Monday, April 29, 2019

1) West Papuan leader who advocated compromise dies


2) ‘It opened my eyes’: the Indonesian woman fighting for West Papuan rights
3)  Papua Highlands emergency school roll grows

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1) West Papuan leader who advocated compromise dies

RNZI 6:04 pm today 
Johnny Blades Johnny Blades, RNZ Pacific 

A former West Papuan independence campaigner who became an Indonesian government supporter, Franzalbert Joku, has died in Jayapura.
Mr Joku, who controversially advocated autonomy for Papua within Indonesia rather than independence, died yesterday aged 66 after illness linked with heart disease and kidney failure.
He was a prominent landowner from Sentani and formerly the spokesman for the Papua Presidium Council which galvanised momentum in the West Papuan independence struggle at the turn of the century.
But the 'Papua Spring' was short-lived, while the Presidium lost ground after Indonesian military special forces assassinated its charismatic leader Theys Eluay.
Although a key supporter of Eluay, Franzalbert Joku eventually threw his support behind the Special Autonomy Status which Indonesia granted Papua in 2001 in response to the demands for independence.
After fleeing Indonesian rule in his homeland as a younger man, Mr Joku returned for good in 2008.
He became a frequent representative of Indonesia's government on West Papua matters at regional fora such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Forum.
A gifted orator with extensive links in the region, Franzalbert Joku came to the conclusion that independence was not a realistic option, and that Papuans should focus their energies on being part of the Indonesian state.
"Now I say this without meaning to undermine my brothers and sisters who are still out there in the jungle or in other countries advocating outright independence," he told RNZ Pacific in 2015.
"I just look at the issues and try to place them within the context and try to look at what options are within the realm of possibilities."
Mr Joku's shifting of allegiances has made him a distrusted figure among many in the West Papuan independence movement.
But when asked last year in his last interview with RNZ Pacific about whether Papua should have independence, Mr Joku said a "deeper look at the issues" was required.
"Independence, for some of us, doesn't mean an instant action of declaring a sovereign nation," he said.
"I think it's more a value. In order to find that value of freedom, of being independent, it is a continuing process.
"I differ between being an independent, sovereign nation of Papua, than being free and well-off economically, socially within a government structure that is in existence today," he explained.
"Like in any other political processes, you can never win outright. You always end up with political compromise."
"Special Autonomy, however imperfect and incomplete it may be, is an acceptable political compromise, and we need to grab hold of it earnestly, and make it serve our interests.”


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2) ‘It opened my eyes’: the Indonesian woman fighting for West Papuan rights

Helen Davidson   Mon 29 Apr 2019 10.44 AEST Last modified on Mon 29 Apr 2019 13.24 AEST  

Lawyer Veronica Koman has been called a traitor and faced death threats as part of her legal battle to hold Indonesia’s police to account





West Papuan activist Victor Yeimo and Indonesian lawyer Veronica Koman at the United Nations in New York. Photograph: Veronica Koman


An Indonesian human rights lawyer is among those taking the Indonesian police to court on behalf of all West Papuans, in an unprecedented civil case over what she claims is the illegal takeover of an activist group’s headquarters.
Veronica Koman is part of a legal coalition bringing the civil suit which is the first of its kind, and although it focuses on one particular incident, is seen as a landmark case in the fight for West Papuan independence from Indonesia.
The case – she is pursing police for more than $100,000 in damages over their raid of an activist group’s headquarters on New Year’s Eve – has come at a personal cost.
Koman, who is based in Indonesia but travels to West Papua to represent those charged with separatism-related crimes, told the Guardian her work has led to abuse and death threats.

At a December rally she and others were pelted with rocks by fellow Indonesians, and she became the specific target of anti-separatist protests, sending her into hiding. “It was pretty rough … people were screaming at me: ‘you traitor, you are funding this separatism’,” she said.
Koman said she used to be “very nationalistic” when she was working as a legal aid officer in Jakarta. But when she learned of the shooting deaths of four schoolchildren by Indonesian authorities in December 2014 she became involved in public demonstrations and met West Papuan independence activists.
“Once I heard about the 2014 killings case and I started to learn more about West Papua… and it really opened my eyes. That’s my mission now, to expose what’s happening in West Papua.”
“I learn bravery and resilience from the West Papuan people. It really changed my life – how I see it, and how I see resistance.”
Koman and other local West Papuan lawyers are representing an activist group called the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) in the legal claim against the Mimika branch of Indonesia’s Papua police over the New Year’s Eve raid. “Hundreds of fully armed police and military came at 6am,” Koman said of the raid. She is also representing people charged with treason offences and alleges several were seriously injured and showed signs of “excessive force” by police.

Koman said KNPB had become a “hub” for the local community, running social programs, prayer meetings, and mediating tribal disputes. “They were sleeping in the headquarters – it’s not just people discussing independence all the time.”
The Papuan regional police said they were taking over the building as a joint security post with the military and say they were within their rights to seize control of the building because it belonged to the local government, which had given it to the local community. Authorities have also said the land belonged to Freeport, the operator of the nearby Grasberg gold and copper mine.
Koman and the KNPB dispute this, saying they have written evidence from the Amingme customary owners that the land was given to them.

It is difficult to gain a true picture of the struggle. Foreign media is banned from entering West Papua, and misinformation is common. “Indonesian security forces tend to underplay what is happening – the numbers etc – while West Papuan’s tend to overplay,” Koman says.
However she believes the majority of it comes from Indonesia, which she says engages in “total distortion”.
“That’s why I understand [Indonesians’] way of thinking – I was one of them,” she said. “We in Jakarta don’t hear about the human rights violations.”
Around the time of the raid on the Timika headquarters, authorities arrested several activists as part of treason investigations, later charging three, whom Koman represented at a trial last week.
“They’re facing up to 20 years of imprisonment for treason, for ridiculous reasons – for praying and wanting to hold their traditional ceremony,” she said.
A second trial sees two KNPB members charged with “disobedience against authority”, which carries prison sentences of up to two years, she said.
The trials come amid a months-long escalation in the long-running civil conflict, after separatist militants attacked a construction site, killing at least 17 people.
The militants claimed all those killed were Indonesian military, but Indonesia said they were civilian construction workers, and launched a crackdown on the region, which continues. On Friday, Indonesian authorities said two soldiers had been injured in an ambush by rebels.
Indonesian authorities have also alleged election organisers in Papua were attacked by armed militia.
The court is expected to make a decision on the civil case in coming weeks.
Indonesia’s representatives in Australia have been contacted for comment.

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3)  Papua Highlands emergency school roll grows
12:44 pm today 


Volunteer education services continue for West Papuan children displaced by ongoing conflict in the Highlands.
Nduga regency has been the focal point of fighting between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesia's military.
The military increased its operations in the region after the Liberation Army massacred at least sixteen road construction workers in early December.
Since then, dozens of people have been killed and many injured in ongoing exchanges, sending local communities fleeing to the bush.
Over two thousand villagers fled to Wamena in neighbouring Jayawijaya regency.
The Humanity Volunteer Team of Nduga has been helping displaced communities in Wamena with food, health and education needs.
The team's co-ordinator, Ence Florian, said the emergency temporary school which the team established for displaced children continued to grow.
"At the beginning we started with 320 students from Nduga, but now we have 730 students from Nduga."
Mr Florian, who is also executive secretary of the Lotus Heart Foundation of Papua, said the students were from fifteen elementary schools, five secondary schools, and one high school

He said that the displaced villagers were struggling to find shelter, but in some cases they were able to stay with relatives or friends in the neighbouring regency.
"There are some houses where there are about fifty people in one house," Mr Florian explained.
According to him, there are also about 700 displaced Papuans in Lanny Jaya regency.
Meanwhile, in the latest bout of fighting in Nduga, two Indonesian soldiers were shot last week and hospitalised in Mimika regency.
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