Sunday, December 9, 2018

1) Massacre a sign of increased trouble in Papua

2) Indonesia: Papuan Militants Kill 17
Police Should Investigate Worksite Killings; Military Should Show Restraint
3) More deaths as Indonesia hunts Papuan Liberation Army
4) UN official defends West Papuan rights – free speech, peaceful assembly
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The Strategist
1) Massacre a sign of increased trouble in Papua

10 Dec 2018|
The Indonesian government’s long and difficult task of developing Papua just got a lot harder after Free Papua Movement (OPM) rebels slaughtered at least 16 construction workers who were building a 4,320-kilometre highway that will bring migrants into the once-remote Central Highlands in greater numbers than ever before.
It is thought to be the bloodiest single incident in Papua since the controversial UN-administered 1969 Act of Free Choice made the former Dutch-controlled territory a formal part of Indonesia, sparking an independence struggle that continues today.
The OPM’s armed wing, the West Papua National Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the massacre, which suggests that the decades-long conflict may have entered a dangerous new stage despite the rebels having very few modern firearms.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo made it clear that the attack wouldn’t discourage the government from finishing the long-delayed Trans-Papua Highway by the end of next year. ‘This only makes us more determined to continue our great duty to develop Papua’, he said.
With the highway and Jakarta’s new mass rapid transit system as centrepieces, Widodo has presided over arguably the biggest infrastructure construction boom in the nation’s history, using it to press his claims for a second term when Indonesians go to the polls next April. 
The OPM wants to stop the road, which cuts a meandering path through challenging terrain from the coastal city of Sorong in the western Bird’s Head region across the Central Highlands to Merauke on the southeast coast bordering Papua New Guinea.
In March last year, separatist gunmen upped the ante by ambushing and killing four construction workers on a section of the highway in the rugged district of Puncak Jaya, 120 kilometres northwest of Wamena, the quasi-highland capital in the Balian Valley.
While the highway will sharply reduce the costs of fuel and other basic needs in Papua’s interior, local leaders worry about the social impact, saying the tribes aren’t prepared for the influx of migrants, who now outnumber native Papuans by as much as 60:40 across the once-roadless region.
The combined population of Papua and West Papua provinces is estimated at 3.6 million, 1.7 million of whom are listed as indigenous. Many of them are highland tribespeople living in the 10 districts that straddle the road as it winds along the region’s mountainous spine.
Still fresh in many minds is the violence which erupted in 2015 in Tolikara, north of Wamena, after local church leaders forbade Muslims from celebrating the end of the Ramadan fasting month. Although only one person died, it was a taste of what a toxic mix of community tensions and poor governance can do.
That discord hasn’t been helped by better-educated migrants getting most of the senior positions in the creation of new administrative regions, a process known as pemakaran which is more common in Papua than anywhere else in Indonesia.
Since 2000, the number of kabupaten, or districts, alone has grown from nine to 29 in Papua province and from three to 13 in West Papua, all aimed at satisfying local political demands and getting access to funding rather than improving the quality of administration.
The 1 December massacre in the central mountain district of Nguda follows a series of pin-prick attacks dating back to local government elections last June and has led to fears of the military and the police overreacting, as they have done in the past.
Ironically, the death toll is the worst since a deranged Indonesian special forces lieutenant, armed with an assault rifle, killed 11 soldiers and five civilians in an airport hangar in Timika, the largest town on Papua’s south coast in 1996. He died in prison years later.
Employed by a state-owned construction company, the workers were building a bridge in Nduga, a long-time OPM hotspot lying northeast of Freeport, Indonesia’s heavily guarded Grasberg mining operation which has been a favoured rebel target in the past.
The killings were reportedly triggered by one of the workers filming a pro-independence flag-raising ceremony, an activity banned by the government that has often led to mass arrests and a violent security crackdown.
The OPM claims the video-cameraman was in fact a government intelligence agent, one of a network of paid informers across Papua. There are conflicting reports about what exactly transpired in the lead-up to the massacre, with even the initial casualty estimates varying between 24 and 31.
According to one unverified social media account, the gun-toting rebels rounded up the workers at their construction camp, tied their hands and then marched them to the Karunggame River, where they were shot or hacked to death.
In a separate incident on 3 December, one soldier died when the same assailants struck a nearby territorial battalion security post, forcing the small unit there to withdraw until the arrival of helicopter-borne reinforcements from Wamena.
Nduga and neighbouring Puncak Jaya were both the scene of election-related violence, including two separate incidents when rebel snipers opened fire on passenger aircraft readying for take-off at Kenyam, the Nduga district capital. Two pilots were wounded.
Changing demographics and efforts to improve the welfare of native Papuans have always been controversial, given the legacy of former president Suharto’s now-defunct transmigration program, under which 750,000 migrants settled mostly in western Papua.
Since then, unassisted migrants from Java, Sulawesi and neighbouring islands have followed in growing numbers, settling in West Papua’s coastal towns, the Papua province capital of Jayapura, and around the boom town of Timika, which also serves as Freeport’s logistics base.  
Widodo has visited Papua six times since taking office in 2014, more than any other president, and was pictured earlier in the year touring part of the Trans-Papua road on a motorcycle. But he has so far failed to follow through on his commitment to a sustained peace dialogue.
With former military commander General Moeldoko taking over as the president’s chief of staff last January, even efforts at a limited dialogue focused on health, education and the environment have gone nowhere. 
There has always been a high level of mistrust felt among defence and home affairs officials, who believe that any talks with indigenous Papuan leaders will inevitably lead to demands for independence. If any pretext was needed, the massacre will only harden that stance.
John McBeth is a Jakarta-based correspondent. 
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 2) Indonesia: Papuan Militants Kill 17
Police Should Investigate Worksite Killings; Military Should Show Restraint
December 9, 2018 9:55PM EST
 (Jakarta) – Indonesian police should investigate a Papuan armed group’s killing of at least 17 people, including a soldier, at a construction area in Nduga in Papua’s densely forested Central Highlands on December 2, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today.
The circumstances of the killings remain unclear. Papuan militants should cease unlawful killings, and the Indonesian government should ensure that its security forces act in accordance with international standards and not commit abuses in response to the attack.
“A Papua militant group’s attack on a worksite raises grave concerns that require a full investigation,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch. “Militants and responding security forces should not inflict harm on ordinary Papuans.”
The West Papua National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat), the military wing of the Free Merdeka Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), claimed responsibility for the killings, saying those killed were military personnel from the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers. An army colonel said that three of the survivors of the attack were military personnel working as engineers. Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the Papuan armed group, told the media that the attacks were organized by the militant’s group’s third Ndugama Command. He said they had monitored the workers for three months and concluded that they were engineering corps personnel wearing civilian clothes.
However, Indonesia’s public works minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, said that those killed were workers from state-owned companies PT Istaka Karya and PT Brantas Abipraya, sent from Sulawesi to work on the 4,300-kilometer Trans Papua highway. He said that only the soldiers protecting the workers were armed, including the one killed in the attack.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in reaction to the attacks that, “I have ordered the Armed Forces commander and the Police Chief to pursue and capture all the perpetrators of such rude and violent acts.”
In West Papua, December 1 is widely commemorated as the day West Papua declared nationhood. In 1961, under Dutch rule, an elected council consisting mostly of indigenous Papuans commissioned the creation of a national anthem and flag. On December 1, 1961, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was flown beside the Dutch tricolor for the first time. Indonesia took control over Papua with United Nations recognition in 1969.
Over the last five decades, some Papuans have resisted Indonesian rule. On December 1, 2018, more than 500 students were arrested in more than 10 Indonesian cities after peacefully raising the Morning Star flag and demanding a referendum on independence.
Indonesia’s National Police initially announced that the killings in Nduga were in retribution for a worker taking photographs of Papuan militants organizing a flag-raising ceremony near a road and bridge construction.
More than 100 military and police officers were evacuating the dead and injured, and engaged in a military operation against the militants.
Human Rights Watch has long documented human rights abuses in Papua’s Central Highlands, where the military and police have frequently engaged in deadly confrontation with armed groups. Indonesian security forces have often committed abuses against the Papuan population, including arbitrary detention and torture. A lack of internal accountability within the security forces and a poorly functioning justice system mean that impunity for rights violators is the norm in Papua.
The Indonesian security forces should exercise care when operating in Nduga, directing all security personnel to treat Papuans in accordance with international standards. They should transparently investigate and hold accountable anyone implicated in a criminal offense. Both the military and the police should allow journalists to operate independently in the area. Nduga is an extremely remote area where no journalists have had access since the attacks.
decades-long official restriction on foreign media access to Papua and controls on Indonesian journalists there have fostered that lack of justice for serious abuses by Indonesian security forces and fueled resentment among Papuans.
“The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened,” Pearson said. “Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans.”
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3) More deaths as Indonesia hunts Papuan Liberation Army
2:26 pm today 


Four civillians have reportedly been killed in Papua province as Indonesian security forces continue their pursuit of the West Papua Liberation Army.
The Liberation Army claimed responsibility for killing as many as 31 Indonesians, mainly road construction workers, earlier this month in the Highlands region.
Local media reported that Indonesian military and police had retrieved 16 bodies from Nduga regency, having deployed a major joint operation there.
According to Tabloid Jubi, four Papuans were killed, including a priest of the Kingmi Church Synod, as troops sought to evacuate bodies of massacre victims.
There are humanitarian concerns for hundreds of Nduga residents - from Mbua, Yall and Yigi - who fled to the forest to avoid the joint operation.
Antara reported that Nduga's regent, Yarius Gwijange, said he had received unconfirmed reports that some civillians had been victims of "mis-shootings" of the joint operation.

He appealed to police and military to ensure civillians were not caught in the crossfire of their battle with the Liberation Army.
While the number of victims of the massacre remains unclear, the chairperson of Papua's Kingmi Church Synod, Benny Giay, said there were 24 people killed, all workers of a major road construction project.
Local people suspected the construction workers were military personnel, Dr Giay said.
This was because Indonesia's President Joko Widodo commissioned the military to build the major Trans Papua road network two years ago.
A spokesman for the Liberation Army last week said it attacked the workers after one of them was caught photographing a ceremony to mark the anniversary of 1961's West Papuan declaration of independence.

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4) UN official defends West Papuan rights – free speech, peaceful assembly
  
West Papuan rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been defended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a response to the mass arrests of Papuan protesters during flag raising ceremonies earlier this month.
“These are indigenous people at the end of the day,” says spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.
“So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefitted from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had.
“The rates of malnutrition are quite high.”
Shamdasani said in a radio interview with UN News that while President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had been initiating development projects, “the problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted.
“There haven’t been meaningful consultations [with] the people who are actually affected by this.”
In the interview, Shamdasani put into context the recent arrests of nearly 600 citizens who were detained for participating in West Papua’s national day, December 1, a global event for commemorating the first raising the Morning Star flag – banned by Indonesian authorities.
She also answered questions about development, armed conflict, and trying to gain access to the region.
Behind the West Papuan protestsThe UN interview transcript:
[UN NEWS] The mass arrest of demonstrators in Indonesia who were attempting to mark a national day for indigenous people in the east of the archipelago, has been condemned by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.
More than 500 activists were detained at the start of the month – though they’ve since been released.
Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani explained to UN News’ Daniel Johnson what’s behind these latest developments.
Ravina Shamdasani (RS): Last weekend there were peaceful protesters in the Papuan region of Indonesia who were celebrating what they call the “West Papua National Day,” and some 500 of them were arrested, detained. They were all subsequently released within 24 to 48 hours, but this does not take away from the fact that they should not have been arrested in the first place, and that this is not the first time this has happened.
It happens year after year and on several occasions during the year as well.
Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva (UN): What exactly are they protesting for apart from the fact that it’s their national day?
RS: Quite often these protests are protests for independence from Indonesia and of course we understand that the situation is complex. The Indonesian government is certainly not happy with these protests, but these people have their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. So there was really no reason to arbitrarily detain them.
UN: As a minority what particular rights are they trying to defend and what are they trying to say is being threatened?
RS: Well, these are indigenous people at the end of the day. So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefited from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had. The rates of malnutrition are quite high. Now the current president of Indonesia has been initiating development projects. The problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted. There haven’t been meaningful consultations of the people who are actually affected by this.
UN: Why is that? What structures are there in Papua, in Indonesia, to do this or not?
RS:The president has his analysis that the problem is one of economic development, um so he is trying to tackle that. But what we have emphasised, and what our previous High Commissioner during a visit to Jakarta in February of this year emphasised, was that development can of course bring with it access to many fundamental goods and services that can vastly improve people’s well beings, but if they cannot voice their concerns, and if they can’t participate in these decisions, the resulting development may not really increase their welfare, because it doesn’t really address the problems that they have.
UN: Ok, and what is your presence on the ground in this part of Indonesia given that it’s a huge country archipelago?
RS: We do not have a presence in Indonesia but we have a regional office in Bangkok that covers Southeast Asia – So we are, you know, in close contact with human rights defenders, civil society, government officials as well.
We have actually been seeking access to this region for quite awhile now. In February the High Commissioner was promised access, and we are still in discussions with the government of Indonesia to make that happen.
UN: This issue is not one that I’ve seen very often having been here what four years now. What’s your hope for the follow up and how many other similar cases are there that go really beneath the radar of international mainstream media?
RS: Too many international mainstream media tend to focus on the big conflicts. However there are many places like Papua, which are quite small, which have historic kind of long standing structural issues and unfortunately may not come up to the radar until there is an outbreak of conflict
What our office tries to do is try to ring the alarm bells early on, before the situation rises to the level of an armed conflict.
UN: You’re not suggesting it’s at that level now? Of course.
RS: No we’re not suggesting it’s at that level now, but there are many grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent. And then people take the law into their own hands because they feel they are not being heard.
This is actually happening at a very low level in Papua at the moment. There are armed groups that are operating. In fact, just this week I believe a number of people were killed. These were government contractors who were there doing a development project.
They were killed by armed groups which of course is unacceptable, but you have to understand the root causes and you have to address the root causes.
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