Monday, July 8, 2019

1) Insight: Acknowledge child soldiers to save Papua’s children

2) Renowned West Papuan rights activist dies
3) Benny Wenda will receive the "Freedom of Oxford” award
4) Search efforts continued to find missing MI-17 in Papua: Military
5) West Papuan committee urges primacy of Liberation Army

1) Insight: Acknowledge child soldiers to save Papua’s children

Hipolitus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge 
Researcher at the Marthinus Academy, Jakarta
 Wamena   /   Tue, July 9, 2019   /   09:15 am

Children play at sunset at Namatota Island’s dock in Kaimana, West Papua. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Blood Diamond, a 2006 Hollywood blockbuster, depicts how the illicit economic activity to secure diamonds in Sierra Leone involved conflicting domestic and international groups. The film vividly depicts a rebel group abducting children and transforming them into deadly soldiers. In many armed conflicts and civilian wars, children are not only victims but also active participants who likely prolong the conflict. Much scholarly work has scrutinized such phenomena in Africa. However, other areas also have the emerging role of child soldiers in conflicts, although they are less known such as in Papua.
The 2018 United Nations annual report on children and armed conflicts exhibits the rise of child soldiers in 17 countries compared to 15 countries in 2013. Most of the child soldiers operate in African and Middle Eastern countries. Studies and reports on the growing number of child soldiers in Asia, including in Indonesia’s Papua, are still lacking. One reason is due to the highly restricted access for humanitarian work in conflict areas in this region. However, some international media spotted the growing use of under 18-year-olds in Papua recently. A photo describing some children holding guns drew concerns over the violation of international laws on recruiting and deploying children in the ongoing armed conflict in Nduga.
This armed conflict is another example of how the central government has presumably overlooked the fact that child soldiers exist in a conflict area, such as Papua. The province’s complex problems range from conflicting historical perspectives and human rights to development policies — and the use of children as part of the armed conflict in Indonesia’s easternmost area may be the most understudied issue.
My interviews and data collection on the ground suggest that some armed groups have been using children since 2015, such as in Lanny Jaya and Nduga regencies. Compared to the African warlords who use children mainly through abduction, I found that children in Papua voluntarily joined the pro-independence West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB).
Another critical difference is that most African warring parties can access financial resources, which can lure children’s loyalty. The scattered pro-independence groups in Papua lack material resources, yet the shared communal identity or ideology can bind the children’s loyalty. Nevertheless, the African and Papuan child soldiers are similarly exposed to a conflict environment or have been trapped in conflict zones from a very young age.
Repression, intimidation, discrimination, lack of education and poor living conditions are push factors that drive these children out of their environment or communities. Such factors have been common among indigenous Papuans. On the contrary, a shared ideology and group identity have helped to attract children to be part of the pro-independence group led by Egianus Kogeya in Nduga. Egianus himself reportedly took up arms against security officers when he was 17 years old. By joining the group, the children shared the same political ideology of independence.
I encountered a displaced boy from Nduga who spontaneously shared his anger living in Wamena with thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) lacking basic supplies and his worry about his future. He only wanted to return to his village, yet it wasn’t safe. The boy was presumably willing to join the pro-independence group because he had witnessed some of his relatives die in the jungle after security officers allegedly raided his village.
The children, traumatized due to repression and intimidation by security officers, play two roles in the conflict. Their noncombatant role includes providing information, food and directions in remote locations in Papua. Another role is taking up arms against security personnel, mostly the military.
However, the pull and push factors alone cannot fully explain why the children initially took up arms and continued to play either noncombatant or combatant roles. Accessibility has enabled the children to be recruited and become motivated to join the armed groups, as they live in remote villages with poor conditions and frustrating refugee shelters in neighboring areas of Nduga.
The children are conflict victims, yet the central government has turned a blind eye to preventing or resolving the armed conflict and its effects. Nduga’s armed conflict shows the state’s failure to provide a secure environment for the children to pursue their future. The military-led counterinsurgency operation, which has lasted for seven months, continues to create collective fear and trauma among the children, with no sign of abating.
The central government is clearly absent in providing secure and supportive conditions to such children. The absence of state recognition of the IDPs from Nduga aggravates their poor living conditions. Further, it also magnifies strong sentiments among the displaced children to join the pro-independence groups because the government never addresses the collective anger and trauma related to the conflict.
Although Indonesia ratified the UN Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2012, the local military authority has never admitted there have been child soldiers operating within the ranks of some pro-independence groups across the area. This fact will merely generate the increased mobilization of children into hostilities and complicate the opportunity to reintegrate former child combatants into Papuan society.
The writer is a researcher at the Marthinus Academy in Jakarta and is conducting fieldwork in Papua. The views expressed are his own.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.


2) Renowned West Papuan rights activist dies
7 minutes ago 

Leading West Papuan human rights activist Ferry Marisan has died in Jayapura.

Mr Marisan is well known for his work over two decades with the Advocacy of Human Rights Institution, ELSHAM Papua.
He played a prominent role in raising awareness about Papuan rights, including in relation to exploitation of Papua's mineral resources.
Mr Marisan was also a renowned musician whose recordings and performances with the Black Paradise group gained a large following.
Tabloid Jubi reported that Mr Marisan died at Abepura hospital from diabetes complications.
He is survived by his wife and two children.

A google translate. Be-aware google translate can be a bit erratic.
Original bahasa link at

3) Benny Wenda will receive the "Freedom of Oxford" award

Papua No. 1 News Portal | Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi - Benny Wenda will receive the "Oxford Freedom ox" award from the Oxford City Council, England. The chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) will join forces with figures such as Colin Dexter, Nelson Mandela, Sir Roger Bannister and Lord Nuffield who have received the award.

Oxford City Council members agreed to award Benny Wenda last October after being proposed by Oxford Mayor who is also a member of the current Green Party, Craig Simmons. Simmons received cross-party support and he said Benny Wenda had a positive impact globally through his campaign to free West Papua from Indonesia.

Simmons said he proposed that Benny Wenda get the award, arguing that the criteria for Freedom Oxford were prospective recipients who had significant impact.

"We have given it to Nelson Mandela and people based at Oxford, like Colin Dexter, who have a global impact. Benny fits it and his family grows here (Oxford), "Simmons revealed the reason to Jubi via e-mail on Monday (07/08/2019).

Wenda will join other famous people such as former Prime Minister and Labor Party leader Clement Attlee, Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig, commander in chief of the British Army during the First World War and several other global figures such as Aung San Suu Kyi. But the award obtained by Suu Kyi was canceled by the City Council after Suu Kyi was criticized for not acting in the face of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in the state of Myanmar, Rakhine.

Besides being given to people who, in the opinion of the council have had a certain positive impact on the global community, "Freedom of Oxford" was also given to those who provided exceptional service to the city of Oxford.

This award is given after advice from board members and approval by all parties. There must be a vote that results in approval of at least 2/3 of those attending the vote.

Benny Wenda will receive this award at a special city council special meeting on July 17. (*)

4) Search efforts continued to find missing MI-17 in Papua: Military
8 hours ago

Magelang, C Java (ANTARA) - Army Chief of Staff Gen. Andika Perkasa has hinted that search efforts to locate the Indonesian Army's MI-17 helicopter, going missing in Papua Province since June 28, will be continued.

"The joint search operation is expected to be continued. We are optimistic that all Indonesians will pray for the immediate finding of the missing helicopter," he told journalists after inauguration of the military academy's graduates here on Monday.

On Monday, the search operation to trace the helicopter was conducted by the regional military command's personnel along with those from the National Search and Rescue Agency (SAR) and the Indonesian Defence Forces' Headquarters, he remarked.

However, the SAR's efforts to locate the missing helicopter after taking off from Oksibil, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province, on June 28, were hindered by factors including the erratic weather conditions and difficulties on ground due to inaccessibility to roads.

Consequently, search efforts were conducted through sweeping aerial operations, Perkasa revealed.

Since the day of its missing, search efforts to locate the helicopter have been steadily made by involving a Bell Helicopter 206 and Bell Helicopter 412 bearing registration number HA-5177.

On Sunday afternoon, search for the MI 17 helicopter was conducted by land and aerial operations but to no avail.

Deputy Chief of Information for the Cenderawasih Regional Military Command Lt Col Inf Dax Sianturi remarked that members of the joint SAR team had conducted the search in the villages of Bulangkop and Tangen but had failed to locate the helicopter.

The sweeping aerial operations also yielded no result. Overcast conditions since Sunday morning hampered aerial search efforts, he revealed.

The MI-17 helicopter, bearing registration number HA-5138, was carrying 12 passengers and crew members on board, who had earlier flown to Okbibab to deliver logistics to soldiers serving in the area.

The crew members aboard the helicopter were pilots CPN Captain Aris and CPN Lieutenant Bambang, co-pilot First Lieutenant CPN Ahwar, Head Sergeant Suriyatna, Sergeant Dita, Head Private Dwi Purnomo, and Private Aharul.

The passengers, who were members of the Battalion 725/WRG, comprised Second Sergeant Ikrar Setya Nainggolan, Private Yanuarius Loe, Private Risno, Second Private Sujono Kaimuddin, and Second Private Tegar Hadi Sentana. EDITED BY INE
Reporter: Heru Suyitno, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Eliswan Azly


5) West Papuan committee urges primacy of Liberation Army
The West Papua National Committee has come out against a reconfiguration of military forces fighting for independence from Indonesia.

6:40 am today  
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua claims it's taking political leadership of a new unified military force, the West Papua Army.
The Movement (ULMWP) last week said the army was a combination of the West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB) and two smaller fighting forces.
But TPNPB representatives have since claimed they do not support the unification.
A spokesman for the Committee, Victor Yeimo, said the two smaller forces had s negligible presence on the ground in Papua and should not be included
"We are supporting the ULMWP but we encourage them to only recognise the TPNPB as the one and only military defence. If you want to unite, don't degradate the existing organisation, the TPNPB," Mr Yeimo said.
The committee's central purpose remained peaceful campaigning for an independent Papua, which Mr Yeimo said had gained strength from growing international solidarity.
However, he conceded that a military force was necessary for any fledgling nation, particularly when there is an opposing armed force (Indonesia's army) on the ground.
"It will not stop them fighting," he said of the political machinations at play. "This is the reality in every struggle, a liberation army."
Mr Yeimo said the committee wanted to see Papuan military groups uniting but that it had to be done under the constitution of the TPNPB.
But he warned that the approach of the ULMWP chair Benny Wenda in endorsing the new West Papua Army was made without buy-in from the TPNPB.
"Everything comes form outside, from Benny Wenda, from outside. It's not good for the unity. It will kill the unity because in our history there are too many people claiming they are the president, 
who claimed they have their own constitution.”

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