Sunday, June 16, 2019

Summary of events in West Papua (17 May -17 June 2019)

AWPA update
Summary of events in West Papua  (17 May -17 June 2019)

Frightened and displaced, Papua children haunted by conflict 
Thousands of boys and girls remain in shelters after fleeing battles between Indonesian army and independence fighters.
by Febriana Firdaus  5 Jun 2019

Children sit on benches at a temporary school built for those feeling unrest in Nduga [Febriana Firdaus/Al Jazeera]

Wamena, Indonesia - Under the pine trees, a nine-year-old girl is sitting on a blue tarpaulin, rubbing her feet. For the past six months, she's been living in a church-run shelter after escaping the chaos that enveloped her village in Nduga, a remote highland region in the western part of the island of Papua. "I was just sitting in my house and a 'bomb' dropped from the sky," she said, recalling the bang of what could have been a grenade. "I fled with my family," the young girl continued. "I saw houses were burning. We walked and slept like nomads in the jungle for three weeks." She is one of an estimated 35,000 civilians, many of them children, forced from their homes in the remote territory's central highlands as the military attempted to root out Papuan independence fighters who attacked a road construction project in December last year, killing at least 17 people.

Major General Sisriadi, a spokesman for Indonesia's armed forces, told Al Jazeera 600 troops had been sent to the area in what he described as a law enforcement operation to support the police. "As mentioned in our constitution, we must defend our country's land," Sisriadi said. "We have to do anything to defend it." Indonesia took control of the vast and remote territory bordering Papua New Guinea in 1969 after a controversial referendum in which only 1,026 people were allowed to participate. The vote gave new momentum to the separatist West Papua National Liberation Army, which has continued the struggle for independence ever since.
The region is Indonesia's poorest, despite its wealth of natural resources. Access to the area for foreign journalists remains restricted and even those who get permission to visit can run into trouble with the authorities.

Nduga, a mountainous area that is one of the world's last pristine tropical forests, has been at the centre of much of the instability. The local communities are indigenous Melanesian people, who are mostly Christian and speak their own languages rather than Bahasa Indonesia. Subsistence farmers, they live on their ancestral lands, growing crops and raising pigs, and supplementing their diet with leaves gathered from the forest and the wild boar that forage among the trees. An investigation by the local administration into the military's operations in Nduga in December alleged the armed forces had destroyed homes and churches in their bid to flush out the rebels. Sisriadi accused the independence movement of using local villagers as cover, but none of the displaced people Al Jazeera met said they had been threatened by the rebels. Theo Hesegem, a human rights activist who helped research the local administration's report, told Al Jazeera that eyewitnesses who preferred not to be named had also told him that bombs had been dropped from helicopters on both December 4 and December 5. The military denies the allegations.

 Two men put up a sign for the emergency school for children who have been forced from their homes in Nduga [Febriana Firdaus/Al Jazeera]

Desperate to escape the fighting, many people trekked through the forest for weeks to find safety surviving on leaves and ferns. Innah Gwejangge, the head of Nduga Health Department whose team has been providing medical services to the displaced villagers, said many of the children were suffering from illnesses, including respiratory infections and diarrhoea brought on by their ordeal. "They told me there was no food," Gwejangge said. "They ate anything they could find, such as roots from trees. Some of them were naked. I saw babies wearing nothing, their parents put them inside noken [traditional woven bag] and covered them with leaves," she added. Hundreds of displaced people have found refuge in the 23 shelters set up by a local Protestant Church in the town of Wamena, the largest settlement in the central highlands.
In one shelter, dozens of children and adults are living in a single house with only one bathroom and kitchen. Most shelters provide a temporary home for between two and 10 families.
"They are still scared," Dolu Bruangge, a volunteer, said of the displaced. "They don't trust outsiders." Many are desperate to return home so they can get back to their land and what is left of their crops. Church volunteers have given them clothing and other basic necessities.
They have also built a school, staffed with teachers from the local authority. Inside, the students sit on wooden benches beneath a tin roof, surrounded by walls fashioned out of tarpaulin, which billows and rips when the wind picks up.

Jennes Sampouw, the head of Nduga's educational department, said 695 students from 32 districts had now joined the emergency schools. His goal was to make sure the students could take part in the national exams that took place in April. But the displaced children still find it difficult to get medical services because hospitals can only treat people who are registered locally. "These children have a right to be protected by the country as mentioned in our children protection law," Retno Listyarti of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), an independent agency, told Al Jazeera, stressing that trauma counselling was also crucial.
Fighting between the military and the separatists continues. On May 13, local media reported an officer had been killed after the rebels attacked an airfield in Nduga. The continuing unrest means the children are unlikely to return home any time soon. But even when they do go back to their villages, the spectre of violence will continue to haunt them. "I am afraid the soldiers will come back again," said the nine-year-old girl.  SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister Ralph Reganvanu says the Pacific Islands' Forum needs to be stronger in its stance regarding West Papua.

              Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister, Ralph Reganvanu Photo: Georgia govt

Vanuatu is a strong proponent of West Papuan self-determination from Indonesia and has taken the battle for decolonisation to the global stage.
Mr Reganvanu said West Papua was discussed at the Forum Foreign Ministers' meeting last year where an existing resolution about constructive engagement with Indonesia was kept. However, he said that resolution now needs to be upgraded. "There is a concern now that since that time there has been an  escalating crisis in West Papua so at the next Forum we will be seeking to see that wording made a bit stronger because the issue in West Papua is that even though an invitation was extended to the Human Rights Commissioner to visit, it has never been honoured." He said humanitarian organisations and media efforts to investigate issues in the region continued to be restricted.

Mr Reganvanu said New Zealand could play a part in putting pressure on Indonesia to allow transparent investigations into alleged human rights abuses in West Papua through the Pacific Islands Forum, when he his New Zealand counterpart and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters in Port Vila yesterday. He said the Pacific Island Forum has officially resolved that it will seek constructive engagement with Indonesia over West Papua but that wording may need to be stronger now that there has been a surge in conflict there. Mr Reganvanu said this is where New Zealand can assist. "International organisations, humanitarian organisations are not allowed in the territory so increased transparency and the perceived effort to try and bring these human rights abuses to an end to allow the world shine the light on what's happening there would be welcome. "We will be working with New Zealand in the context of the Pacific Islands Forum to make sure we step up." Ralph Reganvanu said Indonesia should honour its invitation for the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit.

Papuan activists dispute Indonesia's polling numbers, claim boycott was a success   
 Pacific Beat ABC Radio By Evan Wasuka on Pacific Beat
It may be more than a month since Indonesians went to the polls, but the country is still being shaken by violence related to the election, including in the Papua region.At least six people died in clashes in the capital Jakarta, during protests against the election outcome that saw President Joko Widodo declared the winner over Prabowo Subianto.There are also reports in the Jakarta Post that post-election violence erupted in the troubled Papua region with investigations taking place into the deaths of four protesters allegedly killed by Indonesian soldiers.It comes as President Widodo's re-elected government has promised greater infrastructure development in Papua province.But West Papuan activists pushing for independence from Indonesia have declared their election boycott was a success, saying that a majority of West Papuans did not vote. Benny Wenda, the exiled leader of the United Liberation Movement, called for the peaceful boycott to show that West Papuans were not interested in electing Indonesia's president. After the preliminary count came in he claimed that 60 per cent of West Papuans had not taken part in the election.However, the official results from the electoral commission show that 88 per cent of West Papuans did vote.

ULMWP spokesman Ronny Kareni says that while West Papuan activists are glad that Joko Widodo remains in power, they don't think anything will change citing that Joko Widodo has not addressed any of the human rights cases in Papua that he said he would in his first term."The trust that has always been there, that gap is widening," he said. "The general feeling is that nothing will change, even though Jokowi is back serving for the second time".

UN chief waffles over West Papuan human rights violations
By PMC Editor -  Asia/Pacific report May 23, 2019

Vanuatu-based journalist Ben Bohane raises West Papuan questions with UN Secretary-General António Guterres during his visit to Vanuatu. Video: Ben Bohane/Ginny Stein

By Dan McGarry in Port Vila
During his visit to Port Vila last weekend, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was confronted with questions about West Papua – but he waffled in his responses. The matter was on the agenda during a bilateral meeting held between Guterres and key government officials, including Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and Foreign Affairs Minister Ralph Regenvanu. In a joint press conference, Salwai was unequivocal about Vanuatu’s continued commitment to support and help drive the decolonisation process globally, and especially in West Papua.

 Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu (background) and UN Secretary-General António Guterres during a visit to Port Vila’s seafront … West Papua issue raised in vain. Image: Dan McGarry/Vanuatu Daily Post

The UN head did little more than acknowledge the PM’s words in his own prepared remarks. Guterres also responded to questions on the topic from the media. The following exchange occurred during a pooled interview with Agence France Presse’s Ben Bohane. He had little more to offer there. The most serious deforestation, the most serious ecological trouble, as well as the most serious human rights abuses in the whole Pacific are happening in West Papua, Bohane said. Shouldn’t the UN be doing more to try and stop the human right abuses, and the ecological disaster that is unfolding there?

UN ‘doing its job’ 
Guterres did little to raise expectations of a resolution to this crisis any time soon. “There is a framework in the institutions, namely the human rights council… there are special procedures, there was a panel, that recently made a report on those issues, a report that was then presented internationally. Indonesia also responded,” he said. “So the UN is doing its job, with a major concern that there and everywhere, human rights are respected.” The problem is, he was told, that Indonesia is blocking Pacific island delegations, and they also appear to be blocking the UN Human Rights Commission from visiting West Papua. At the moment, all international media is banned. Again, shouldn’t the UN be doing more to open up West Papua? The Secretary-General appeared to grant that there were indeed concerns about access to the area. “The Human Rights High Commissioner has reaffirmed availability to visit the territory, and that remains our concern, and our objective.” So, if Indonesia says no, he was asked, is there nothing anyone can do, even the UN? “As I said, we had the institutions working, we have a panel of experts, but there are also from our side strong commitments there and everywhere.” Little evidence of those commitments was on display in Port Vila. Dan McGarry is the media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post group. This article is republished with permission.
Letters in Vanuatu Daily Post 
Re: Waffling on West Papua
May 25, 2019
Dear Editor,
So, when are the other regional governments — Australia and New Zealand — going to get in behind Vanuatu’s advocacy of justice for West Papua and show themselves to be openly, genuinely and actively responsible for international relations across the entire South West Pacific region? Does not Australia exist within its own lawful portion of Melanesian territory through its Torres Strait Islands? Does it not have the Torres Strait Islander flag among its collection of official national flags? So, when is Canberra going to face up to its own responsibility for regional justice with a humble recognition of its neglect hitherto of its own place in the Melanesian region? If it faced up to itself it may assist the UN to moderate its waffling prevarication.
Bruce Wearne

Waffling on West Papua
Dear Editor,
Bruce Wearne asks a good question. When is Australian and New Zealand “going to get in behind Vanuatu’s advocacy of justice for West Papua”. As secretary of the Australia West Papua Association in Sydney, I write regularly to our foreign affairs department (DFAT) raising concerns about the human rights situation in West Papua. In all replies there will always be the sentence, “we recognise Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua”. It does not matter which party is in power but there are individual politicians in all parties, particularly in “The Greens” which are concerned about the situation. There have been a number of hiccups in our relationship with Indonesia and DFAT’s policy seems to be basically not to upset Indonesia. Everybody wants to get along with their neighbours but it should not be at the expense of the West Papuan People. One way Australia can support West Papua without incurring Indonesian criticism is to act collectively and support the call by the Pacific leaders in asking Jakarta to allow a PIF fact finding mission to West Papua. In recent years there has been a groundswell of support throughout the Pacific region in support of the West Papuan people. Hopefully, the PIF leaders at the upcoming PIF summit in Tuvalu will continue to press Jakarta to allow a fact finding mission to the territory. They have the support of their people in doing so.  Joe Collins AWPA (Sydney)

VFWPA Chairman disappointed by UN SG’s remarks
Vanuatu Daily Post By Len Garae May 30, 2019

Pastor Nafuki says UN Secretary General’s words shallow By Len Garae

I expected the United Nations’ Secretary General (SG), António Guterres, to confirm to the people of Vanuatu that he understands Vanuatu’s vision for the people of West Papua to be granted their democratic freedom from colonial rule, and that he would take the request to the UN to consider Vanuatu’s stand. “However he did not say that except to touch on climate change affecting the world and the human rights issues surrounding the Melanesians of West Papua”.
The Chairman of both Vanuatu Christian Council and Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, Pastor Alan Nafuki, made the statement outside his Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu Office at Independence Park yesterday.

Last week, the Vanuatu Government invited the outspoken Chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council (and Chairman of the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association), Pastor Nafuki, to pray over the United Nations’ Flag and the visit of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, on his five-hour visit to Port Vila on May 18. Asked his opinion of the SG’s response to media questions on West Papua, he replied, “In my opinion, the UN Secretary General’s remarks on West Papua were shallow and it seemed he merely spoke to please the Vanuatu Government.
“Meanwhile as the Chairman of VFWPA, I expected Mr. Guterres to dwell on the need for the freedom of the people of West Papua but he concentrated on the human right issues of West Papua”. Pastor Nafuki regrets not having any chance of speaking to him in person due to shortage of time and his busy schedule during his lightening visit to Port Vila which was also the first in the Pacific Region.

He said, “I expected Mr. Guterres to acknowledge Vanuatu’s firm stand for West Papua to be freed from colonial rule and that it would be wise for the UN to listen to Vanuatu in its unshakable stand to help West Papua to gain self-determination from Indonesian rule.
“Let me add that his coming here has not changed my heart or that of my committee and everyone in Vanuatu from the Chiefs to the Government, Opposition, people and children in our steadfast vision for the people of West Papua to be granted their rightful self-determination from Indonesian rule”. He said the people’s expectation and ‘cry’ for the UN to support the people of West Papua and all other remaining colonized peoples in the world, has not happened. “Let me proclaim to the world that our stand in favour of self-determination for the people of West Papua and all the remaining colonies in the world, will continue regardless of what ever response comes from abroad. “The UN SG won’t change our cry and focus for the eventual freedom of the colonised people of West Papua as well as Kanaky, Tahiti and Moluccas”.
As a Christian Church Pastor, he said he believes in God’s timing in which to grant self-determination to the people of West Papua. “We must fear God that through Him and Him alone, we can receive our freedom”, he said. Asked what it was that he focused on in his prayer in his latest assignment he replied, “I prayed for those peoples who are struggling for self-determination and God’s caring for those affected by Climate Change”.


UK Parliamentary meeting hears update on the struggle for self-determination in West Papuan    JUNE 6, 2019

A meeting held in the UK’s Parliament last Tuesday received extensive updates on the human rights situation in West Papua and the Papuan people’s struggle for self-determination. Diplomats, advocates, MPs and lawyers addressed a well-attended meeting on June 4, 2019. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on West Papua heard of continued militarisation in the Nduga Regency, a summary of the recent World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation visit to West Papua, an update on Vanuatu’s international lobbying work, and about the implications of the recent Chagos Islands case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for West Papua.

Chaired by Alex Sobel MP, the meeting was introduced by Benny Wenda, Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, who relayed on-the-ground information he had received that morning from churches inside West Papua regarding the ongoing militarisation and crisis in the Nduga Regency.
Speaking on behalf of the Republic of Vanuatu, Dreli Sololom, First Secretary at Vanuatu’s embassy in Brussels, stated that Vanuatu ‘has an unwavering dedication to make this struggle our struggle’, and condemned the ‘horrendous and gross human rights violations in West Papua’. Jennifer Robinson, co-founder of the International Lawyers for West Papua, outlined her recent work on the ICJ case regarding the UK and US occupation of the Chagos Islands. Ms Robinson outlined the positive implications the Chagos case had for upholding West Papua’s right to self-determination.

Peter Prove, International Director of the World Council of Churches (WCC), a congregation covering around 600 million Christians world-wide, explained the finding of the recent WCC delegation to West Papua. Papuans, he explained, ‘continue to be marginalized and excluded from […] development, and from education and employment opportunities’, and suffer from ‘high levels of violence and of related human rights violations’. Indonesia’s 2001 Special Autonomy Law, Mr Prove explained, has ‘failed’ to fulfill Papuans’ ‘aspirations with regard to the realization of their human right to self-determination’.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the opposition Labour Party, the Tongan High Commission in London, and many others, and follows shortly after the first-ever House of Commons debate held in the UK in May this year.
This article was first published on the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s website here.

An extract from an opinion piece about West Papua been raised in the UK Parliament
 “Consequently, with a lack of sustained international pressure, it is unlikely that the UK will take the initiative to strongly pressure Indonesia to address human rights concerns in West Papua. It is also worth noting that the Indonesian Government recently gave the green light for UK-based multinational oil and gas company BP, to begin exporting LNG to Singapore from its Tangguh LNG project in West Papua.

Nevertheless, the recent debate does reflect growing awareness of the human rights issues in Papua and the push for self-determination. As suggested in a recent Strategic Weekly Analysis, Indonesia’s approach to Papua may need to change in the future if that momentum for self-determination continues to grow. The current strategy of suppressing separatist elements, while at the same time promising economic benefits, is unsustainable in the long-term.
To minimise the threat of independence in Papua, the options available to the Indonesian Government range from heavier crackdowns on separatist elements, to improving standards of living and freedoms for all Papuans. If the former approach is taken, greater international pressure on the Indonesian government could result, which could prompt the UK Government to take a stronger stance on human rights concerns in West Papua.”

Shooting incident in Wagete, Deiyai, Tigi Police Station burned down
 Jubi 26 May 2019 By pr9c6tr3_juben
 Jayapura, Jubi – A resident of Wagete of Deiyai Regency, Papua Province was reportedly shot dead by the police on Tuesday evening, while another resident was seriously injured (21/5/19). This incident triggered the outraged people to burn down the local police station (Tigi sector) in Deiyai. Pastor Santon Tekege confirmed this incident by phone to Jubi on Tuesday evening (21/5/19). He said the incident occurred when four drunken young men were stopping a car in a road near YPPK high school. “They stopped a passing car and asked for Rp 10,000 to the driver for buying cigarettes. However, the driver told them that he had no money. While argued, the driver got out of the car and chased them with a machete,” said Pastor Tekege. The four men then went away, so the driver returned to his car. However, when he was about to leave, these four men came with a group of people and smashed the windshield. The driver escaped from the outraged people and went to the Tigi police station to report the incident.

According to Tekege, the police officers came to the scene and opened fire. As a result, a resident Elianus Dogopiai got shot in his thigh and immediately rushed to Deiyai Hospital. This shooting triggered the outrage among residents in Wagete. They then went to the Tigi Police station and burned it down on Tuesday afternoon. Police officers address people’s outrage by opening fire towards the mass several times. In this incident, a bullet hit the head of a resident Julius Mote that causes his dead on the scene. “Police and Mobile Brigade officers from Enarotali and Deiyai were immediately sent to Wagete. Besides using the tear gas to disperse the crowd, they also opened fire over the crowds. Many residents were reportedly injured by gunfire, but could not confirm their identity. At 7:00 p.m., the electricity was outages in Wagete, and it increases the tense atmosphere,” said Pastor Tekege. Further, Tekege stated that he thought the way the police handled the problem between the drunken men and the car’s driver is overwhelmed because the police choose using a repressive approach rather than a persuasive one. “The police must be responsible for the shooting,” he said. Meanwhile, the Chairperson of Meepago Regional Customary Council, Okto Pekey, when contacted by phone, said he already informed about the incident. “I am now in Nabire, but I got the information about the shooting incident in Deiyai,” he told Jubi through a short message on Tuesday evening (21/5/19). There was no confirmation yet from the Papua Police about the shooting incident and the Tigi Police Station. Jubi reporter tried to contact the Papua Police Spokesperson the Commissionaire AM Kamal but still not received a confirmation until this report written. (*)
 Reporter: Benny MawelEditor: Pipit Maizier

CSOs decline logging company in Wondama
Jubi 14 June 2019 By pr9c6tr3_juben

Administrative map of Teluk Wondama Regency. – Jubi/

Jayapura, Jubi – Some Papua’s CSOs namely LP3BH Manokwari, YALI Papua, Yayasan Pusaka and Pemuda Suku Mairasi urge the Minister of Environment and Foresty to review the operation permit of a logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera (KTS) in Mairasi area. The Mairasi tribal communities from Undurara, Wosimo and Inyora villages sent a statement letter stated on 12 May 2019 to oppose PT KTS to operate in Mairasi. “People feel uneasy and disturbed due to the presence of the company and the military. It creates unsecured, disharmony and has no guarantee of providing economic benefit to the community,” Agust Veth from Pemuda Suku Mairasi told Jubi by phone on Sunday, 9 June 2019 in Jayapura. According to Veth, people have not forgotten the incident of Bloody Wasior (2001) that allegedly triggered by logging activity from the timber company Darma Mukti Persana. Further, he said the human rights violation case in Wasior has not settled since then. “Now, the military along with some public leaders represent the LMA (Customary Council) who facilitate the meeting on ‘Social Communication’ allegedly want to intimidate and force the local community to approve the logging company to operate in Mairasi. However, the local community continue to decline the company and refuse to attend the meeting.”

Mairasi people have objected the timber activity of KTS since 2012, while in 2013, a military culprit based in KTS logging area in Sorong allegedly tortured three residents from Sararti and Ambuni villages. The incident then reported to the local government, the People’s Assembly of Papua Barat and the Minister of Forestry. No action towards both perpetrator and the company has yet taken. “Some reports revealed that PT KTS had some internal and financial issues. The company cannot pay the IUPHHK-HA (licence for utilization of timber in natural forest) and has a deficit (source:, 2010; PT. Inti Multima Sertifikasi, 2015),” added Vest. The logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera obtained the IUPHHK-HA from the Minister of Forestry (now the Minister of Environment and Forestry) Nomor SK.648/Menhut-II/2009 on 15 October 2009 to permit it to operate in a concession area of 115.800 hectares located in Teluk Wondama Regency. PT KSP is a subsidiary company of Artha Graha Group operating in Teluk Wondama Regency.

Concerning the permit, the civil society organisations ask the Minister of Environment and Forestry to evaluate the permit of PT KSP and give penalties for their negligence.
“We also ask the Military Commander of XVIII Kasuari to urge the Military District Command Sector Wasior and other local military authorities to stop using the military approach and intimidation towards the local community and backing up the interest of PT KTS.” “They should prioritise respect, protection and fulfilment on human rights and environment, especially the basic rights of Mairasi Tribe. Most importantly, they must prevent the reoccurrence of the same conflict. Therefore, the law enforcement and legal protection of Mairasi Tribe are in need.” However, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Military Command of Kasuari and PT KTS have not confirmed this information. On the other hand, Konstan Natama, the Acting Sub-district Chief of Naikere, Teluk Wondama Regency told Antara on 18 January 2018 that he was concerned about the massive logging activity by PT KTS clearing out the ironwood trees in Naikere. Meanwhile, Franky Sanperante from Yayasan Pusaka said another subsidiary company of Artha Graha Network is PT Papua Satya Kencana with IUPHHK-HA license No SK.647/Menhut-II/2009. It has a concession area of 195.420 hectares located in Teluk Bintuni Regency. “Combined, the total concession of the two companies is about 79% of the total area of Teluk Wondama Regency (3,960 Km2) or fivefold of the area of Jakarta,” said Frangky.

In the report published by Research and Development Centre of Department of Health of the Republic Indonesia “Merindukan Hidup Sehat Orama Etnik Mairasi Kabupaten Teluk Bintuni, 2014”, it mentioned that trees with a diameter of one meter such as ironwood and mahogany found in that area. In Naikere, PT KTS has cleared out the trees since 1990 and stopped the operation at the time of Wasior incident (2001). Timber trucks carried one or two logs of wood with a diameter of one or two meters three or four times a day at that time. (*) Reporter: Timoteus Marten Editor: Pipit Maizier.

West Papua receives award from Conservation International
11th June 2019
Jakarta (ANTARA) - West Papua Province received the Global Conservation Hero Award from the Conservation International (CI) at the organization's annual gala at Milk Studios in Los Angeles, California on Saturday (June 8). The award was received by West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan, whose communities recently passed historic legislation to name itself the country's first Conservation Province. This first-of-its-kind legal framework puts sustainable development and conservation - especially for tropical forests and the unique Bird's Head Seascape - at the forefront of the province’s economic activity and development.
"The award is an international recognition for the efforts of the provincial administration in protecting the forests and the sea, and ensuring the protection of the rights of indigenous people of West Papua, with a sustainable and environmentally friendly development approach," Governor Dominggus said in a statement on Tuesday.

On March 20, the West Papua parliament approved legislation that will make West Papua the country’s first-ever conservation province. The West Papua Conservation Province will protect the most intact marine and ecosystems remaining in Indonesia, promote the development of sustainable livelihoods, and recognize the rights of indigenous people. The legislation comes three years after West Papua first declared it would set out to become a conservation province, and is a significant shift in moving towards more sustainable development.
Launched by the West Papua administration, the new policy brings together communities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academics to define a path for sustainable development. The policy sets a governmental framework that favors economic development, community welfare, and the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services to people, including the sustainable management of natural resources.
A key part of the new policy includes the empowerment of Papuans through the protection of natural resource rights and provision of equitable and sustainable development. Home to 870,000 people, 80 percent of Papuans live in rural areas and rely on nature for their livelihoods.

The policy stated that West Papua stipulates a minimum of 50 percent of its marine area as a watershed conservation area, with 20 percent of it included in the no-take zone, tightening various permits for large-scale plantations, explicitly mentioning the need to develop a green economy, along with increasing access to utilization and profit sharing from natural resources for indigenous peoples.

Conservation International's CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan noted that with strong commitment from the West Papua Government and its people, it is expected that at least 70 percent of the province's land will be protected for the future. Located in the Bird’s Head Seascape, West Papua is one of the most biodiverse regions on the earth, home to more than 1,800 species of fish, three quarters of the world’s hard corals, and new species are found regularly. With 90 percent forest cover, it holds one of the world’s most important intact rainforests, much of which remains unexplored. The 120,777 square km province also holds the world’s largest mangrove forest and significant peatlands, habitats which hold four times the amount of carbon than the average terrestrial forest and are essential to combating climate change.

Therefore, since 15 years ago the CI Indonesia and various natural conservation organizations have been assisting the provincial administration and the central government to protect the waters in this province. Until the beginning of 2019, West Papua has 4.6 million hectares of Marine Protected Areas (MPA), or more than 25 percent of the national MPA's target by 2020. Almost 90 percent of West Papua remains a forest area and the local administrations have committed to maintain at least 70 percent of their forest areas, consisting of important ecosystems such as wetlands, mangroves, and nutrient-rich, biodiversity, and lowland forests. Reporter: Ganet Dirgantara/Yashinta Difa Editor: Bambang Purwanto

Activists protest the conservation award to Governor Mandacan
Jubi  15 June 2019 By pr9c6tr3_juben
Manokwari, Jubi – The award of Global Conservation Hero to the West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan by Conservation International in Los Angeles to appreciate the efforts of Provincial Government of West Papua in protecting and implementing sustainable development has drawn a protest from local conservationist and environmental activists. The activists argue that the government has not been eligible to receive the award because of no integrated database record the forest, ocean and indigenous resources to use as a barometer of the success of the conservation or sustainable development program in West Papua Province.
Although the ICBE Forum 2018 resulted in an agreement named “Manokwari Declaration” that has 14 commitments, in reality, it does not reach people on the ground.

Yohanis Akwan, the Coordinator of Pantau Gambut Papua in Manokwari, states the Global Conservation Award to Governor Dominggus Mandacan was so premature and allegedly full of interests. Since the declaration of West Papua Province as the conservation-based province by the former Governor Abraham Oktavianus Atururi in 2015, no real effort yet been realised by the provincial government to protect the natural resources of Papua Barat. Further, Akwan suggests that the award should present to people living in remote or coastal areas who are faithful protecting the forest and the sea with their local wisdom and traditional values. Also, he said West Papua Province even does not have a peatland map that can be used to review relevant permits, while the peatland is an indicator of the conservation-based province. He also asses that there are more unfinished plan to be done by Papua Barat concerning to conservation-based province. That is a reality. “Unfortunately, the United States, Conservation International is too quick to present this award to the governor, while the forest and natural resources in this province continue to be in hand of giant investors. This award should not present to the government official, but villagers who traditionally protect their natural resources from time to time,” Akwan told Jubi in Manokwari. Moreover, he points out a problem recently faced by Manowakri residents, namely a seasonal food disaster during rain as a result of a forest clearing in Wosi-Rendani area for human settlement and mismanagement of spatial plan for housings. “Last Monday, dozens of houses in Petrus Kafiar Village of Manokwari Timur District were flooded. People forced to evacuate, while the government acts to pay attention from the international community,” said Akwan.

The head of the Provincial Public Relations and Protocol of West Papua Yohanes Nauw on behalf of the Governor Dominggus Mandacan says in the press conference that the award presented in a gala dinner organised by Conservation International in Los Angeles, the United States on Saturday (8/6/2019). The head of provincial parliament has reportedly joined the governor because the parliament contributed to authorise the special regulation on Sustainable Development that represents the principles of environmentally friendly development.
“Through the special regulation, West Papua has been named as ‘conservation-based province’ in which 70% of its forest area and ecosystem will be protected and managed sustainably. This regulation also called the Manokwari Declaration,” explained Nauw.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Provincial Research and Development Agency of West Papua Government as a specialised agency who launched the agenda, Prof. Charlie D Heatubun, said that Governor Dominggus Mandacan has involved promoting the adoption of the regulation on Sustainable Development. “This award is also to appreciate the leadership and commitment of the governor in promoting the enactment of the special regulation and reviewing other policies such as the Provincial Spatial Plan, the Provincial Medium-Term Development Plan, protected areas expansion and the preparation of the Provincial Master Plan and the Roadmap of Green and Blue Economic Development,” he said. Furthermore, Heatubun said the visit of Papua Barat officials to Los Angeles, the United States, was to respond to the official invitation of the President of Conservation International. The event also attended by some CEOs of large companies who interested in investing in Papua Barat such as Mars, Unilever, and the Governor of California and Los Angeles Mayor. (*) Reporter: Hans Kapisa Editor: Pipit Maizier


Freeport to Start Talks With 15 Banks to Finance Unprofitable, but Politically 
 Important New Smelter 
Jakarta Globe BY : Dion  Bisara MAY 28, 2019 
Jakarta. Freeport Indonesia, the country's largest gold and copper mining company, will start discussions after Idul Fitri next month with 15 local and foreign banks interested in financing its $2.8 billion unprofitable smelter project, senior executives said. Freeport has an obligation to build the smelter as part of its deal with the government to extend its permit for the Grasberg mine in Papua until 2041.  "To be honest, I would rather build a 1,000-megawatt power plant in Papua than build the smelter," Freeport Indonesia president director Tony Wenas said late on Monday. "Whichever way we make it, it would be best if we can get zero [percent] as the smelter's IRR," Tony said, referring to the internal rate of return, an estimation of the profitability of an investment.

Orias Moedak, Freeport Indonesia's vice president director, said the company would talk with banks from Japan, France, Britain, the United States and several local state-owned banks to discuss the financing scheme.  "Because the project itself is unprofitable, we would likely have to opt for corporate financing instead of project financing," Orias said.  That means loan repayments would come from Freeport's operations, which would reduce the dividends paid out to shareholders, instead of being contained within the project. Still, the smelter project is far from disastrous for Freeport Indonesia, Orias said. "It only means that our future income would be reduced by the $2.8 billion [we will put into the smelter]," he said. 

The company is now burning through cash as it needs billions of dollars in investment to shift its operations from open-pit to fully underground. Freeport Indonesia expects its interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to dip to $1.3 billion this year due to the shift, before returning to its usual level of around $4 billion by 2022.  The company estimates that the government, which now owns 51 percent of Freeport Indonesia, still stands to pocket about $40 billion over the next 21 years from dividends taxes and royalties.  Not Economics, It's Political  Indonesia passed a law in 2009 that requires all mining resources to be processed in the country before export. This later became a highly contested point in the Freeport contract extension. 

Tony said the smelter only adds 5 percent value to Freeport Indonesia's copper concentrate before export, and that many smelters abroad can do it at a much lower cost. Illustrating his point, Tony said Freeport Indonesia's existing copper smelter arm, known as Smelting, which processes about 1 million tons of concentrate per year in Gresik, East Java, has only paid a dividend once since starting operations in 1997.  But since the company had agreed to the government's terms on building a smelter, Orias and Tony both acknowledged that the project was no longer about the economics. "This smelter is not a profitable project, but it has become our commitment and obligation under the law. Until now, we have spent $122 million on smelters, so there is no reason to step back," Tony said, adding that it also politically important for Indonesia to see the realization of the smelter. 

Freeport Indonesia commissioned Japan's Chiyoda Corporation to construct the smelter. The company has so used some of the money to acquire and prepare 100 hectares of land in the JIIPE industrial complex in Gresik. The new smelter will process 2 million tons of concentrate per year, Tony said. It will produce copper cathode and several byproducts, including sulfuric acid for fertilizers.  The company has set a target for the new smelter to be operational by 2023 – just in time for its underground mining activities to hit full throttle. 
The smelter will require 2,000 workers during the construction phase, but only 500 once it is operational.

Mass rally protest: Papuans should obtain 20 seats in the regional parliament
27 May 2019 By pr9c6tr3_juben

Protesters held banners while entering the lawn of Jayapura Regent Office in a peace rally–Jubi / Engel Wally

Sentani, Jubi – The Forum of Jayapura Indigenous People conducted a peace rally to demand twenty seats for indigenous people and five seats for non-Papuan in the Jayapura Regional Parliament. Daniel Toto, who is the Coordinator of the Jayapura Regency Customary Council (DAS), conveyed people’s aspiration during a peace rally conducted in the lawn of the Jayapura Regent Office on Tuesday (21/05/19). He said that the election that took place on 17 April was beyond the expectation of democracy because it had much fraud and did not reflect the political education for the community. “The rights of democracy for the native people are tramped. We give our verandah for you to stay, but you want to enter our living room, and then ask more for our bedroom. It is not right,” said Daniel Toto, who was also a candidate of the election held in Jayapura Regency. Moreover, he said it the Papua Special Autonomy Law clearly stated that the authority had been given to the indigenous people as the owners of the customary rights.
Meanwhile, a member of the Mamta Customary Council, Yakop Wadi, said he was concerned about the last election. “Some electoral districts allegedly had a connection with money politics. However, the parliament’s seats belong to the native people in this area. Therefore, we ask the regional government as a political tutor to take this matter seriously,” he said. (*)
 Reporter: Engel Wally Editor: Pipit Maizier

Indonesia’s Kopassus Commandos to Train Again with US Military

Jubi 12 June 2019 By  pr9c6tr3_juben
Papua, Jubi – The elite Indonesian army unit Kopassus will train again with the American military, the Southeast Asian nation’s defense chief said Thursday, in the strongest sign that Washington has agreed to improve ties with the special forces group accused of past human rights abuses. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu made the announcement after meeting in Jakarta on Thursday with acting U.S. counterpart Patrick Shanahan, during which the two agreed to boost bilateral military cooperation, including on counterterrorism and maritime security. “Enhancing cooperation will be in the form of dialogue forums, visits by high-ranking military officers, more TNI [Indonesian military] cadets attending education in the U.S., and training for rangers and special forces,” Ryamizard told reporters.

In a joint statement, the two sides affirmed support for normalized relations with Kopassus, which is short for “Special Forces Command” in Indonesian. A joint exercise was expected to take place in 2020, it said. “Both ministries affirm support for the expansion in our army to army exercise next year, and by normalizing the Army special forces relationship beginning in 2020 with a Joined Combined Exercise Training with KOPASSUS,” the statement said. A Pentagon spokesman did not immediately respond to a BenarNews email seeking details on the joint training exercises. But Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman, told Reuters that the training program was still in its initial stages and would likely be for up to six weeks. Shanahan’s predecessor, James Mattis, last year pushed for expanding training for Indonesian military units involved in counter-terrorism, including Kopassus, which gained notoriety after its members were accused of rights abuses during the 1990s in East Timor, when it was occupied by Indonesia. Kopassus personnel have also been accused of committing atrocities in hotspots in Indonesia, including Aceh province on Sumatra island and Papua, the country’s easternmost region.

In 2010, Washington lifted a more than a decade-long ban on military assistance to Kopassus, arguing that the unit had undergone sufficient reform following the fall of authoritarian ruler Suharto in 1998. Last year, Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights, known as Komnas HAM, said Kopassus members were involved in rape, killings, enforced disappearances and torture between 1989 and 1998, describing those accusations as crimes against humanity. “The crimes were borne out of the policy to impose a military emergency in Aceh at that time,” Komnas HAM team member Mohammad Choirul Anam told a news conference in Jakarta last September. “We have enough preliminary evidence that crimes against humanity, such as rape and other forms of sexual violence, murder, deprivation of freedom, forced imprisonment and forced disappearances,” he said.
The U.S. Congress bans training of foreign military units believed to have involved in human rights abuses under a law sponsored by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). Congress began implementing the so-called Leahy Laws in 1998, cutting ties with Kopassus the following year over allegations that its forces had killed civilians and committed rights abuses in East Timor as well Aceh and West Papua provinces. The laws attach human rights conditions to congressional appropriations of U.S. military aid to foreign countries.

In Jakarta on Thursday, Shanahan told reporters that he and Ryamizard had discussed growing “our capacity and our level of cooperation.” “The first is expanding, increasing our complex training exercises,” the acting American defense secretary said. “There are many things that we share in common in terms of threats – or I will consider opportunities – our ability to work in counter-terrorism, our ability to work on maritime domain awareness.”
Last year, as Mattis was preparing for his Jakarta visit, Sen. Leahy described Kopassus as a “criminal enterprise” under Suharto, and said it was unclear whether the elite unit had completely transformed. “The question Secretary Mattis needs to answer is whether the Indonesian government has punished the Kopassus officers who ordered and covered up those horrific crimes, and whether members of Kopassus today are accountable to the rule of law,” the senator told reporters at the time.

Tackling regional threats
On Thursday, the two countries also agreed to tackle threats to security in the Asia-Pacific region, including those posed by returning nationals who fought alongside Islamic State (IS) fighters in Syria and Iraq, the Indonesian defense chief said. IS-linked militants from Indonesia and the Philippines had been implicated in recent terrorist attacks in both countries, Ryamizard said. “We must also pay attention to Rohingya refugees. They must be … humanized, otherwise, terrorists will be waiting in the wings to persuade them to join their ranks,” Ryamizard said. Shanahan was in Indonesia on the first leg of an Asian tour, which will take him to Singapore, where he is scheduled to speak at the Shangri-La Dialogue regional security and defense forum. Ryamizard said he would attend the forum and talk about maintaining stability and resilience in the face of threats in Southeast Asia.

The region will be stronger and more stable if the countries with combined populations of 560 million people are united, with the support of the United States and partners including Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and Russia, Ryamizard said. Concerns that ex-IS militants returning from Syria would become leaders of independent terrorist cells not affiliated with pro-IS militant groups in Indonesia have not yet become a reality but remains something to worry about, according to a recent report by a Jakarta-based think-tank.
“At present, the biggest threat comes from IS supporters who have never left, not from those who returned,” Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), said in a report published last month. Ryamizard also said the U.S. had an interest in making the South China Sea accessible to all. “Indonesia understands that it must maintain peace and cooperation between countries such as joint patrols so that all countries can go through (the South China Sea),” Ryamizard said.

In December, the Indonesian military inaugurated a military unit in the Natuna islands near the South China Sea. Indonesian navy patrols have clashed with Chinese fishing boats in waters off Natuna in recent years, as the nation has increased a crackdown on illegal fishing in the maritime region and accused the Chinese of fishing in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. China responded by calling the waters traditional fishing grounds. Tensions between China and its neighbors have risen as the superpower has sought to assert its control of the South China Sea in the face of competing territorial claims from countries in the region. China claims most of the sea as its own, while Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims to territories. (Benarnews.orgSource:

ULMWP cautions Indonesian propaganda on social media
Pina News, 12/06/2019, Fiji

Since the issue of West Papua has become the region’s agenda from 2015, Indonesia’s propaganda has stepped up a notch and it is dominating Pacific spaces on social media.   Speaking during a public lecture at the University of the South Pacific, the Pacific representative for the United Liberation for West Papua (ULMWP) Ronny Kareni said West Papua still remains closed off to international media, and social media especially Facebook has been a platform for West Papua to expose Indonesia’s inhumane acts.

Kareni acknowledged social media as a useful platform that has supported the voices of West Papua, but stressed that Indonesia has flooded Pacific spaces on social media with sponsored propaganda pages, accounts and groups, “sometimes using indigenous West Papuan names, personalities or groups to divide West Papuans and confuse solidarity support for West Papua regionally and internationally.” “Facebook has enabled West Papuans to share accounts of the abuse and torture by Indonesian security forces and this exposure has brought a lot of pressure on Indonesia. But over the past two years, we have seen a lot of sponsored platforms on Facebook using forms of West Papua’s struggle to promote what Indonesia sees as development for West Papuans.” He said some of the Indonesian propaganda platforms on social media have defamed Pacific leaders who have supported West Papua, even publishing misleading information. “Indonesia’s propaganda platforms on social media have not only targeted Pacific leaders but they have gone further to defame Pacific states like the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu,” said Kareni  (

The WCC Executive Committee Statement: Concern and Solidarity for West Papuan27 May 2019
Statement: Concern and Solidarity for West Papua
Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Amos 5: 24 (NRSV)

The executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 22-28 May 2019, recalls the many initiatives and expressions of concern about the situation in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and Papua Barat (together referred to herein as “West Papua” or “Tanah Papua”) by national, regional and international ecumenical and church-related organizations over many years. Since the joint World Council of Churches (WCC)/Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) delegation visit to Indonesia (including West Papua) in 1999, the WCC has repeatedly lifted up issues related to human rights, environmental degradation, and economic justice in West Papua, particularly from the perspective of the Indigenous Papuan people. The same concerns were raised through the Living Letters team visit to Indonesia in July 2008, and the WCC General Secretary’s visit to West Papua in June 2012, and underlined in WCC governing body statements (including by the executive committee in February 2012, and by the central committee in June 2016).

The WCC central committee called in June 2016 for a solidarity visit to West Papua by an international ecumenical delegation, to demonstrate the ecumenical movement’s accompaniment of the churches in the region, to hear the voices of the victims of violence and human rights violations, and to pursue the pilgrimage of justice and peace in this context. The executive committee accordingly welcomes the fact that in February this year 23 members of an ecumenical Pilgrim Team Visit (PTV) to Indonesia visited four separate locations in West Papua (Jayapura, Wamena, Merauke and Manokwari), in what is believed to be the first time that such a large and diverse international delegation has visited the territory since its integration into Indonesia in 1969.

The WCC executive committee expresses its sincere appreciation to the Government of Indonesia for enabling the PTV members unfettered access to West Papua, as a positive sign of increased openness by the government to such visits to the territory. Nevertheless, we are alarmed that the observations by the PTV members in West Papua indicate persistently high levels of violence and human rights violations, including recently in the Nduga Regency resulting in the displacement of many people from remote communities in this Highlands area. PTV members remarked on the very heavy military-security approach of the Indonesian authorities in the region, and its consequences in terms of conflict and associated human rights violations.

We are also gravely concerned by reports of the accelerating deforestation and that these forest areas have for Indigenous Papuan people’s traditional livelihoods and culture, and their global significance with regard to the challenges of climate change and extinction of species.
The prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence in West Papua, and the disproportionate impact of the conflict and human rights situation in the territory on women and girls, are matters warranting further specific attention by the ecumenical movement and national and provincial authorities.
Overall, reports received and observations made by the PTV members indicate that the present situation in West Papua exhibits clear characteristics of systemic marginalization – including through transmigration and demographic shifts – and discrimination against the Indigenous Papuan population, and of their exclusion from the development process currently taking place in their own territory, which is in any event unsustainable and destructive both of the environment and traditional livelihoods.

It is also apparent from the testimonies and reports received by PTV members in West Papua that the 2001 Special Autonomy Law for West Papua has not been fully or consistently implemented by the Government of Indonesia, and has failed to reverse the process of marginalization and exclusion of Indigenous Papuans in their own land, or to fulfil their aspirations with regard to the realization of their human right to self-determination. The executive committee notes that the PTV received a joint pastoral appeal from the heads of four churches in West Papua – the Synod of the Christian Evangelical Church in Tanah Papua (GKI-TP), the Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua, the Synod of KINGMI Church in Tanah Papua, and the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia – calling inter alia for a “dignified and peaceful dialogue between the government of the Republic of Indonesia and the United environmental degradation in West Papua, especially in light of the importance 
Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)” in order to resolve the political issues of the territory.

The executive committee of the World Council of Churches:
Expresses its thanks and appreciation to the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), the Christian Evangelical Church in Tanah Papua (GKI-TP), the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), the United Evangelical Mission (UEM) and Roman Catholic partners Franciscans International and Vivat International for their collaboration and participation in the Pilgrim Team Visit to Indonesia, including West Papua, in February 2019;
Urges the Government of Indonesia immediately to open access to the Nduga Regency for national and international humanitarian organisations to provide food and health services for affected Indigenous communities and IDPs in the neighbouring regencies;

Calls on the Government of Indonesia to provide full and unimpeded access to West Papua, including to the Nduga Regency, by international human rights organizations, journalists and others;

Requests the Government of Indonesia to ensure that development undertaken in West Papua, and throughout Indonesia, respects commitments to environmental sustainability and the human rights and dignity of Indigenous and local communities, and promotes gender justice and equality;

Supports the joint appeal of the four church leaders in West Papua for a comprehensive political dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and the ULMWP;

Calls on President Joko Widodo to fulfil his commitments to engage in comprehensive dialogue, and to ensure a just resolution of the Papuan people’s concerns;

Commends all church-based and civil society efforts to advocate for justice and peace in West Papua based on humanitarian and human rights principles;

Invites all WCC member churches to pray and act in support of the witness of the churches in West Papua – and that of PGI, PCC and CCA – for justice and peace in the region.

Opinion pieces/reports/press releases etc.

Catholic hospital raises medical standards in Papua

Remote ‘paradise’ island covered in rubbish washed up from overseas  
(A large number of photos in article) 

In Indonesia, a flawed certification scheme lets illegal loggers raze away
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