Wednesday, July 3, 2019

1) Armed Papuan rebels persistent challenge to Indonesia's security

1) Armed Papuan rebels persistent challenge to Indonesia's security

2) Polish man in Papua prison says his government of little help 
3) 'United' West Papua Army to end use of child soldiers, but frictions remain
4) West Papuan independence group says it is 'ready to take over country’
5) West Papua rebel groups join forces in bid for independence from Indonesia
6) Port Moresby evicts West Papuan refugees from city settlement


Armed Papuan rebels persistent challenge to Indonesia's security
3 hours ago

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Security disturbances caused by armed Papuan rebels have kept the province's Indonesian police on their toes since 10 shooting incidents involving these armed separatists that claimed seven lives occurred in the first semester of 2019.

Five of the dead victims were soldiers, while two others were a policeman and civilian, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Rudolf A. Rodja stated here on Wednesday.

The shooting incidents that took place in the working areas of the Puncak Jaya and Jayawijaya Police Precincts during the January-June period this year had also resulted in gunshot wounds sustained by six soldiers and two policemen, Rodja remarked.

Security disturbances still potentially recur for which precautionary measures are necessary, particularly for securing this year's commemoration of Indonesian Independence Day on Aug 17 and the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement on Dec 1, he emphasized.

The commemoration of International Human Rights Day on Dec 10 and the Christmas celebrations on Dec 25-26 are other days that call for the need to take precautionary security measures, Rodja stated.

ANTARA noted that Rodja's predecessor, Inspector General Martuani Sormin, had, in fact, forecast that the armed Papuan rebels, or what the police term "armed criminal groups" or "KKB," would likely remain a serious security threat in certain areas of the central mountain range of the Indonesian province of Papua.

Related news: Armed rebels remain serious threat in 2019: Papua police chief

Sormin informed journalists in January this year that the police had attempted to approach the armed groups to end the vicious circle of violence, but the effort proved to be futile.

However, he pointed to a reduction in security disturbances following the deployment of army and police personnel in the areas of the central mountain range that might potentially be targeted by the armed groups.

The governor and heads of districts are tasked with handling the administration of the areas, and without their support, the armed forces and police personnel could not have conducted their duties.

Hence, in dealing with such security threats, Sormin suggested to activate the "Regional Leadership Communication Forum," or "Forkopimda," so that necessary solutions can be sought jointly to tackle all problems arising in the regions.

On December 2, 2018, a group of armed Papuan rebels had brutally killed 31 workers from PT Istaka Karya, who were engaged in construction and building the Trans Papua project in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak in Yigi Sub-District, Nduga District, Papua Province.

The armed rebels, who launched the brutal killings, also killed a soldier named Handoko and injured two other security personnel, Sugeng and Wahyu.

Related news: Attackers of bridge workers in Papua are rebels: Defense minister
Related news: Over 80 teachers take refuge following exchanges of fire in Papua
Related news: Armed rebels have no place in Indonesia: Defense minister


Reporter: Alfian R, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati

2) Polish man in Papua prison says his government of little help 
5:41 pm today 

A Polish man imprisoned in Indonesia's Papua province for treason says his government has been of little help to him.

Jakub Skrzypski in prison in Jayawijaya regency of Indonesian-administered Papua. Photo: Supplied
Jakub Skrzypski was in May jailed for five years after an Indonesian court said he had plotting to sell arms to the West Papua Liberation Army.
A spokesman for Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the country's consul in Jakarta has stayed in contact with Skrzypski and his lawyer since his arrest last August.
He says the case has been repeatedly discussed at the diplomatic level, including between the Foreign Affairs ministers of Poland and Indonesia.
But speaking through intermediaries from his cell in remote Jayawijaya regency, Skrzypski says he's had no contact with his government, who he claims has been ineffectual.
Previous cases involving Swiss and French citizens arrested and detained in Papua resulted in swift intervention by their respective governments, and their release.
Skrzypski, who maintains his innocence, says the Polish government has not been able to affect any improvement in the squalid cell conditions he is languishing in.
An experienced tourist who has travelled extensively in Indonesia, Skrzypski has a six-year old daughter in Semarang. He had hoped to be transferred from incarceration in the remote Papua Highlands regency to a prison on Java, but Poland's consul has made no headway on this front.
Because the main prison in Jayawijaya's capital Wamena was deemed over-crowded, Skrzypski has been kept in the local police cells, where detainees were never allowed outside.
He conveyed to RNZ Pacific that his imprisonment was about him being made an example of. Skrzypski said the refusal of certain witnesses to appear in his trial did not help his case. His co-defendant Simon Magal was given a four-year jail sentence.
In Warsaw, the Polish government has been petitioned by a group of citizens to take steps to enable Skrzypski's liberation. The petition quotes alleged procedural errors made by Indonesian prosecutors and lighter sentences given to legitimate independence activists in Papua.
Skrzypski claimed he was convicted following presentation of possessions that weren't his as evidence.
His lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, filed an appeal at the Wamena High Court in May.

3) 'United' West Papua Army to end use of child soldiers, but frictions remain
6:09 pm today
Mackenzie Smith 
The main organisation advancing West Papuan independence aims abroad has committed to ending the use of child soldiers by armed rebels fighting under its flag.
This comes after revelations boys as young as 15 are fighting in an escalating conflict with Indonesian forces in Papua's Central Highlands.

The new rules, which are expected to take effect in the next six months, are part of an effort to placate concerns over underage fighters joining the ranks of the West Papua Liberation Army, and comes as the independence movement struggles to gain ground with the international community.
Last month, RNZ Pacific reported the Liberation Army had violated international conventions against the recruitment of child soldiers, a move the rebel group argued was necessary in a region embroiled in near-constant conflict.
On Monday, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) claimed it was taking political leadership of the Liberation Army and the two other main rebel groups in Papua. According to the ULMWP, the three will form a new grouping dubbed the West Papua Army and will undertake military reforms.
"We want to follow international law. We also must keep little boys in very clear position," said Jacob Rumbiak, an Australia-based ULMWP spokesperson. He said the changes would restrict active combat operations by the West Papua Army to adult fighters, although he added children would still be trained for combat.
A release on Monday from the office of the ULMWP chair, Benny Wenda, said it was the first time the three major rebel factions had come under a single arm.
"Politically and militarily we are united now. The international community can now see without a doubt that we are ready to take over our country," he said.
But undermining the new united front, the Liberation Army released a counter-statement on Monday, saying it was "not a part of ULMWP or the West Papua Army." The statement said Mr Wenda's claims were "fabrications and lies".
Experts said the ULMWP assuming political leadership over armed forces was unlikely to carry much sway with rebels already operating with little oversight, especially within the Liberation Army, which is engaged in a chaotic war with Indonesian forces in Nduga regency.
"I don't know if it can be applied anytime soon given the nature of the Liberation Army is quite fragmented since the 1960s," Hipo Wangge, a researcher at Marthinus Academy in Jakarta, said of claims the West Papua Army would end the use of child soldiers.
A spokesperson for the Liberation Army couldn't be reached for comment on the proposed regulations.
Victor Mambor, the editor of Papuan news site Tabloid Jubi, said a meeting in Papua New Guinea last year between the three armed groups and the Liberation Movement had ended with some members "unhappy" over the outcome.
Since then, the Liberation Army has found itself at the centre of a war with Indonesia after its fighters massacred at least 16 Indonesian construction workers in Nduga in December, in the worst bout of violence to strike Papua in years. Hundreds of Indonesian military and police have been deployed in a hunt for the rebel group.
Rights groups have documented a widespread displacement of civilians from Nduga, including hundreds of children who have been forced to take shelter in displacement camps in nearby cities. In April, the Irish human rights group Front Line Defenders said more than 32,000 people had been displaced from the regency since December.
Still, the formation of the West Papua Army shows how Papuan rebel groups are being leveraged to win international support for the independence movement.
The Liberation Movement spokesperson, Mr Rumbiak, said the move was prompted by a request from Vanuatu, which he added had wanted a united front including from military factions in order to make international lobbying easier. Vanuatu's government has been a staunch supporter of West Papuan independence and its Special Envoy for West Papua last month handed over an application for the Liberation Movement to gain full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
4) West Papuan independence group says it is 'ready to take over country’
Three rebel armies fighting for liberation from Indonesia join forces under movement headed by exiled leader Benny Wenda
Helen Davidson @heldavidson Wed 3 Jul 2019 04.00 AEST 
Last modified on Wed 3 Jul 2019 14.33 AEST 

A leading West Papuan independence organisation claims to have unified three rebel armies under its control, led by exiled leader Benny Wenda, who says they are now “ready to take over our country”.
However one alleged party – the long-running domestic separatist group, OPM, – has rejected the announcement as “lies and fabrication”.
It comes as Indonesian authorities increase efforts in their search for five soldiers and nine crew from a military resupply helicopter which went missing on Friday.
West Papua, which shares an island with Papua New Guinea, has been under Indonesian control since 1969 and is in the grip of a long-running independence conflict.

The armed groups unified last month under the command of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) – the umbrella organisation for three independence groups, said Wenda..
“Politically and militarily we are united now. The international community can now see without a doubt that we are ready to take over our country,” said Wenda, the chair of the ULMWP.
“Indonesia cannot stigmatise us as separatists or criminals any more, we are a legitimate unified military and political state-in-waiting.”
The groups named include themilitary wing of the OPM, TPNPB, which attacked a construction sitein December, reportedly killing 17 Indonesians.
However in a counter-statement released on Wednesday, OPM leader, Jeffrey Bomanak, said the OPM and the TPNPB “reject and deny the claims made in the political statement on the alleged military merger”.
“[I]t must be stressed firmly that OPM TPN is not part of ULMWP. Starting on 1 July 2019 and henceforth, ULMWP must stop using the name OPM TPN to gain political legitimacy at the international level,” it said.
Bomanak accused the ULMWP organiser of fraud and deception, claiming signatures of regional commanders were fake, and called for an immediate retraction and apology.
Wenda and the ULMWP have been contacted for a response.
TPNPB’s December attack sparked a military crackdownin the region, claiming dozens of lives on both sides.
Shortly after the attack Wenda told the Guardianhe could not stop the TPNPB, but called for calm.

Bobby Anderson, Papua researcher and fellow at Chiang Mai University’s School of Public Policy, cautioned that the rebel groups had previously announced unifications which had amounted to nothing.
“This declaration of a unified command might just be the ULMWP trying to grab some of the momentum from the Nduga actions,” said Anderson.
“We won’t know if it’s real until we see coordinated armed actions both in Nduga and beyond, that will demonstrate that the ULMWP declaration is a reality.
“I personally have my doubts. These [armed separatist] factions abound with ‘generals’ who don’t tend to take orders. They operate within limited commands in discrete areas.”
However Anderson said having the leadership of Wenda might make the difference, and an “unprecedented” unified command would see increased bloodshed.
“He managed to cobble together the ULMWP from civilian representatives of the disparate Papua independence groups and that it’s held this long is impressive.”
The potential unification marks another new development in the long-running conflict, just days after it was revealed West Papuan children have been drawn into the fighting.
TPNPB has acknowledged the presence of teenage and adolescent boys among its ranks, the Associated Press reported last month. On Wednesday Radio New Zealand reportedthe ULMWP had pledged to end the practise, although children would still be trained for combat. However it is unclear whether the declaration will hold, given the OPM’s rejection of military unification.
The use of children as soldiers is a war crime under international law.
Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said it was a sign the conflict was far more serious than the rest of the world acknowledged.
“West Papua needs urgent international intervention, because child soldiers are themselves victims,” she said.
“The Indonesian government’s security approach has created an intractable conflict by brutalising generation after generation of West Papuans.”
Reports of military and rebel violence in the region have continued through this year, including claims of the Indonesian armed forces allegedly using white phosphorus, and rebel attacks on soldiers, something Jakarta denies.

5) West Papua rebel groups join forces in bid for independence from Indonesia
Updated about an hour ago
Three armed separatist groups in the Indonesian region of West Papua have announced they have united to form the West Papuan Army, as activists lobbying for independence declare they are now ready to "take over our country".

Key points:

  • The new army will come under the command of umbrella group ULMWP
  • The group said the move unites political and military wings of the independence movement
  • Experts warn the latest development could stir up tensions with Indonesia's military

The rebel groups have long acted unilaterally in their push for independencefor the region, which will this month mark 50 years since it became part of Indonesia.
Experts said the development was a significant turning point for the movement, but warned it was likely to stir up tensions with Indonesia.

The new army will come under the command of umbrella group United Liberation Movement for West Papua(ULMWP), led by exiled leader Benny Wenda, which uses political and diplomatic means in a push for independence.

"Politically and militarily we are united now. The international community can now see without a doubt that we are ready to take over our country,"Mr Wenda announced via the ULMWP website.
"Indonesia cannot stigmatise us as separatists or criminals anymore, we are a legitimate unified military and political state-in-waiting."

Fear of increased tensions

West Papua, which shares an island with Papua New Guinea, is in the grip of a long-running independence conflict.
Camellia Webb-Gannon, the coordinator of the West Papua Project at the University of Wollongong, said the move marks a significant union between political and military activists.

PHOTO:The Indonesian povinces of West Papua and Papua are often referred to collectively as West Papua. (ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

West Papua, which shares an island with Papua New Guinea, is in the grip of a long-running independence conflict.
Camellia Webb-Gannon, the coordinator of the West Papua Project at the University of Wollongong, said the move marks a significant union between political and military activists.

"It's really important because they are showing … if we were independent, we're not just going to be a military dictatorship. The military is going to answer to the political leaders."

But she also warned the latest development could stir up tensions with Indonesia's military, which has a strong presence in the Papua and West Papua provinces.
As soon as members of the armed independence movement "increase activity" or are "seen to have more of a presence" in West Papua, "the Indonesian military will then make its presence known", she said.
"[The new union] also puts pressure on the international community to either counter the West Papuan narrative that yes, they can take care of themselves, and yes they do have the right and ability to self-determine and self-govern", Dr Webb-Gannon said.
"Or to hold Indonesia to account and to say to Indonesia, 'what are you doing, why are you holding West Papuans down'."

'Ready today to get independence'

Jacob Rumbiak, a spokesman for the ULMWP, said the decision would unite political, intelligence and military wings into one diplomatic group that would push the campaign forward.
"Our military will automatically be under full control of one commander … We already have a very clear agenda to become the best freedom fighters."
The three armed groups include the Tentara Pembebasan Nasiona Papua Barat (TPNPB), which attacked a construction site in December killing 31and sparking a brutal military crackdown in the region.
The Indonesian embassy in Canberra did not responded to requests for comment by the time of publication.

6) Port Moresby evicts West Papuan refugees from city settlement
Published 5 hours ago on 3 July 2019 
By pr9c6tr3_juben

Papua, Jubi – About 250 West Papuans have been served notices of eviction to leave their settlement in Port Moresby, reports The National.
National Capital District Commission officials, escorted by police officers, handed the settlers demolition orders last Thursday and told them to leave their home in the suburb of Rainbow where they had lived for 11 years.
Communal leader Elly Wangai said that some of them were now PNG citizens after former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill allowed them to gain citizenship without paying the K10,000 application fee.
“But unlike other PNG citizens, we don’t have any land to go to. When we were given citizenship, the government did not give us land to settle. And this is the fifth time we have been evicted since 2007.
“We were first evicted from 8-Mile settlement and we settled outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Office at Ela Beach.
“Then we moved to the Boroko Police station. Then to Apex Park at Boroko and now to here.”
Wangai said they were willing to move from the settlement.
‘Drainage area’
“This is a drainage area and we know that and we will move. But we want NCDC to provide land for us.
“If NCDC can evict other PNG settlements from 2-Mile and resettle them at 6-Mile, they should do the same for us.”
Wangai said they had once been given land at Red Hills in the suburb of Gerehu.
“But when we went there, developments were already taking place.
“So we had to return here. Since we were given eviction notices, our children were traumatised and did not attend school.
“Our mothers who are involved in small economical activities like selling doughnuts and ice blocks have stopped.
“They are finding it hard to earn money to look after their family. If we are given land to move, we will be confident to live our daily lives.”
According to ABC, Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop was unaware of the move to serve the demolition orders or what had prompted it.
A vocal supporter of the West Papua cause, Parkop said he would work to stop – or at least stall – the process to carry out the demolition orders, and fulfill his promise to find the settlers a permanent home.
“I hope I can sort it out soon and get proper allocation of the land so they’ve got security and can build a future.” (*)

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