Monday, December 10, 2018

1) West Papua National Liberation Army: It’s an attack, not execution


2) Papuan pastor fights for self-determination
3) Papuans arrested for marking Human Rights Day

4) Papua killings revive debate on decades-old conflict

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1) West Papua National Liberation Army: It’s an attack, not execution
Published 10 hours ago on 10 December 2018 
By pr9c6tr3_juben



West Papua Liberation Army led by Egianus Kogoya – IST

Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) finally spoke up regarding the murder accusation over them. They admitted being responsible for the shooting of people identified as the employees of PT. Istaka Karya that are building the Trans-Papua road.
“We are responsible for that. There was gunfire, and it’s an attack, not execution as stated by the Indonesian security forces,” the spokesperson of TPNPB Sebby Sambom told Jubi by phone on Wednesday (5/12/2018) denying the statement released by the Indonesian Army.
Earlier, the Chief of Cenderawasih Military Public Affairs Colonel Muhamad Aidi that the employees of PT. Istaka Karya executed in a location identified as Puncak Kabo.
Meanwhile, the West Papua National Liberation Army Commander for Region III Ndugama Egianus Kogoya continued Sambom, gave an order to his man Pemne Kogoya to attack several people in the Aworak River, Yigi River and Military Post at Mbua Sub-district.
Furthermore, he said the liberation army had been observing those who worked nearby both rivers. “They are soldiers, Indonesia Army Corps of Engineers, not civilians,” continued Sambon who’s in Papua New Guinea during the telephone.
In 2016, the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing contracted the Army Engineer as a working partner to build the Trans Papua Road. This agreement then followed by the decree issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono through Presidential Decree No.40 of 2013 which became a reference for military involvement in the construction of the Trans-Papua Road which earlier named Accelerating Development Road of Papua and West Papua (P4B).
The Army engineers deployed a total of 394 personnel that consist of Detachment-10 and Detachment-12 to work on the roads along Wamena-Habema and Habema-Mbua. Meanwhile, Battalion-18 build the roads along Mbua-Mugi and Mugi-Paro, and Battalion-14 build the roads along Paro-Kenyam and Kenyam-Mamugu. Each group has 107 personnel.

Under observation of Liberation Army
For approximately three months, the West Papua National Liberation Army has observed the workers of bridges construction at both Aworak and Yigi rivers and Mbua Military Post to examine their movement.
“Those who work along the Aworak River, Yigi River are purely soldiers of Engineers Detachment. The liberation army also knew that those who work on the trans-road and bridges construction project along the roads of Habema, Juguru, Kenyam until Batas Batu are military,” said Sambom.
Furthermore, according to him, even though these men dressed in civilian clothes or not wearing the uniform, they are still military. He also said that the liberation army is not a group of criminal as often called by the Indonesian Security Force. The West Papua National Liberation Army is fighting for the independence of West Papuan nation that aimed to liberate West Papua from Indonesia.
 “We have delivered a statement of war at the beginning of 2018,” he said.
As quoted by tirto.id, the National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian said 20 people confirmed victims of murder in Nduga Regency Papua that consist of 19 employees of PT. Istaka Karya and a soldier.
“The temporary news reported 20 [victims], said Karnavian during a press conference held at the Presidential Palace Complex, Jakarta on Wednesday (05/12/2018).

Indonesian Propaganda
In the meantime, Benny Wenda, the Chairman of ULMWP, separately told Jubi (5/12) that the news of the workers’ massacres in Nduga as part of Indonesian propaganda.
“That’s my assumption. It happened due to the broader support from the Indonesian people to Papuans and their nation that showed on the last 1 December. So, Indonesia attempted to show the Indonesian people that Papuans are brutal and able to do massacre. This incident cannot be confirmed yet, but the narrative of ‘massacre’ has widely spread through social media,” said Wenda.
According to him, throughout 2018, before the ‘massacre’ of the bridge construction workers in Yigi Sub-district and the attack on the military post of Battalion Infantry-755/Yalet, there were at least several accusations launched by the Indonesian Army, including the shooting incident at Kenyam Airport, Nduga on 25 June; confinement and sexual violation against dozens of teachers and paramedics from 3 – 17 October in Mapenduma Sub-district, Nduga Regency.  (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier




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2) Papuan pastor fights for self-determination
Rev. Sofyan Socratez Yoman says Widodo's 'fixes' not enough as restive province still suffers human rights abuses




Rev. Sofyan Socratez Yoman says he will not bow to pressure from authorities. 'I speak about truth and I'm not afraid because fear imprisons us, creating room for even greater persecution,' he says. (Photo by Ryan Dagur/ucanews.com)


Ryan Dagur, Jayapura  Indonesia  December 10, 2018

Papuan pastor Sofyan Socratez Yoman has been subject to military surveillance and seen his books banned, yet he remains undeterred in his fight for self-determination for West Papua.

As chairman of the Communion of Baptist Churches in Papua, Yoman is known as one of the few religious leaders who chose to support the province's battle for independence.

"This is the responsibility of my faith, my conscience, so I won't compromise," he told ucanews.com in the Papuan city of Abepura on Nov. 22.

Since it was annexed by Indonesia in 1963, Papua, a Christian-majority region, has emerged as a conflict hot spotwith torture, killings and arrests rampant.

An Amnesty International report said 95 people were killed between January 2010 and February 2018. Of those, 56 were not related to pro-independence activities. Thirty-nine were linked to peaceful political activities, including raising the Papuan independence flag, the Morning Star.

Another report by the International Coalition for Papua found that the number of arrests quadrupled from 1,083 in 2015 to 5,361 in 2016, mostly during peaceful protests.

On Dec. 1, 560 university students and activists were arrested during rallies held in several cities to commemorate what Papuans claim to be the birth of the West Papua nation in 1961.
Earlier on Nov. 19, Jayapura police arrested 126 students as they celebrated the 10th anniversary of the West Papua National Committee, a pro-independence group.

As a witness to the litany of violence,56-year-old Yoman said: "I cannot choose silence. I have an obligation to stand with my sheep. During all that suffering, the cross was being carried by Papuans." 

Yoman uses various ways to voice his concerns — speaking from the pulpit, writing in the mass media, and authoring books.

He also raised his fears before former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when he joined several Papuan religious leaders at a special meeting in 2011.

"I told him [Yudhoyono] that Papuans wanted self-determination because we haven't felt any [positive] change since joining Indonesia," he said.

In October 2017, he wrote an open letter to President Joko Widodo reminding him that Papuans had lost confidence in the government.

 

Human rights first

Yoman criticized the government's claims that it has done many things for Papua, saying the government has not addressed the core problems plaguing the province.

He conceded that roads and bridges have been built during the era of President Widodo, who last visited on Nov. 19, to inaugurate the Time Capsule Monument in Merauke, but he saw this as mere gestures.

"He didn't get to the heart of the problem, such as the ongoing human rights violations or the absence of solutions to past abuses. Indonesia doesn't have any firm commitment to resolving those," he said.

He cites the shooting of four students in Paniai on Dec. 8, 2014, by security forces. "It happened in broad daylight and the perpetrators were soldiers. However, they still haven't been arrested," he said.

He also mentioned the murder of Dortheys Hiyo Eluay in 2001 in Jayapura. Eluay was chairman of the Papua Presidium Council, a tribal organization, and was considered a hero by many Papuans.

"In 2016, one of the killers, Hartomo, was appointed head of the Strategic Intelligence Agency," Yoman said.

Widodo has visited the province on multiple occasions but the kidnapping and murder of indigenous Papuans has not stopped, he said.

"When the violence continues and more Papuans die, then we ask, for whom is all this development being done by the government? Human dignity is far more important than anything else." 

 

Intimidation tactics

Yoman's outspoken views have seen him face various threats and forms of pressure.

In 2008, his book Eradication of Ethnic Melanesia: Breaking the Silence of the History of Violence in West Papua was banned by the government as it was considered a threat.

Three years later a leaked document of an Indonesian elite force listed him as the most watched figure in Papua.

But he claims he was never intimidated — or silenced. "I speak about truth and I'm not afraid because fear imprisons us, creating room for even greater persecution."

 

Hope for the church

Indigenous Papuans have hailed his efforts and those of other church leaders, even though most Catholics have not shown such courage.

"We hang our hope on people like him," said Agustinus Asso, 36, from Wamena. "What he says represents the will of the majority of Papuans. If all religious leaders could speak openly like him, the impact would be different, especially for human rights."

Papuan activists and students have urged Catholic bishops in the region to speak up about cases of rights abuse.

Franciscan Father Nico Syukur Dister, a professor at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology in Jayapura, wrote that "the real-politics in West Papua makes it impossible for the church to remain neutral and hide [its] position."

The question of Papuan independence seems to be a political subject, but he said "the distinction between politicians' concern and the church's concern loses its relevance the moment we ask whether or not every nation has a right to own a country."

Many Papuans, the Dutch-born priest said, consider themselves part of a separate nation, not just a tribe in Indonesia, where their decolonization process was interrupted by international politics and military infiltrations in 1963.

"This complicated historical process, combined with military oppression, human rights violations, marginalization and exploitation of resources caused their integration with Indonesia to feel more like a colonial occupation," Father Dister said.

"With respect to that reality, isn't it an injustice that Papua is not yet independent; shouldn't it be part of the church's concern to raise the injustice that occurs in Papua?" 

Markus Haluk, a Catholic and executive director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), said that support from religious leaders, especially to voice human rights issues, was very important.

"Their vocation is clear, namely, to voice the suffering of the people," he said. "If the church is silent on our suffering, then we will ask whether the church is still our future or not." 

The ULMWP was formed in 2014 as an umbrella organization uniting movements seeking independence.

Yoman said he hoped other religious leaders and congregations would follow his lead but that he plans to fight on regardless.

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3) Papuans arrested for marking Human Rights Day
30 minutes ago
Dozens of West Papuans have been arrested by Indonesian police for demonstrating to mark World Human Rights Day.
Reports from Indonesia indicated as many as 90 Papuans were taken in by police in Timika after holding a public event to support human rights.
The pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, has issued a statement saying its activists were among those taken in by police in Timika.
Offices of the KNPB's secretariat around Papua region were raided by police on 1 December, the anniversary of 1961's West Papuan declaration of independence.
Police arrested around 500 people for marking the anniversary last week.


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4) Papua killings revive debate on decades-old conflict

By  Deutsche Welle 2018/12/10 21:02
At least 20 people were killed in Nduga regency, Papua on December 2 after an armed group attacked the victims at a construction site. Nineteen of them were believed to be workers of the state-owned construction company PT Istaka Karya, which is currently building a bridge to connect Wamena and Mamugu as part of President Joko Widodo's flagship trans-Papua road project. One Indonesian Military (TNI) soldier also died in the attack.
Sebby Sambom, the spokesperson for the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) - an armed group with ties to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) - stated that his group was responsible for the bloody execution. He also insisted that his group had monitored the workers for several months and that they were military personnel in civilian clothes and not contruction workers. Sambom also said his group rejected the project. "We, TPNPB and the Papuans don't need the infrastructure from Indonesia, we only demand our independence," he told DW.
Following the killings, Indonesian president Joko Widodo ordered the army and the police to capture the people responsible for the murder. "There is no room for such armed groups in Papua or anywhere in Indonesia. We are not afraid. This only makes us more determined to continue our great duty to develop Papua," Widodo said at the presidential palace in Jakarta.
Human rights groups are worried that the government's response would lead to further unrest. "It is vital that the government response to the killings does not lead to further human rights violations," Amnesty International (AI) Indonesia's Executive Director Usman Hamid said, adding, "The unspeakable attacks must not be used as a pretext to roll back freedoms and a crack down on human rights."
Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch (HRW) also demanded a complete investigation saying, "Militants and responding security forces should not inflict harm on ordinary Papuans."
Read more: Trump hotel threatens to suck Bali dry

Fighting an old battle

Prior to the violent killings, around 500 activists were arrested in a nationwide police crackdown that coincided with rallies on December 1, a date that many Papuans consider as their independence day from Dutch colonialists. In a statement after the incident, Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote: "Our Office and UN human rights mechanisms have repeatedly raised concerns over recent years about the human rights situation in Papua."
Papua declared itself independent in 1961, creating its own national anthem and raising its national flag, called the Morning Star, next to the Dutch banner. Two years later, Indonesia began to assert its claim over the resource-rich province and officially took over Papua in 1969 with a United Nations- backed vote.
Papua has one of the world's largest gold and copper mines, operated by US firm Freeport McMoran, but this easternmost province in Indonesia remains the poorest. Freeport McMoran's mining activities have been widely held responsible for environmental destruction and exploitation of Papua's mineral resources, causing unrest in the region.
Military observer Aris Santoso said that the chain of violence that continued to this day could not be separated from that decolonization process. He criticized the fact that Jakarta had used violence in the past to restrict the aspirations of Papua's people. "The incident related to armed civilian groups in Nduga could be a response to the previous actions of Jakarta's elite, while the aspirations of the people in Papua themselves were ignored," Santoso told DW.
Made Supriatma, another Papua observer, said the government needed to start the peace process, but not before changing its mindset regarding the Papuans. "The Indonesian government believes that the dignity of Papuans can be achieved through development, especially infrastructure. If the authorities open up the isolated Papua areas, the economy would improve and the Papuans will feel better," he said.
In reality however, the opening of infrastructure would also mean the entry of economic competitors or outsiders, who would have better access to markets compared to the Papuans. "So now, if they were being asked, who would benefit from that development, the Papuans would say, we don't want the infrastructure," Supriatma told DW.

Human rights first

According to Supriatma, it is time for Jakarta to offer Papuans the dignity they deserve, and that the Indonesian government could begin by first dealing with human rights issues in that region. But before that, Indonesia needs to organize a referendum, Supriatma said, adding that it did not have to be like The Act of Free Choice (Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat, PEPERA) referendum that was held in 1969 to decide whether Papua should stay with Indonesia or become independent.
Experts have raised doubts about the plebiscite, with writers like Andrew J. Marshall and Bruce W. Behleer saying in their book "Ecology of Indonesian Papua" that several Papuans claimed they were forced to vote under pressure from the Indonesian military.
The new plebiscite would have to be different, Supriatma said: "Jakarta has to conduct a kind of plebiscite, not for asking whether Papua wants to join the Republic of Indonesia, but to ask them whether they want wider autonomy or not, and how the wider autonomy would be managed."
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