Monday, December 3, 2018

1) Australian caught in west papua crackdown

2) Profile of West Papua gradually being raised

1) Australian caught in west papua crackdown
Human rights activists have condemned the weekend arrest across Indonesia of hundreds of West Papuan students and activists marking what separatists consider to be the restive Indonesian province’s historical date of independence. 
Among the 537 people swept up in police raids across eight cities and towns on Saturday was Australian Ronda Amy Harman, who police said yesterday would likely be deported for breaching immigration laws that prohibit tourists from participating in political activities.
Police in the east Java city of Surabaya, where Ms Harman was arrested with 233 Papuan students, told The Australian the students were arrested for their own protection after an authorised rally earlier in the day was attacked by nationalist paramilitary groups armed with sharpened bamboo sticks and rocks. Sixteen West Papuans were injured in the attacks.
“Everyone has been released without charges except for the Australian woman who we handed over to immigration. They will decide what to do with her,” police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said.
Surabaya immigration said there was no evidence Ms Harman had attended Saturday’s rally and denied she was in custody, but added they wanted to question her further ahead of her likely expulsion.
“We are keeping her safe because she was in a Papuan student dormitory which was surrounded by locals and people from mass organisations who were angry that the students staged a dem­onstration demanding Papuan independence,” Surabaya immigration chief Tarmin Setiawan said. “We are keeping her passport and I have assigned officers to keep an eye on her. We don’t want her to get into trouble again.”
Indonesian authorities are sensitive about West Papua, a resource-rich but deeply impoverished province where a separatist insurgency has been ongoing for more than five decades.
Ms Harman, 35, is the third Australian to be detained this year by authorities in relation to West Papua, after Sydney PhD student Belinda Lopez was arrested in August as she prepared to celebrate her honeymoon at a West Papuan cultural festival, and BBC bureau chief Rebecca Henschke was detained in February while reporting on a health and malnutrition crisis in the eastern part of the province.
The Perth activist, an Aboriginal woman who friends say has been involved in the West Papuan freedom movement for several years, was arrested with the West Papuan students in a Surabaya dormitory just before midnight on Saturday as students marked December 1, 1961, when the Papuan Morning Star flag was first raised.
Perth friend Janet Parker told The Australian Ms Harman, who also volunteered in a Fremantle cafe for the poor, was “a tough nut who would be able to handle herself OK”.
Amnesty International yesterday described the weekend arrests, which included raids in West Papua and four other cities, as another “act of intimidation” by Indonesian authorities against West Papuans.
Successive Indonesian governments have sanctioned the violent suppression of West Papua’s independence movement, fearing its success could encourage similar movements in other provinces.
Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights has estimated more than 10,000 people were killed in West Papua during the 32-year Suharto era, which ended in 1998.
The arrests are in stark contrast to Sunday’s rally in which close to half a million people gathered in central Jakarta to hear hardline Islamists flout strict electoral laws by issuing a thinly veiled call for followers not to vote for President Joko Widodo at presidential elections next April.

Amanda Hodge is The Australian’s South East Asia correspondent. Based in Jakarta, she has covered war, refugees, terror attacks, natural disasters and social and political upheaval from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka… 

2) Profile of West Papua gradually being raised

Brian Turner 15:33, Dec 03 2018

OPINION: A largely forgotten part of the Pacific, West Papua, has an increasing profile in Canterbury as well as elsewhere in New Zealand.
This is largely due to a network of support groups like West Papua Action Canterbury (WPAC) who have worked hard over the past decade to raise the profile of the Indonesian-occupied country.
This year alone, Canterbury has hosted Australian activist Robert Stringer and West Papuan film-maker, environmentalist and United Nations consultant Wensislaus Fatubun.
At noon on Saturday, December 1, West Papua's national day, the annual city council-assisted raising of West Papua's "Morning Star" flag took place at New Brighton.
Raising this flag in West Papua could see one end up in jail for 12 years.

I first became aware of the plight of West Papua when working in neighbouring Papua New Guinea in the 1970s, when West Papuan refugees were coming over the border and being pushed back by a then unsympathetic PNG, which was under the thumb of Australia, which in turn was being pressured by Indonesia.
Originally part of the Dutch East Indies, West Papua was prepared by the Dutch for independence until the United States became aware of the rich mineral deposits in West Papua and, wanting to keep Indonesia from going Communist, pressured the United Nations into granting Indonesia a limited trusteeship in 1963, prior to West Papuans having a fair and free vote on their future in 1969.
That vote was anything but free and fair, with hand-picked Papuan representatives being forced at gunpoint to vote for Indonesian control. Unwisely, the UN sanctioned the vote and West Papua lost its membership of the Decolonisation Committee of the UN.
What followed has been 55 years of brutality from Indonesia (as previously in East Timor) with claims of thousands arrested, tortured and up to 500,000 being killed. American and other transnationals have open access to West Papua's abundant minerals and rain forests.
Wensislaus Fatubun has pointed out that we are complicit in importing oil palm kernel for stock food and Kwila hardwood products from forests and oil palm plantations on land stolen from Papuans, and on which they depend for their existence.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has committed New Zealand to helping achieve a "reset" in the Pacific, whereby Pacific nations can achieve greater control over their destiny, but unfortunately this doesn't appear to apply to West Papua, which Peters (largely for trade reasons) still sees as part of Indonesia.
Parliamentary lobby groups, notably Pacific and Maori MPs, are seeking to change this by advocating that West Papua be readmitted to the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations.
The Canterbury United Nations Association is also weighing in with a forum early next year entitled "Pacific Re-Set: the case for West Papua". Christchurch City Councillor Raf Manji, who has studied International law and particularly West Papua, will chair the forum.
Brian Turner is the convener of  West Papua Action Canterbury

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