost Tourism

TEMPO.COManokwari - The West Papua administration will build roads in Arfak Mountains regency to support the development of the tourism sector and public services in the area. 
“The construction will begin for the Anggi-Ulong-Penibut and Sakumi roads,” said the Governor of West Papua, Dominggus Mandacan, in Manokwari, Thursday, November 22. 
Dominggus said the administration wanted to facilitate the access from Anggi as the hub of administration with other districts. However, the construction will be carried out in stages according to budget capabilities. 
He said the construction had already been started by the local administration and the central administration through the National Road Implementation Center (BPJN). 
“The latest information that I received was like that, BPJN is temporarily could not continue the construction of the road in Pegaf (Arfak Mountains) because it was given a target to complete the trans road in West Papua,” he said. 
According to Dominggus, the people of Kampung Uper refused the road paving if they had to bring in materials such as stones and sand from other areas. They want the construction to utilize the materials available in their own area. 
According to the governor, the people’s wish was positive as it can cut the construction's costs. Even so, the materials used must go through laboratory tests to ensure the quality of the building. “ The material feasibility must be considered, the terrain here is quite heavy,” he said.
The quality of the stones in the area is considered poor because they are mixed with soil. If used, said the governor, the asphalt would be easily damaged due to the weather and track loads. “ I have told the regent to convey [this] to the community. So that they understand and the construction will run smoothly,” the West Papua Governor said.


3) Indonesian activists attack Widodo over new army chief pick

Konradus Epa, Jakarta  Indonesia  November 23, 2018
Appointment of General Andika Perkasa will not see resolutions of rights abuses by military, they say

Right activists have questioned Indonesian President Joko Widodo's commitment to settling human rights abuses carried out by the military with the appointment of a traditionalist as the new army chief.

General Andika Perkasa is not concerned about reforming the military, they say.

Perkasa, 54, formerly the Army Strategic Reserves commander, assumed his new role on Nov. 22 following a ceremony at the Presidential Palace. He replaces General Mulyono who has retired.

"He [Perkasa] is not a reformist and has obstructed moves to settle rights violations," Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, told

Hamid also said it would be difficult for Perkasa to revise military tribunal laws that have victimized many civilians because he is considered close to and one of those thought to have committed violations in the past.

"Civil leaders need military support to settle human rights issues. Without military support, it will be difficult," he said, adding that Perkasa is not capable of doing that.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, said Widodo had ignored warnings from the institute and other rights groups not to appoint Perkasa as the army chief of staff.

"He [Perkasa] was allegedly involved in human rights violations, particularly the murder of Dortheys Hiyo Eluay in 2001 in Papua," he told "The killer admitted [Perkasa's involvement] during a tribunal." 

Eluay was chairman of the Papua Presidium Council, a tribal organization in Papua. He was allegedly abducted and murdered by members of the army.

Catharina Sumarsih, a Catholic woman whose son was allegedly killed by the military during anti-Suharto protests in May 1998, said Perkasa should at least ensure the military does what it is supposed to do. "Perkasa has to make sure the military protects and not threatens the lives of civilians," she said.

Lucius Karus, a Catholic political analyst, said the president had made a tactical error in appointing Perkasa as army chief of staff. "The president should listen to the people and not ignore human rights abuses," he said.

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