Tuesday, July 9, 2019

1) Traditional police clash with Papuan student activists during peaceful rally in Denpasar

2) Expect Papuan misery to increase
3) The place of the Pacific islands in the Indo-Pacific

Traditional police clash with Papuan student activists during peaceful rally in Denpasar
Around 40 people with the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) took part in Saturday’s rally in Denpasar. (Photo: AMP)

On Saturday, dozens of activists from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) who were holding a rally to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Biak massacre in Denpasar clashed with local organizations and pecalang(traditional Balinese security forces) during their demonstration, with some of them physically assaulted. 
In a statement detailing the chronology of Saturday’s events received by Coconuts Bali, AMP said local organizations and several people claiming to be pecalang blocked their way just as they were about to start their rally. 
“They insisted that we are not allowed to go on with our rally … There was a clash between demonstrators and members of local organizations, during which some of us were hit, kicked and pulled,” AMP said, adding that their posters and banners were also ruined in the process. 
Throughout all this, AMP added that the police just stood by and watched. 
Around 40 people took part in Saturday’s rally, which was organized to commemorate the 21st anniversary of Biak massacre, one of several long-standing human rights abuses in Papua that remains unresolved to this day. 
Commemorating biak massacre and building solidarity
On July 6, 1998, demonstrators who took part in a peaceful rally where the West Papuan Morning Star Flag was raised several days prior were attacked by Indonesian security forces. AMP claimed the massacre not only killed eight people and injured several others, but also led to three people going missing and the arbitrary detainment of dozens others. In addition, around 150 were tortured, while 32 people died mysterious deaths.
“This is why, on July 6, 2019, all of us from AMP Bali called for a complete investigation on human rights abusers in Biak massacre, as well as all other human rights violations in Papua,” AMP said in the statement. 
Abet Gobai, secretary general of AMP’s Bali chapter, told Coconuts Bali, that this is the fifth time the group experienced repression during their rallies. On April 15, Abet said police arrested a number of AMP members during a protest in Denpasar. 
“We are witnessing bigger repression, discrimination and silencing in our democratic spaces. The police fail to create a conducive environment when securing mass rallies, [instead] letting go of their responsibility by allowing clashes between local organizations, traditional police and protesters,” Abet said. 
Abet also said that other chapters of AMP in the country have experienced similar repression. 
“It’s because they called for anti-unity during their speech …  but due to cooperation between the Indonesian military, police and the local community, they dispersed from the rally. They are students, it’s better for them to use their time to study,” Gatra said. 
However, Abet said that AMP’s public rallies have been focused on building solidarity on issues faced by native Papuans, including during their rally on Saturday. 
In a 2018 report, Amnesty International accused Indonesian security forces of having committed nearly 100 extrajudicial killings in Papua and West Papua since 2010, with little to no accountability. The gov’t has continued to use anti-separatist arguments to validate the use of excessive force in Papua, though the international rights group said most of the recorded extrajudicial killings did not take place in a political environment. 
Papua was a colony of the Dutch until the early 1960s, when it declared itself an independent nation in 1961. Neighboring Indonesia took control of the region by force in 1963 and officially annexed it with a UN-backed referendum in 1969 that was widely seen as a sham.

2) Expect Papuan misery to increase

The looming 50th anniversary of a so-called referendum that condemned the two Papuan provinces to exploitation by Indonesia has coincided with a rising tide of militant activity that will bring international attention to the increasingly unstable corner of the archipelago.
The three major militant West Papuan independence groups have allegedly formed an alliance to battle the Indonesian military amid a mounting refugee crisis.
The groups – the West Papua Revolutionary Army, West Papuan National Army and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) – said they would fight together as the West Papua Army to be coordinated by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) – an umbrella group for separatists.
But there is some confusion about whether the new alliance will be watertight and whether its Oxford-based spokesman, Benny Wenda, really speaks for militants in the Papuan jungles.
One political organisation – the long-running domestic separatist group, the OPM, the political wing of the TPNPB – rejected the announcement as “lies and fabrication”.
The Free Papua Movement (OPM) leader, Jeffrey Bomanak, said the groups “reject and deny the claims made in the political statement on the alleged military merger”.
He accused the ULMWP of fraud and deception, claiming signatures of regional commanders were fake and called for an immediate retraction and apology.
A low-level insurrection by indigenous Papuans, who now make up only half the population after years of migration from across Indonesia, has lasted for decades.
Jakarta maintains that resource-rich West Papua should remain part of Indonesia because it was part of the Dutch East Indies, which forms the basis of modern Indonesia.
Using former colonial boundaries to justify ongoing colonial-style rule is a particularly weak argument against the separatists.
Split into the ethnically Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, the region has some of Asean’s most valuable natural resources, but the two provinces remain among the country’s poorest.
The region was formally incorporated into the country after the August 2, 1969, “referendum” of tribal representatives and increased violence can be expected to greet the anniversary.
Guardian journalist George Monbiot said 1,026 men were seized by the Indonesian authorities in 1969, some of their families were taken hostage and they were told to vote in favour of occupation or their tongues would be ripped out. One man who refused was apparently shot dead. The rest unanimously voted in favour of joining Indonesia.
“That is the sole basis on which Indonesia claims proprietary over West Papua,” Monbiot, the author of the book Poisoned Arrows about the province, told the BBC.
Camellia Webb-Gannon, a West Papua specialist at the University of Wollongong in Australia, said a successful union between political and military groups would be significant.
“For the first time the armed wing has now said we are going to answer to the political movement, the ULMWP,” Webb-Gannon told the media. “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.”
Papua has the world’s largest gold mine and its second-largest copper mine, Grasberg, which is run by US giant Freeport-McMoRan. BP also has a large natural gas plant in West Papua. The need to maintain access to Grasberg has dominated western policy towards Jakarta, including its morally bankrupt decision to ignore the butchering of millions of alleged communists in 1965–66.
Although it remains one of the bloodiest chapters in post-1945 history, the large-scale executions across Indonesia were largely ignored by western governments and the international media. As the Vietnam war raged, the west feared losing a key regional ally to communism or access to Papua’s plentiful natural resources.
Little has changed since then.
The resource-rich provinces generate massive tax revenue for Indonesia, with the Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg copper and gold mine delivering US$600 million in taxes per year.
Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan will guard its lucrative contract with Jakarta, allowing it to exploit Grasberg (pictured), in the knowledge the deal would be ripped up if Papuan militants take power.
In December, rebels attacked a road construction team in the central highlands, killing at least 17 people, and triggering a military crackdown.
Since then, around 35,000 civilians have been forced from their homes as the security forces attempt to drive the Papuan liberation forces from the mountainous forests.
The tough terrain, dense vegetation and vast areas mean Indonesian troops will fail to ever stamp out the insurgency.
But human rights will continue to be crushed.
Papuans caught flying the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan separatism, could face 15 years in jail.
Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates.
Clinics often lack staff and medicines throughout the ethnically distinct provinces, Human Rights Watch said.
As in so many other parts of the world, Papua is cursed by containing natural resources which make it too valuable to hand over to rebels groups. But while Papuan wealth is exported to the US and Jakarta and the people are left to rot in poverty, the insurgency will continue to grow.
Grasberg is offers nothing to the indigenous population. Picture credit: YouTube

3) The place of the Pacific islands in the Indo-Pacific
10:47 pm GMT+12, 08/07/2019, Australia

By Brendan Sargeant 

Where the ‘Indo-Pacific’ begins and ends, and what it looks like, depends partly on where you are. It’s a term that has quite subtle but different shades of meaning depending on your national or policy perspective. It is not, for example, a term welcomed by China. And the Indo-Pacific is as much a policy construct as it is a geographical reality, so how it evolves further will depend on how communities of interest in Australia and elsewhere construct and use the term over time.
The challenge for policymakers and others is deciding what the Indo-Pacific should become in the future. The relative absence of the Pacific islands in discussion of the Indo-Pacific draws attention to the need for that idea to evolve further.
Australian strategic policy towards the Pacific islands has been, over decades, quite instrumental in its focus—the islands have been seen as objects that can be shaped and used in various ways to enhance Australia’s strategic position. Offshore detention centres, to use a polite term, are a recent manifestation of this instrumentalism—the island countries are a means to our end. In this case, they’re places to put people we don’t want in Australia.
We’ve described defence cooperation in terms of understanding the environment where we might need to conduct military operations in the future, to shape police and military capabilities in ways that support Pacific island countries’ needs, but also to enable appropriate infrastructure and interoperable capability for the Australian Defence Force.
We’ve also wanted to shape defence and strategic policy thinking in those countries. Important projects such as the Pacific patrol boat program and its successor Pacific maritime security program are not only concerned with providing much-needed capability but also with building a world view about the nature of that strategic environment.
The 2013 defence white paper was the first Defence document to use the term ‘Indo-Pacific’. One idea behind the Indo-Pacific as a framework for thinking about Australia’s strategic environment was that it returned our focus to an older, more traditional framing of our strategic environment—the archipelago to the north.
That white paper, with the idea of the Indo-Pacific as an emerging strategic community, had as a central question: what sort of Indo-Pacific community can we build and how should that community govern itself? This frame tried to establish the idea that all countries have a stake in the Indo-Pacific and its future and that there was much greater benefit to all in some form of strategic order management that was rules based and collaborative.
This is a very different question from that of how the Indo-Pacific strategic system might be bifurcated between the US and China.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an enormous and blunt force that’s reshaping infrastructure across the Indo-Pacific and beyond, including the Pacific islands. It’s being seen as—and feels like—a crisis: a slow-moving one that’s gathering pace and is not the sort of crisis that we’ve had to deal with in the past. But it isn’t the only economic and political force operating in that region; nor is it, when one considers the intensifying effect of climate change, perhaps the largest. But it, more than any other, has heightened anxiety in Australia about our role and position in relation to the Pacific island states. A particular focus for policymakers has been the question of what it might mean for our strategic and security interests if China were to establish a military presence in this part of the world as an extension of its infrastructure engagement.
There’s a danger of responding in a way that reinforces the idea that the Pacific islands are only a site for potential great-power competition, or that they should be seen simply as being within our ‘sphere of influence’, as then–foreign minister Julie Bishop said last year. This is the policy approach that sees the Pacific islands primarily as a means to some larger strategic end, rather than as participants in a diverse Indo-Pacific community still in formation.
Australian strategic thinking needs to step beyond seeing the Pacific islands in an instrumental way and as an arena for future potential conflict. Perhaps the Indo-Pacific idea gives us the opportunity to rethink our construction of this environment in Australian strategic discourse. This might allow a more productive long-term framing of the Indo-Pacific idea in the context of the Pacific islands, along with a more expansive view of strategic challenges, such as climate change, rather than seeing these countries merely as an arena for an emerging competition between major powers.

Brendan Sargeant is honorary professor at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australia National University. From 2013 to 2017 he was associate secretary in the Department of Defence


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