Monday, February 25, 2019

1) Merdeka - Papua cries for freedom

2) World Council of Churches shows solidarity with West Papua following visit

3) KNPB activists assaulted and arrested for wearing Morning Star logo

1) Merdeka - Papua cries for freedom
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Church leaders raise concern over human rights
JAKARTA. Continued serious human rights violations and a progressing marginalization of indigenous Papuans has been observed by an international delegation of 27 representatives of the World Council of Churches who visited Indonesia between February 13 – 22.  The members urged the Government of  Indonesia to take firm action to uphold the rule of law and hold accountable those who have committed human rights violations in the past.
As a part of the “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace”  the delegation was hosted by the PGI (Communion of Churches in Indonesia) and by the GKI (Protestant Church in Papua) and met representatives of churches, civil society and government in Jakarta, Java and in the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat. Parts of the delegation visited churches and communities of other religions in Surabaya, and met with authorities, churches and civil society representatives in Port Numbay, Merauke, Wamena  and Manokwari.
The delegation is very grateful for the access granted to them after the last visit in 1999 and hopes that this marks the opening of the region to the international community, including the announced  access for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 
“We were overwhelmed by the suffering of the victims and civil society representatives we met”, said Peter Prove,  Director for International Affairs of the WCC.  “We heard from indigenous Papuans who face discrimination in the education and health care sector. They suffer from land-grabbing and are denied access to their own forest. In remote regions particularly, the lack of adequate access to public services leaves people with a sense of being second class citizens in their own traditional land”, Prove continued. The group was affected by the ongoing destruction of the environment as a result of the exploitation of the country’s natural resources.
The delegation met with survivors of the Nduga armed conflict where a military response to the killing of construction workers has affected the civilian population in the area. Hundreds had fled the region.
“The displaced persons of these combat zones fear to return because of intimidation by security forces”, Prove stressed. “The protection of these people must be ensured.” The delegation is deeply concerned that the political conflict relating to the region continues to be a source of armed violence causing the death and suffering of civilians. 
In a pastoral appeal by church leaders of the two Papuan provinces, the WCC was requested to call for a mediated conflict resolution process. “Papuans requested that Indonesia holds a dialogue with the ULMWP“, Peter Prove explained and underlined: “A peaceful dialogue between the parties in conflict should commence as soon as possible. The approach of a mediated dialogue has proven to be an effective conflict resolution measure in other cases like the one in Aceh.”
The participants of the pilgrim team visit were shocked and deeply disturbed that the massive human rights violations since 1969 remain unresolved. None of the cases of gross violations of human rights has effectively been brought to justice. Many appear not to have been documented yet by the National Human Rights Commission.
The WCC pilgrimage took place in cooperation with the Pacific Conference of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia, the United Evangelical Mission and was accompanied by Roman Catholic partner organizations. In 1961 the Netherlands granted independence to the people of West Papua as it gave up control of  the Dutch East Indies. The Morning Start flag was raised on December 1 but Indonesia, after an initial failed invasion, coerced the United Nations to hold a staged referendum in which 1000 select Papuans voted for affiliation with Indonesia. The move was supported by the United States and Australia who had strategic interests in Papua.

A short history
 In 1961 the Netherlands granted independence to the people of West Papua as it gave up control of  the Dutch East Indies. The Morning Start flag was raised on December 1 but Indonesia, after an initial failed invasion, coerced the United Nations to hold a staged referendum in which 1000 select Papuans voted for affiliation with Indonesia. The move was supported by the United States and Australia who had strategic interests in Papua.  After years of human rights abuse at the hands of Indonesian security forces and a separatist war staged by Papuan freedom fighters, a new battle has emerged. Indonesia has started to move thousands of non-Papuans into the territory in an attempt to create a new ethnic base. The act has been termed modern-day genocide by human rights groups.

Pacific church stand
The  churches of Papua were instrumental in the formation of the PCC. After Indonesian annexation in 1968 the Papuan churches became Asian-focussed. This changed in 2013 after the PCC and its members lobbied for an act of self-determination in West Papua and its inscription in the UN Decolonisation list. After a visit to West Papua by PCC Moderator, Reverend Dr Tevita Havea, in 2014 two Papuan churches - the Gereja Kristen Injil di Tannah Papua and the KINGMI church - rejoined the Pacific fold. The PCC continues to call for West Papuans to be allowed to choose freely their political future.

A region united
PACIFIC church leaders have rallied around the PCC call for self-determination in West Papua. This has led to the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu calling at the United Nations for decolonisation. A PCC initiative also saw the formation of a coalition of Papuan freedom groups to form the United Front for the Liberation of West Papua in 2015.

Police seize Papua flag
In November 2015 PCC staff raised the Morning Star flag in Suva, Fiji to commemorated West Papuan independence. The flag was visible to people in the Indonesian Embassy who rang the Fiji Prime Minister's Office to complain. Minutes later police arrived at the PCC Secretariat and seized the flag. The action came on a day when youth activists held peaceful protests and a church service in solidarity with West Papua's people. 

2) World Council of Churches shows solidarity with West Papua following visit

February 25, 2019 in Human Rights

This month, the World Council of Churches sent a delegation to West Papua in solidarity with the West Papuan people and to help understand the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. The WCC travelled across West Papua, including to the Nduga region where thousands of internally displaced refugees from ongoing Indonesian military operations met them. One West Papuan stated, “Mr. Church Council Help Us. We want to be independent. We have travelled by foot, risking lives. Many congregations are victims.”
Following the visit, the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) released a statement calling for all those who have committed human rights violations to be held accountable and affirmed their call for West Papua’s self-determination and decolonisation.
The WCC also released a statement raising their deep concerns on the ongoing human rights crisis and calling for the fundamental rights of the West Papuan people to be respected. 
An ecumenical delegation coordinated by the World Council of Churches (WCC) visited Indonesia on 15-22 February, including the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat – where increasing violence and discrimination against indigenous Papuan people was recently highlighted in a joint statement by five UN human rights mandate-holders.
The purpose of the ecumenical delegation’s visit was to express solidarity and encourage member churches and related organizations in their efforts for justice and peace in Indonesia. Organized as part of the WCC’s ‘Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace’, the visit focused on issues concerning religious freedom and inter-religious harmony in Indonesia, and the human rights situation in Papua. The delegation was hosted by the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) and the Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua (GKI-TP).
Delegation members visited churches and their Muslim community partners in Surabaya, where suicide bomb attacks took place in May 2018, and welcomed the extraordinary inter-communal and inter-religious solidarity they observed in that context. However, in a meeting with Minister for Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin delegation members also expressed concern over still high numbers of prosecutions under Indonesia’s blasphemy law, and the ways in which the 2006 Religious Harmony Law is used to marginalize religious minorities
During their visit to the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat, delegation members met local church leaders, victims of human rights violations and conflict, traditional leaders, the governors of both provinces and other local government representatives, and Indonesian military and police officials in Jayapura, Manokwari, Merauke and Wamena. “Access to the Papua region has been severely restricted in the past,” noted WCC Director for International Affairs Peter Prove. “We greatly appreciate the fact that Indonesian authorities enabled our delegation’s visit to take place, and we hope that this will be the beginning of more openness and increased access for others to the territory and its people.”
Nevertheless, members of the delegation were alarmed to hear from almost all the Papuans they met of the severity of the problems they continue to face. Dr Jochen Motte, Deputy General Secretary of United Evangelical Mission said, “as somebody who had the opportunity to be part of the WCC team visit in 1999, it was sad to realize that the issues mentioned in the report at that time today are almost the same and that the Special Autonomy Status …could not meet the expectations of the Papuan people and bring an end to discrimination and human rights violations.” The Special Autonomy Law was enacted in 2001 as a basis for Papuans to play a role in determining their own political, social, cultural and economic development within the Republic of Indonesia, but almost all Papuans the delegation members encountered – including local government officials – considered Special Autonomy a failure, and that its most important elements had not been implemented.
The delegation was concerned to learn that due to migration and demographic shifts, indigenous Papuans now form a minority in their own land. Landgrabbing, environmental degradation and accelerating destruction of the forest and river resources upon which Papuans’ livelihoods traditionally depended were frequent complaints heard by the delegation. According to Papuan counterparts the prevailing development model in the territory “is for others, not for us.” Indeed, Dr Emily Welty, vice moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, observed: “Papuan people seem to be systemically marginalized and excluded in all areas of life.”
In Wamena and Jayapura, delegation members met internally-displaced people who had fled from conflict and Indonesian military and police operations in the Nduga region following an incident on 2 December 2018 in which 21 road construction workers were reported killed by an armed group. The total number of IDPs is unknown, but many are thought to be still taking refuge in the forest without support. Bishop Abednego Keshomshahara of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania said, “it was painful to see so many child victims of this violence who fear to return home because of the presence of military and police who should be the ones protecting them in their villages and schools.”
During the visit to Papua the delegation received a joint appeal from the leaders of four churches in Papua – the GKI-TP, the KINGMI Church in Tanah Papua, the Evangelical Church in Tanah Papua (GIDI), and the Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua – calling for international ecumenical support for a comprehensive political dialogue for the resolution of the situation in Papua. “It is clear,” said Rev. James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, “that dialogue without preconditions is the only path forward in such a situation as we encountered in Papua.”
via reg.westpapua list

3) KNPB activists assaulted and arrested for wearing Morning Star logo

Tabloid JUBI - February 25, 2019

Edho Sinaga, Jayapura -- A child and nine West Papua National Committee (KNPB) activists in Merauke were arrested by the Merauke district police on Saturday February 23.

Five-year-old Martina Yawon was arrested as he was walking with nine KNPB members who were wearing the Morning Star (BK) flag logo on their shirts.

Merauke KNPB activist Almasu and regional chairperson Marius Kapeng said that the incident left Martina frightened and traumatised after witnessing the others being assaulted and arrested.

"We had come from the [KNPB} secretariat then gone to the New Market, where they sell areca, we ate areca as we were returning home via Jl. Brawijaya, still wearing shirts with the BK and KNPB logos. But around 50 meters from there's a Kopassus [army Special Forces] mess. Apparently they were already watching us and we were stopped by three Kopassus officers riding a white Ranger car", Kapeng told Jubi on Monday February 25.

According to Kapeng, the Kopassus members tried to force him and his companions to remove the shirts with the Morning Star symbol. Because they refused, several of them were abused then taken to the district police (Polres) station where they were again forced to remove the shirts.

"We were detained because we refused to take off the shirts, one of our friends was throttled and slapped in the face by one of the Kopassus officers. Several minutes later they contacted the Marauke Polres and three patrol vehicles arrived and took us away to Polres. We were forced to write down our names and our clothing was taken, after that we were sent home", said Kapeng.

Responding to the incident, KNBP Merauke chairperson Manuel Metemko said he deplored the arrest and abuse of the activists especially because it was done in front of an infant. According to Metemko, Indonesian security personnel cannot just arrest people for what they are wearing.

"We are protected by the 1945 Constitution Article 28 and Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights. So the actions by security forces were excessive. This kind of pattern needs to change so it doesn't happen again", said Metemko.

Metemko said that freedom of opinion and expression does not exist at all in Papua. Yet, the activists did not raise the Morning Star flag, they only wore shirts with the logo. He questioned what was wrong with wearing such clothing.

"There's no democracy in the land of Papua. Security forces intimidate us. Security forces intimidate Papuan people there. We want police to be professional in carrying out their duties", he said.

Jubi attempted to confirm the incident with Merauke district police chief Assistant Superintendent Bahara Marpaung but as of posting this article there has been no response to the SMS message sent by Jubi.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aktivis KNPB di Merauke dianiaya aparat keamanan di depan Balita".]

INDOLEFT News service


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