Wednesday, July 17, 2019

1) Indonesia Seeking Closer South Pacific Engagement


2) Poverty rate at 3.47% in Jakarta, but 27.53% in Papua: BPS

3) Benny Wenda: West Papua leader receives freedom of Oxford


4) Recognition of customary forests yet to help indigenous peoples
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1) Indonesia Seeking Closer South Pacific Engagement
17 JULY 2019 Jarryd de Haan, Research Analyst, Indian Ocean Research Programme

Background


Indonesia, in collaboration with New Zealand and Australia, hosted the 2019 Pacific Exposition in Auckland, between 12 and 14 July. The event was aimed at boosting Indonesia’s engagement with the South Pacific region in trade, investment and diplomacy. It was attended by delegations from nineteen Pacific countries and territories. On the opening day of the event, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that her country will seek to establish diplomatic relations with Niue and the Cook Islands and pursue trade deals with Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Comment
Following the expo, Indonesia’s potential for new exports to the South Pacific reached approximately US$70 million. While that figure is relatively small, among the smaller Pacific countries it could be seen as a significant step towards opening Indonesian trade with the region. Indonesian exports to Pacific countries, other than Australia and New Zealand, have grown marginally from US$261 million in 2013, to US$299 million in 2018. The vast majority of those exports were to Papua New Guinea, which received approximately 71 per cent of Indonesian exports to the region. The remaining Pacific Island countries, therefore, are mainly untouched as potential markets for Indonesia. There are, however, only limited opportunities to develop those markets. Most Pacific Island countries experience slower GDP growth rates (under five per cent) than South-East Asian countries and have significantly smaller populations.
It is unlikely, therefore, that Indonesia sees the South Pacific as a priority for economic engagement, but the region does hold some significance in a geopolitical sense. While relatively little of Indonesia’s trade goes directly to Pacific countries, the bulk of its maritime trade to North and South America passes through the Pacific region. Maintaining maritime security in those waters, therefore, is a high priority.
Additionally, the Indonesian Government, like Canberra and Wellington, has concerns over the growing influence of China in Pacific Island countries. China has become a significant contributor to development assistance in the region, and, while Australia probably still leads in the amount of actual aid given, China’s aid programme lacks any transparency, inflaming suspicions about its intentions in the region. In continuing to pursue its foreign policy of “a thousand friends and zero enemies” and strengthening its diplomatic links to the Pacific, Indonesia hopes to offset some of China’s influence.
There are, however, obstacles to Indonesia’s relationship with the Pacific, the most visible of which is concern from Pacific countries surrounding Indonesia’s treatment of the situation in West Papua. Vanuatu, a vocal supporter of West Papuan self-determination, was invited to the Pacific Expo, but did not send a delegation. Instead it sent its resident high commissioner. While other Pacific leaders have not been as vocal on the subject as Vanuatu, they have consistently expressed concerns on the issue through the Pacific Islands Forum. Following the Pacific Expo, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters signalled that Indonesia may be working towards allowing some foreign journalists access to West Papua. It is unclear, however, if Indonesia will actually commit to such an arrangement and, if it does, how much access any foreign journalists would actually have.
Although the Pacific Expo did not see any significant outcomes, it does indicate recognition of the region’s importance to Indonesia. While it is unlikely that the island states of the South Pacific will become a priority, neither can they afford to be ignored in Indonesia’s broader foreign policy strategies.
Any opinions or views expressed in this paper are those of the individual author, unless stated to be those of Future Directions International. 

Published by Future Directions International Pty Ltd.

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2) Poverty rate at 3.47% in Jakarta, but 27.53% in Papua: BPS

Jakarta   /   Wed, July 17, 2019   /   10:27 am

  • News Desk The Jakarta Post

The wealth disparity between Indonesians living in urban and rural areas remains even as the country’s poverty rate decreased to 9.41 percent in March from 9.66 percent in September 2018 and 9.82 percent in March 2018, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS).
“It’s important to note that the wealth disparity between urban and rural areas remained very high with the rate in rural areas almost two times that of the rate in urban areas,” BPS head Suhariyanto said on Monday.
The poverty rate in urban areas was recorded at 6.69 percent and 12.85 percent in rural areas
Suhariyanto added that the poverty disparity among provinces also remained very high.
Jakarta, for example, has the lowest poverty rate of 3.47 percent, while Papua has the highest at 27.53 percent.
Suhariyanto said that currently, the number of poor people in Indonesia stood at 25.41 million, an 800,000 decrease from the figure in March 2018.
He said the decrease in the poverty rate was supported by an overall increase in farmers’ wages, price decrease of staples like poultry, vegetable oil, sugar and chilies, as well as the low inflation rate, which was at 1.52 percent in the period of September 2018 to March 2019.
He also noted that the increase in the government’s social assistance through non-cash food assistance program (BPNT) and rice assistance (Rastra) to poor households was a significant factor in pushing down the poverty rate.
Under Rastra, the government distributed 10 kilograms of rice to 14 million poor families every month, while through the BPNT, the government distributed Rp 110,000 (US$8) to 15.6 million poor families in the form of e-money every month.
Meanwhile, the Gini ratio decreased by 0.007 points to 0.382 in March from the same period last year. The Gini ratio is a measure of inequality in which zero represents complete equality and one represents complete inequality. (nal/bbn)


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3) Benny Wenda: West Papua leader receives freedom of Oxford

  • BBC 9 hours ago

The exiled leader of an Indonesian separatist group has been awarded the freedom of the city of Oxford.
City councillors honoured West Papua independence leader Benny Wenda, who was granted UK asylum in 2002.
The Foreign Office said the decision "has no bearing on UK government policy" and it does not support Papuan independence.
The British ambassador was summoned in 2013 to explain why Mr Wenda's group was allowed to set up an Oxford office. 
The Free West Papua Campaign believes that there should be a referendum in West Papua over whether the islands should have independence. 
It claims tribes on the islands have suffered under the Indonesian security forces.
Lord Mayor of Oxford Craig Simmons said the accolade was "well-deserved" and Mr Wenda was "contributing so much both locally and on the international stage".

Mr Wenda said: "Oxford was one of the first to hear the cry of the West Papuan people for justice, human rights and self-determination.
"This award shows that the people of Oxford are listening and responding."
He was granted political asylum in the UK in 2002, and opened the Free West Papua Campaign headquarters in Oxford in 2013. 
After the Indonesian foreign ministry expressed "strong concern" over the situation, the British ambassador said it had "nothing whatsoever to do with the British Government".
In response to the honour, the Foreign Office said: "Local councils are politically independent from central government and so this is a matter for Oxford City Council.
"We support Indonesia's territorial integrity and regard Papua as an integral part of Indonesia."
In March a Polish tourist was jailed for five years after being convicted of plotting with rebels in the Papua province.

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4) Recognition of customary forests yet to help indigenous peoples
 Jakarta   /   Wed, July 17, 2019   /   12:27 pm
Sandrayati Moniaga

On May 16, 2012, the Constitutional Court restored the rights of indigenous peoples over customary forests.  This decision has had wide implications. It is a correction to the decades of state domination over customary forests belonging to indigenous peoples. With that decision, the Constitutional Court reconfirmed that the indigenous peoples are the rightful owners that hold the capacity to execute legal actions and thus can be legally held responsible for their actions.
Now, years after the ruling, customary forests are supposedly no longer part of   state forests. But can indigenous peoples and the nation really celebrate the end of an era of repression? Can we all celebrate the restitution of indigenous peoples’ right over their land? While some progress has taken shape, unfortunately the struggle is not over yet.
Under the New Order, human rights abuses were rampant against indigenous peoples. The 1967 Basic Forestry Law was used to forcefully acquire customary forests.  Unfortunately, more than 20 years after the New Order regime fell, agrarian conflicts stemming from this capitalistic process is still around us.
Some of the cases became important parts of Indonesian modern history, particularly the history of Indonesia’s human rights movements. Examples are the conflicts of the Haruku peoples against Ingold in Central Maluku, the Dayak Benuaq and Tunjung people versus Kelian Equatorial Mining in East Kalimantan, dozens of Batak Toba peoples of North Sumatra who opposed the tree plantation company PT Inti Indorayon Utama, the Amungme and Kamoro peoples against Freeport McMoran Indonesia in Papua and many more.
I had the privilege to be a part of this history. After the New Order ended, several Indonesian indigenous leaders and activists approached me in 1998. They raised the need to organize an indigenous community’s congress and they requested me to chair the congress’ organizing committee. The congress was needed to establish better coordination among indigenous communities in advocating their rights. The first Indonesian Indigenous Peoples Congress was eventually held in 1999.
The congress saw a historic moment with the establishment of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN). The organization currently represents 2,332 indigenous peoples throughout Indonesia and has become well respected nationally and by the international community as well.
Now, 20 years after a nationwide indigenous peoples organization was established and seven years after the Constitutional Court ruling, the rights of the indigenous peoples are not yet fully protected and fulfilled.
Although President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo himself acknowledged the existence and rights of indigenous peoples in his Nawacita campaign document in 2014, conflicts involving indigenous peoples have still resulted in human rights violations. So what went wrong?
Over six decades ago the Constitution of the new republic had already acknowledged the existence of the indigenous peoples. The elucidation of the original Article 18 of the 1945 Constitution clearly stated that the lowest level of autonomy of the nation lies within the villages and the kampung. It refers to indigenous governing structures that should be recognized and respected by the state, based on the “right of origin”.  
Following the 2012 Constitutional Court ruling, efforts to acknowledge and protect the indigenous peoples became stronger. The ruling was followed by intensified advocacy by the government, indigenous peoples, indigenous community organizations and NGOs to bolster recognition of indigenous peoples, customary land and customary forests.
In 2014, the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) utilized the above Constitutional Court Ruling No. 35 its national inquiry into the violations of human rights in forest areas.
The Inquiry reviewed hundreds of cases of contested land claims in forest areas that involved indigenous peoples. Forty of them were selected for further study, heard at public hearings in seven regions and once at the national level. Of the 40 cases, Komnas HAM recommended the government prioritize law enforcement efforts for companies including revocation of permits in seven cases, and recommendations for priority mediation between companies and indigenous peoples in six cases. The other cases required more comprehensive efforts. Unfortunately only few cases were resolved.
It is important for us as a civilized nation to restore indigenous peoples’ rights, not on a case-by-case basis. We can learn from the process of rights restitution in other countries such as South Africa. After the apartheid regime fell they established the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights. The commission was assigned within a certain time period to restore the land rights of the indigenous people based on claims by a person or a community dispossessed of their rights to land after June 19, 1913, as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices.
We can apply a similar principle and enrich it with Indonesian values. That way, we can systematically solve the root problems and provide remedies for the violation of human rights of the indigenous peoples, which would eventually contribute to their well-being. 
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The writer is deputy of external affairs and a commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights. 
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.
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