1) Indonesian infrastructure isn’t quelling desire for independence in Papua
18 Dec 2018|Richard Chauvel
The killing of 16 workers on Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s trans-Papua road project shortly after demonstrations and mass detentions that marked the 1 December anniversary of Papua’s ‘independence day’ reminds us that Indonesia’s last regional conflict remains intractable.
The killings in the remote district of Nduga were the most significant armed action by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN) in recent years. However, the attack was not unprecedented. Between 2010 and 2014, armed resistance groups were responsible for some 122 deaths, and most of the casualties were members of the security forces. In earlier clashes with the security forces, as in Wasior in 2001 and Puncak Jaya in 2004, non-Papuan employees of timber and transport companies were killed.
Armed resistance against Indonesian rule has persisted since the beginning of Indonesian administration in 1963, although, since 2000, the mainstream of the independence movement has advocated a peaceful struggle. For the most part, the resistance effort has been localised, loosely organised, sporadic and poorly armed. It has never threatened Indonesian control in Papua, but has not been eliminated, despite the deployment of overwhelming numbers of police and personnel from the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI). In the context of the current crisis, the former head of the National Intelligence Body (BIN), Sutiyoso, estimated that there were 25 resistance groups in the highlands, collectively numbering 685 combatants with 232 weapons.
Jokowi has visited Papua more often than any of his predecessors. Early in his presidency, he made commitments to resolve human rights abuses, remove restrictions on the access of foreign journalists and release political prisoners. While political prisoners have been released, little progress has been made on resolving human rights cases, and the pattern of abuses by the security forces is little changed. Foreign journalists still must negotiate Papua-specific regulations. Jokowi’s approach to Papua has increasingly been focused on economic development, particularly infrastructure, seemingly in the belief that, if material welfare can be improved, the difficult political, human rights and historical issues will somehow fade away.
The Trans-Papua Highway is the centrepiece of Jokowi’s infrastructure ambitions. He has identified the district of Nduga, with its extreme poverty, lack of services and isolation, as the source of his motivation to develop Papua. Nduga is the poorest district in the poorest province. It is also the base of one of the armed resistance groups. Nduga represents the complexity of the problems the Jokowi government faces in Papua.
From the perspective of the armed resistance, the TPN, the targeting of construction workers on the trans-Papua road was not coincidental. When TPN spokesman Sebby Sambom claimed responsibility for the attack, he explained it in terms of the TPN’s political objectives. ‘We don’t need development. What we need is the opportunity to determine our future through a referendum.’ He said that the TPN was willing to negotiate with the Indonesian government on the right of self-determination, provided the UN was involved as a third party. He regarded the trans-Papua road project as the work of the military. The construction team had been monitored for a couple of months and the workers were identified as military, he said. ‘As long as the TNI is involved we will attack. We are not going to wage war on unarmed civilians.’
Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s rejection of negotiations reflected Jakarta’s attitude: ‘Everything has already been given to the region (Papua), except independence. The budget allocation is much greater than before.’
Marking the 1 December anniversary has become part of the Papuan political calendar and a barometer of the restrictions on freedom of expression and organisation that constrain Papuans but not other Indonesians. Papuans were permitted to celebrate the anniversary in 1999 and 2000. Since then, Papuans observing the anniversary have risked long prison sentences. Most notably, pro-independence activist and government official Filep Karma served 10 years of a 15-year sentence for raising the Morning Star flag on the anniversary in 2004.
The demonstrations and detentions this year in Papua, Surabaya and elsewhere suggests a shift in government tactics away from heavy sentences for the leaders of peaceful flag-raising ceremonies to mass arrests of protesters. This year around the anniversary over 500 protesters were detained by police, nearly half of them Papuan students in Surabaya. The mass arrests confirm a pattern developed during the first two years of Jokowi’s administration; 1,083 people were detained in 2015 and 5,361 in 2016.
The arrests of students in Surabaya and elsewhere highlights another aspect of how the pro-independence movement is evolving. Scholars from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences argue that a younger generation of activists has emerged who support independence through a referendum and are less inclined than their elders to cooperate with the government. There have been several incidents, linked to issues of Papuan independence and human rights, involving Papuan students in Yogyakarta and other university towns over several years. These students are the potential elite of their generation. The activism of Papuan students raises the question of whether the experience of studying at Indonesian universities serves to facilitate identification with fellow Indonesians or consolidates a sense of Papuan difference.
Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, expressed her condolences to her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, over the attack in Papua. Perhaps this was all the Australian government could say.
Given the strategic importance and fragility of Papua New Guinea, Australia has an interest in the resolution of the conflict in Indonesian Papua. However, the long shadow of its role in East Timor’s separation from Indonesia means that any public expressions of concern are viewed with suspicion and Australia’s frequent statements recognising Indonesia’s sovereignty in Papua are doubted.
Richard Chauvel is an honorary fellow at the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne. Image courtesy of AK Rockefeller on Flickr.
2) Sacked Freeport workers in Papua take case to Jakarta
Konradus Epa, Jakarta Indonesia December 18, 2018
Dozens of former employees mount long-term protest to win redress for up to 8,000 'unfairly sacked' colleagues
Tri Puspital's life changed dramatically when mining firm Freeport McMoRan Indonesia "fired" him and 8,000 other workers from its Grasberg mine in Timika, Papua, more than a year ago.
Puspital, 50, has no new income to support his family and the company has not paid him any severance. His health insurance has also been blocked.
Many of his former co-workers find themselves in a similar situation and are struggling to find other work.
He said all were fired when they went on strike in May last year to protest against working conditions, such as having to do 12-hour shifts and the laying off of 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 workforce at the world's largest gold mine and second largest copper mine.
"I was shocked and angry that they blocked my health insurance after having worked there for more than 20 years," he said.
Puspital, who worked as a senior smelting operator for Freeport, said at least 35 of his co-workers have died since the firm terminated their health insurance, because they couldn't afford to pay hospital fees.
Now Puspital has to borrow money from neighbors to pay his children's high school fees. Again, his friends have a similar problem, while others have had to pull their children from school.
"About 40 children have stopped going to school because parents cannot pay their school fees. Two people have even committed suicide," he said.
They have tried asking the company to rehire them, but Freeport flatly refused, saying the workers were deemed to have resigned when they went on strike.
"If they won't rehire us, they should at least give us severance pay," Puspital said.
In desperation Puspital and 40 worker representatives have taken up residence at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation offices in Jakarta since August. With the foundation's help they are demanding justice from the company and also the Indonesian government, which has a majority stake in the company.
"We came to Jakarta to seek help from the president," said Puspital, adding that he and 70 friends left Timika and travelled by boat for ten days before arriving in the capital on Aug. 1.
While in Jakarta they have sought meetings with government officials, but apart from seeing president's chief of staff, Muldoko, they have been unsuccessful.
"We will not give up until we get assurances from the government, even if it means we have to sleep on the floor for months, for the sake of thousands of our friends in Papua," he said.
"We have held protests three times already in Jakarta, outside the presidential palace, but no-one is willing to listen to us," he said.
They were told their case was being handled by Ministry of Manpower, but the minister, Hanif Dhakiri, has refused to meet them.
Stephen Yawan, 33, another worker dismissed by the company, said he was praying the government will see reason and help them.
"We were fired because we fought for our rights. It's not fair," he said.
Their legal adviser, Nurkholis Hidayat of the Lokataru Law and Human Rights Office, said the fight has proved dangerous for the workers.
"Ten people were tortured after being arrested at protests, five have been shot and one is still missing," he said.
Freeport Indonesia spokesman, Riza Pratama, said the company has done nothing wrong and has followed all legal procedures.
"What the company has done is in accordance with the guidelines and laws on industrial relations," he said.
Ministry of manpower official John Daniel Saragih said his ministry was trying to help the workers.
"We are thinking of the best solution that can benefit both parties," the director of the ministry's industrial relations department said.
Reporter: Aripin Editor: Laila Afifa 18 December 2018 14:09 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) said it has completed the draft of a special mining business permit (IUPK) for Freeport Indonesia.
The ESDM's director general of Mineral and Coal Bambang Gatot Ariyono said that all parties are still discussing the other details of IUPK, such as the environmental and financial aspects. “ESDM has completed it,” he said, Monday, December 17.
Bambang hoped that all forms of transaction settlement could be completed by the end of this year so that the issue will be resolved quickly. Currently, Freeport Indonesia still has a temporary IUPK that expired in December 2018.
According to Bambang, his party could issue an IUPK for 20 years after Freeport’s contract expired in 2021. However, even though the IUPK could be extended for up to 20 years, that does not mean it would be immediately given until 2041.
He reasoned that the contract period is a maximum of 2x10 years, so the permits that will be directly granted are only until 2031.
“So, each licensing period has requirements that must be met,” he said.
Previously, as reported by a spokesman for PT Freeport Indonesia Riza Pratama, his side was still attempting to get the permanent IUPK permit to be granted directly until 2041. This means that Freeport IUPK is sought without having to extend it for 2x10 years.
4) Papua Customary Council: Indonesia and Papua Free Movement must sit together
Published 4 hours ago on 18 December 2018
Jayapura, Jubi – The president of Papua Baptism Churches Dr Socrates Sofyan Yoman said the Indonesian Government’s reaction on the murder of 16 people in Nduga Regency on 2 December is truly explicit and unfair.
“We all disagree and condemn Papua Free Movement’s act that killed 16 Indonesians in Nduga on 1 December 2018,” Yoman told Jubi reporter on Friday, 14 December 2018 in Abepura, Jayapura City, Papua.
However, the Indonesian Military and Police shouldn’t take this as a reason to conduct a military operation in Nduga because it would only cause more causality among innocent people, he said.
Currently, the military operation has been carrying out and already took many lives of civilians. However, the reaction over this killing is a paradox. Papuan people should question the policy of the Indonesian Government.
“Are there shouts and curses (from Indonesian Government) when their military and police massacred hundreds or even thousands of West Papuans for 54 years? Where is the justice? Where is the humanity?” asked Yoman.
Moreover, he said without justice and through the incident that killed 16 people in Nduga, the Indonesian Government has established their image before the eyes of the nation of West Papua, Indonesia and the international community that Indonesia is an imperialist who conquered and colonialized West Papua.
Meanwhile, Dominikus Surabut, the Chief of Papua Customary Council, said the Indonesian Government would never solve the problems in Papua through the task forces.
“Indonesia must sit together with the Free Papua Movement,” he affirmed.
According to him, both sides must take this conciliation seriously and have a mutual commitment to solving the problems in Papua.
Without conciliation, the violence will repeat. Therefore, Yoman appealed the West Papuans to fight for their primary rights peacefully. They no need to be provoked by the provocative actions of the Indonesian Government.
“In responding the state’s violence, I asked the West Papuans to keep fighting for their rights in peaceful, humane and dignified ways,” said Yoman. (*)
Jayapura, Jubi– Addressing the commemoration of the World Human Rights day, Walhi (the Indonesian Forum for Environment) Papua, Yayasan Pusaka, SOS Tanah Papua, KPCK GKI Tanah Papua, LBH Papua and PAHAM invited a number of victims from several regencies in Papua Province whose lands exploited by logging, palm oil and mining companies to share their stories.
Linus Omba from Boven Digoel Regency told how Korindo Group Company came to meet a person, then cut down the trees and took it away from this region.
“Our custom taught us to deliberate before taking a consensus for the public interest, but PT. Korindo Group only met one person and paid the tenure right concession to take woods from our forest,” Omba said on Monday (10/12/2018) in Jayapura.
Meanwhile, Bonefius Basik-basik, the chief of Basik-basik and Kamijari clans, added that the palm oil and logging companies have operated in this region from 2012 to 2018. He and his community have applied for payment for communal land ownership since 2017, but there’s no answer from those companies until now.
People then prohibited those companies to take the cutting woods and let those woods got rotten in the forest. “Finally, PT. ACP and PT. APF paid the community for Christmas preparation,” said Basik-basik.
However, according to him, due to logging and land clearing for new plantation area, it has an impact on the local community. Water that used to be used directly for drinking water currently polluted with the company waste.
Meanwhile, an activist from Timika Adolfina Kuum explained how the life of Kamoro and Amungme tribes have changed due to the presence of PT. Freeport Indonesia. The environmental damage caused by PT. Freeport still has an impact on the local people.
In the meantime, Aish Rumbekwan from Walhi Papua added that the private companies in that region didn’t give protection to indigenous people. The state seems not to protect to its citizens.
“And the expansion of Papua forest on a large scale has provided huge profits of state’s revenues, but this country has not provided welfare for the community,” he said.(*)