Saturday, February 16, 2019

Summary of events in West Papua

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Summary of events in West Papua  (15 Jan - 17  Feb 2019)

West Papuan petition
Thanks to Vanuatu,  Benny Wenda chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) presented  a petition to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, in Geneva . The petition was signed by 1.8 million West Papuans and  called for the decolonisation of West PapuaBenny Wenda, was included in an official delegation by the Vanuatu government to a meeting with Ms Bachelet. Indonesia’s Ambassador to the UN, Hasan Kleib, strongly condemned Vanuatu for helping Benny Wenda to meet with UN officials during one of its periodic review meetings. Hasan Kleib, alleged hat Mr Wenda has infiltrated the Vanuatu delegation  and that Vanuatu was disrespectful and had broken the principles of the UN charter by allowing Mr Wenda to deliver the petition. But Ralph Regenvanu,  Vanuatu's Foreign Minister said his government had always maintained its support for the self-determination of West Papuans and continues to advocate for the UN to revisit the controversial process by which Indonesia took control of the former Dutch New Guinea in the 1960s.

Indonesia Commits to Invite OHCHR on Papua Visit
Translator: Ricky Mohammad Nugraha    Editor: Laila Afifa  30 January 2019 
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Indonesian Government is committed to inviting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on a visit to Papua to show the actual condition of the region. “The Indonesian government continues to commit on inviting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, represented by the Bangkok regional headquarters to visit the region of Papua,” said Ambassador Hasan Kleib in a text message on Wednesday, January 30. This statement follows news from the OHCHR stating that it still awaits for the official invitation and request to access Papua on a humanitarian observation. According to Ambassador Hasan Kleib, the official invitation was directly sent to Zeid al Hussein who serves as UN high commissioner who paid a visit to Indonesia last year. Hasan maintains that the visit is not a question of ‘waiting for an official invitation or requesting access’ but is more of finding the agreed schedule to conduct the visit to Papua.

UN Human Rights office continues negotiations for West Papua visit
By Catherine Graue on Pacific Beat
Discussions are continuing between the Indonesian government and the United Nations to allow its human rights officials to enter the West Papua region, after an escalation of violence in recent months. Indonesia has re-issued its invitation to the global body, which it originally made in February 2018, but there are some concerns the proposed access may be postponed, as the country gears up for its national election in April. The spokesperson for UN Human rights office Ravina Shamdasani said there is still no clarity on the dates. "We're hoping they'll be able to agree on dates very soon," she told Pacific Beat. "Quite often it does take time for these visits to materialise. There's a fair bit of back and forth between the UN and the Government. In the UN Human Rights office, we always insist on unfettered, unconditional access when we do get access, which means we should be able to meet with not only government officials but also civil society activists, of our choosing and we should be able to visit without any undue constraint.
"Having said that, it has taken awhile so we are hoping this will materialise soon". Duration: 8min 55sec Broadcast: Fri 15 Feb 2019, 7:00am

The fallout from the Indonesian security in the Nduga region continues with thousands of civilians fleeing including over 300 children.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua says thousands of civilians displaced and 10 shot by Indonesian military
Three babies who died during childbirth are among the civilian deaths West Papuan leaders are blaming on a brutal crackdown by Indonesian forces in the region of Nduga. They are calling for Indonesia to allow humanitarian and medical agencies access to the area, as well as foreign media. Since West Papuan guerrillas launched a deadly attack on a Nduga construction site in early December, Indonesia has conducted heavily armed operations in and around the jungle in a bid to track them down. The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) claims thousands of civilians have been displaced, 10 people have been shot by Indonesian military (TNI) – six of them killed – and several people have been detained and allegedly tortured.

AWPA wrote to DFAT concerning the sweep on the 18 December
DFAT reply to AWPA letter (22 Jan)

"Stop the Genocide in West Papua" rallies took place around Australia  (12 Feb.)  and in support of the people of Nduga.

Photo. Peter Boyle (GLW) 

"Stop the Genocide in West Papua" rallies took place around Australia  (12 Feb.)  in support of the people of Nduga,  where thousands of people have fled (including over 300 children) to the forest and other towns.                                                                                           

More photos of Sydney rally at

Experts recommend military withdrawal from West Papua region
By Catherine Graue on Pacific Beat
Calls for the West Papua region to be granted independence continued this week as activists took to the streets in various Australian cities, calling for the Federal government to support an independence referendum.

320 Children Take Refuge in Jayawijaya due to Firefights in Nduga
Translator:  Antara Editor:  Petir Garda Bhwana 10 February 2019 

 Photo in Tempo

TEMPO.COJakarta - Some 320 children from Nduga district in Papua province have fled to the neighboring Jayawijaya district along with their parents or on their own, as firefights are ongoing between the armed criminal group and security personnel. The children are students of 10 elementary schools, five junior high schools and two senior high schools in Nduga district, Ence Geong, a member of the team in charge of handling Nduga refugees, said in Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya district, on Friday, Feb 8. "When we gathered them at this church building on Monday (February 4), their number ran into more than five hundred. Since their number is large, they were accommodated at the church which has a capacity of accommodating 800 to 1000 people," Geong said.

He said the team is still coordinating with several parties to set up emergency schooling so that the children could continue to study. "We need other supporting facilities, such as student dormitories because some of them live far from the school here," he said. The refugees come from several sub-districts including Mbua, Yal, Ndal, Mapenduma, Nirkuri, Mbulmu Yalma, Ininggal, Mam and Iniye. Headmaster of Yigi elementary school Ledy B Welly, who is also taking refuge in Jayawijaya, said the children continued to study although the number of classrooms and learning facilities is limited. "We have not studied for more than one month. To catch up with our studies, the teachers will hold a meeting to find a solution," he said. ANTARA

Over 80 teachers take refuge following exchanges of fire in Papua
Reporter: Antara  13 February

School children in Nduga subdistrict have taken refuge in safer places in the Jayawijaya District's areas following exchanges of fires between armed Papuan rebels and security personnel. (ANTARA News/Marius Frisson Yewun)

Wamena, Papua, (ANTARA News) - Over 80 teachers along with several hundred of their students have taken refuge in safer places in the Jayawijaya District's areas following recent exchanges of fires between armed Papuan rebels and security personnel.A teacher in Nduga Sub-district, Jayawijaya District, Papua Province, informed Antara here on Wednesday that the teaching staff, who have taken refuge, teach at 10 elementary schools, five junior high schools, and two senior high schools in the sub-district area. "We cannot as yet give you further information on this matter. Let the head of the sub-district's educational affairs office do that," the teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted.
A total of 406 students fled their houses without carrying along their school equipment, such as books, pencils, and pens, owing to the shock and trauma they experienced on hearing the sounds of exchanging gunfires.

Meanwhile, Ence Geong, coordinator of the Voluntary Team for Assisting Nduga Sub-district's Refugees, noted in the Sinakma area of Jayawijaya District that the local authorities continue to gather detailed information on the displaced teachers. "According to our statistical data, there are 120 teachers in Nduga Sub-district," he remarked, adding that the teachers taking refuge will be placed in emergency classrooms, so that their students could still be taught. Those teachers would be spread across 12 classrooms. "We are so thankful for the teachers' initiatives to give each of their students a book and pen," Geong noted.

A circle of violence remains unstoppable in the Indonesian province of Papua. On February 2, 2019, a civilian was gunned down by armed Papuan rebels in a village of Jayawijaya District. This murder of Sugeng Efendi, a resident of Wuyukwi Village, Mulia Sub-district, has increased the death toll of civilians in the hands of armed Papuan rebels following the killings of 31 construction workers in December 2018. The 25-year-old kiosk keeper was shot dead by an armed Papuan rebel on Saturday evening. Efendi's murder took place two days after the Free Papua Movement (OPM) announced its official support for its armed wing's declaration of war against Indonesia. According to Radio New Zealand (RNZ), the announcement was made by OPM spokesman Jeffrey Bomanak at a press conference held in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea, on January 31, 2019. RNZ quoted Bomanak as saying that the war against the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia "would not end until Jakarta agreed to meet for peaceful negotiations, for which the OPM is establishing a team of negotiators." In fact, over the past year, the armed Papuan separatists had not only campaigned a series of killings of civilians and security personnel, but they were also involved in other serious crimes, such as holding civilians and hostages and raping the victims.
Reporting by Marius Frisson Yewun, Rahmad Nasution Editor: Sri Haryati

Indonesian military to complete Trans-Papua Highway
Officials working on a troubled road project in Papua say Indonesia's military will complete the job this year. In December, at least 16 Indonesians working on the Trans-Papua Highway in Nduga province were massacred by fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army. The project was put on hold with the military saying it would take over work on the 4000 kilometre highway. Combat engineers will reportedly carry out the construction, with hundreds of extra security personnel deployed to the area. Detik News reports a military battalion has been assigned to the building of the project's remaining 16 bridges. Indonesian army engineers had already been working on the Trans-Papua Highway project for a number of years. Military involvement in the project was cited by the Liberation Army as a central reason for killing the road workers, who were suspected of being soldiers. (RNZI 30 January 2019) 

Forum SG says Vanuatu position on self-determination issue admirable
Vanuatu has always been very principled in its approach to West Papua, in the issue of self-determination of any country, particularly in our own region, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor said. She says the approach by Vanuatu is a very admirable position to take. Dame Taylor says some of the countries don’t come out as strongly as Vanuatu.

“There are countries that have different views on this but they have come together with a collective decision. “In all their communiques they (Forum Leaders) have expressed their concerns about human rights issues until last year. “Last year they instructed the secretariat to keep a more proactive engagement with Indonesia,” she stated in an interview with Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM. Dame Taylor said last year Prime Minister O’neil addressed the University of the South Pacific and raised human rights issue and has been supportive of UN Human Rights Commission Mission to go into West Papua.
“I myself as SG met with Human Rights Commissioner last year when they came through the Pacific after they visited Jakarta, we raised the issue as well that, that is what we want to see. “From the Secretariat itself what we have done over the last two years is we’ve gone into West Papua and Papua provinces to observe the elections there to see indigenous West Papuan people participate in those processes. “Our reports are written and are sent out to member states. “The situation of West Papua in the last couple of weeks has been desperate.
“People have died. People from Java and other provinces but most of all people of Melanesian decent, there have been tragedies there. “I understand Indonesian Government has asked for the UN Mission to go in. “Pacific countries should be on that (UN) mission,” Dame Taylor said. (Vanuatu Daily Post Feb 13, 2019)

Free Papua Movement looks to PNG to push for negotiations
The Free West Papua Movement, or OPM, says it has political support in Papua New Guinea to push for negotiations with Indonesia. Along with its armed wing, the West Papua Liberation Army, the OPM plans to hold a press conference in PNG's capital next week The Port Moresby press conference scheduled for the last day of January is expected to unveil the OPM's plans for proposed negotiations with Indonesia. It will also address a humanitarian crisis in the central Highlands of Indonesian-ruled Papua. It's in this remote region where the Liberation Army's fight with Indonesian security forces escalated significantly late last year. OPM and Liberation Army spokesmen gathering in Moresby said the conflict must be ended peacefully. Port Moresby's governor, Powes Parkop, is expected to join them at the conference to directly invite Indonesia's government to the negotiating table, they said. In recent weeks, Mr Parkop has publicly called for PNG to push for an independence referendum for West Papuans. However, Jakarta has previously refused to negotiate with either the OPM or the Liberation Army, branding them criminal groups.  (RNZI 23 January 2019)

PNG civil society group wants change on Papua policy
Civil society groups in Papua New Guinea are urging the government to speak out about violent conflict in the neighbouring Papua region of Indonesia.
This comes amid a recent escalation of conflict between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces in Papua's Central Highlands. The chairman of PNG's Union For Free West Papua, Kenn Mondiai said Papua New Guineans are deeply concerned about the conflict but their government remains silent. He said 1986's Treaty of Mutual Respect, Friendship and Co-operation with Indonesia restricts PNG from speaking out. "At the political level government's hands are tied because of that 1986 treaty. But as Papua New Guinean and Melanesian civil society organisations, we Melanesians are sick and tired of the manner in which the Indonesian government and the Indonesian military and the police force, their brutality," Kenn Mondiai said. Mr Mondiai said civil society wanted PNG's government to change it policy on West Papua to become more proactive in pushing for solutions across the border. 

Indonesian security forces have been searching villages in Puncak Jaya for members of the West Papua Liberation Army. Photo: Supplied

He said he was encouraged by PNG involvement in efforts by the Pacific Council of Churches to visit Indonesia, including Papua, to gauge the latest human rights situation. However, PNG's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato says his government is working to support the economic development approach that Jakarta is taking in Papua region as the best response to West Papuan issues. Mr Pato recently said the two countries had been planning and implementing joint projects in their common border areas.
Meanwhile, the PNG Union For Free West Papua is assisting representatives the Liberation Army and Free West Papua Movement (OPM) in preparation for a planned press conference on Thursday in PNG's capital Port Moresby.

The representatives are expected to address the humanitarian crisis in the Central Highlands, and unveil the OPM's plans for proposed negotiations with Indonesia. Indonesia's Political, Legal and Security Minister Wiranto recently told media that the government would not enter any discussions with the Army, who Jakarta describes as a criminal group. (RNZI 29 January 2019) 

Juffa plans to push for bill to separate region
February 4, 2019The NationalBy CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
Northern Governor Gary Juffa says he will push for a bill in the Parliament to call for Pacific leaders to separate the region from the overall Asia-Pacific region.
He said this on Thursday during the West Papua forum in Port Moresby.
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop and officers from the United States Embassy and Australian High Commission also attended.

Juffa said the Pacific region had to be separate from Asia in order to gain international attention for human rights abuses against people of West Papua Province of Indonesia.“I will be calling for the other 21 governors to push in the National Parliament for all Pacific leaders to call for our own Pacific region at an international forum,” he said.“Right now we are in the Asia-Pacific region. Issues in Asia get the prominence while issues in the Pacific are being brushed aside”.
Parkop said Bougainville in PNG and West Papua in Indonesia faced similar political futures.

“We should not be afraid of Bougainville choosing their future in the referendum that will be held this year, just like Indonesia should not be afraid of West Papuans determining their own future,” he said.“We should not be afraid if Bougainville chooses independence,“They will not move the island of Bougainville to Europe or another place in the world.“They will still be there.“We are all inter-married now.
“There are family and tribal relationships been bonded already.“We might have a better future because if you look at the history of PNG, because of Bougainville, we were political and economically shaped.”Parkop said the same message must be told to Indonesia.“Indonesian must know that if West Papua becomes independent, they will not move the land to the United States,” he said. “They will still stay there.“The people speak Bahasa.They are intermarriages already been forged and established with people from other parts of Indonesia.
“Economically, they can be integrated.“Socially, they can still move around in Indonesia.”

Indonesian police have acknowledged officers terrorised a Papuan man with a snake after a video of the incident circulated online showing the man screaming in fear while his interrogator laughed. Police in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region apologised but also attempted to justify the officers’ actions by saying the snake was not venomous and that they hadn’t resorted to beating the man, who was suspected of theft. Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman – who circulated the upsetting video – said on Sunday the interrogation methods were torture and violated police policies as well as several laws. She said it was only the latest of several reports of police and military officials using snakes to terrorise Papuan detainees and symptomatic of a culture of racism against indigenous Papuans.

International award for film about journalism in West Papua
RNZI 13 February 2019
A short documentary which highlights the risks of being a journalist in Indonesian-ruled Papua region, or West Papua, has won an international film award.Aprila, directed by Rohan Radheya, took out the best short film award at the 16th Pacific Fifo Documentary Film Festival in French Polynesia.The Dutch journalist and film-maker's documentary tells the story of a young local journalist who stopped doing her job after receiving death threats.According to Fifo's website, audience members in Tahiti expressed interest in the insight the film offered into a region and freedom struggle largely unknown to the world. Mr Radheya said while international attention on Papua often focused on restrictions that Jakarta placed on access for foreign journalists, the plight of local journalists was ignored. "What we endure as foreign journalists is nothing compared to what local indigenous journalists in Papua are facing," he said.

Indonesia: Free Three Papuan Activists 
Arrests for Peaceful Protest Highlights Police Abuse of Treason Laws

Yanto Awerkion (far left) detained in the Timika police station in September 2017 for his role in organizing a petition calling on the UN to organize a referendum in Papua. 

(Jakarta) – Indonesian authorities should release and drop treason charges against three Papuan activists for peaceful advocacy in the Papua mining town of Timika, Human Rights Watch said today. The Indonesian government is currently imprisoning at least nine people from Papua and the Moluccan Islands for exercising their rights to freedom of expression. Police in Timika arrested Yanto Awerkion, Sem Asso, and Edo Dogopia of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), a student association, on December 31, 2018 when they were organizing a prayer gathering to commemorate the group’s fifth anniversary. Papuan human rights groups reported that the police arrested and beat nine KNPB members. On January 7, charges were only brought against the three for treason (makar) under articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code. Article 106 carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. They are currently being held in Papua’s capital, Jayapura.

Comments/media releases/reports etc.

in the  Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity Volume 6 Issue 2 2018  Published in February 2019,  Gold Coast, Australia by the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity ISSN: 2203-3114


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West Papuans: An indigenous people that the world forgot


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