Thursday, July 25, 2019

1) West Papua’s Quest for Independence

2) Freeport’s gold and copper sales down 50% due to mine transition
3) Indonesian logger and palm oil producer, the Korindo Group, is challenging some of the claims by environmental NGO, Mighty Earth.
4) Papuan Separatists Unification Unlikely to Stabilize

The Diplomat

1) West Papua’s Quest for Independence 
50 years since the so-called Act of Free Choice, an independent West Papua is closer but still elusive.

By Olivia Tasevski July 25, 2019

A Papuan rises his fist as he displays the "Morning Star" separatist flag during a protest commemorating the 50th year since Indonesia took over West Papua from Dutch colonial rule, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, May 1, 2013.  Image Credit: AP Photo/Gembong Nusantara

This year marks 50 years since West Papua was officially incorporated into Indonesia via 1969’s ironically named Act of Free Choice, whereby less than 1 percent of Papuans were forced to vote in favor of West Papua’s incorporation into Indonesia. To the dismay of Indonesian government officials, 50 years later, a West Papuan pro-independence movement persists and has made some significant gains. Despite these successes, for the foreseeable future, the movement will continue to be hamstrung due to Indonesia’s opposition to an independent West Papua and successive American and Australian governments supporting Indonesian rule over the province.
Since 1969, Papuans have sought to obtain independence through pacifist actions and, in the case of the Free West Papua Movement (OPM), armed struggle against the Indonesian army. Key pro-independence organizations, such as the pacifist United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and the OPM, argue that Papuans should obtain independence on the grounds that, unlike Muslim-majority Indonesia, Papuans are predominantly Christianand Melanesian. Pro-independence sentiment among Papuans is also motivated by Indonesia’s repressive rule in the province, which the ULMWP labelsa form of “colonialism,” and the fact that human rights violations have been perpetrated by Indonesian forces in West Papua since the 1960s. These violations includeimprisoning pro-independence Papuans for participating in protests, assaulting Papuan journalists, and killing Papuans alongside allegations of torture and rape of Papuan women.
Papuan independence activists have successfully managed to gain support from multiple Melanesian Pacific Island states. Vanuatu in particular has been a longstanding supporter of an independent West Papua. It has providedasylum to pro-independence Papuans and advocatedin favor of West Papua’s independence in international fora, including the United Nations. Furthermore, in 2015, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), consisting of Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands, granted“observer” status to the ULMWP, led by Benny Wenda, a Papuan who obtained asylum in the United Kingdom after fleeing Indonesia in 2003. The MSG conferring this status upon the ULMWP was significant as it boosted the ULMWP’s legitimacy and markedthe first instance in which a Papuan pro-independence group was represented at an international organization.
Beyond Pacific Island states, pro-independence activists have also gained support from prominent British and Australian politicians. Britain’s Labor Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, arguably constitutes the most high-profile supporterof the Papuan independence movement, which is not supportedby the British government. Richard Di Natale, a senator in the Australian Parliament and leader of the Australian Greens political party, supports Papuan self-determination. In 2017, Di Natale publicly condemnedhuman rights abuses that have occurred in West Papua, notably the fact that multiple Papuans have been imprisonedfor raising the Morning Star flag, which is banned in Indonesia as it is the flag of the Papuan independence movement. Moreover, in 2018, Di Natale publicly assertedthat the Indonesian government has denied Papuans right to self-determination “for so long,” a reference to the authoritarian and unrepresentative manner in which the so-called Act of Free Choice was conducted.
A small pro-Papuan independence lobby also exists outside the Australian Parliament. For example, in 2017, a pro-independence activist raisedthe Morning Star flag on the roof of the Indonesian-Consulate General in the Australian state of Victoria. This action unsurprisingly provoked strong condemnation from Indonesia’s foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, and saw West Papua re-emerge as a source of tension in the Australia-Indonesia relationship. In 2017, three Victorian local councils held ceremonies where they raised the Morning Star flag and expressedsupport for the Papuan independence movement.
Pro-independence Papuans have also effectively drawn international attention to their demands and human rights abuses perpetrated by Indonesian forces against Papuans. Notably, in 2019, Benny Wenda presentedthe United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, with a petition signed by 1.8 million Papuans advocating in favor of a UN investigation into alleged human rights violations occurring in West Papua. The petition also called for an internationally supervised vote on Papuan independence.
Despite these gains, since 1962, all Australian governments and Australia’s major political parties, the Liberal Party and the Labor Party, have supported Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua. This support is, in part, motivated by Australia’s desire to maintain good relations with neighboring Indonesia, which constitutes the largesteconomy in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populous state in the world. Bipartisan support for Indonesian rule in West Papua stands in contrast with Australia’s support for Timor-Leste’s independence from Indonesia in the 1990s, which created tension in the Australia-Indonesia relationship.
The Australian government’s support for Indonesian rule in West Papua was codified in 2006 when the Australian and Indonesian governments signed the Lombok Treaty. The treaty stipulatesthat Australia and Indonesia would not “support or participate in activities by any person or entity which constitutes a threat to the stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity of the other Party, including by those who seek to use its territory for encouraging… separatism in the territory of the other Party.” The treaty’s reference to separatism is an implicit reference to the Papuan pro-independence movement, which Indonesian governments have repeatedly labelledas a separatist movement. As a result, via signing the treaty, the Australian government, then led by John Howard, formalized Australia’s policy of supporting Indonesian rule over West Papua.
Similarly, successive U.S. governments have supportedIndonesian sovereignty over West Papua. Thus, the efficacy of the pro-independence movement is and will continue to be limited as it lacks support from either the global hegemon, the United States, or the regional hegemon in the South Pacific, Australia.
Interestingly, even governments of Timor-Leste, which was an Indonesian colony from 1975-99 and had a pro-independence movement that fought against Indonesian rule, have refused to support the Papuan independence movement. This policy is likely motivated by a desire to maintainpositive relations with Indonesia as it constitutes Timor-Leste’s largest and most important neighbor. This support is demonstrated by the fact that Jose Ramos-Horta, who served in the upper echelons of the Timorese pro-independence party, FRETILIN, during Indonesian rule and served as the prime minister, president, and foreign minister of Timor-Leste, has consistently supportedIndonesian sovereignty over West Papua and thus refused to demonstrate solidarity with pro-independence Papuans.
Arguably the most important factor limiting the effectiveness of the movement for an independent West Papua is the fact that all Indonesian governments have opposed Papuan independence. Opposition toward Papuan independence is motivated by a deeply held beliefamong successive Indonesian governments that West Papua is rightfully part of Indonesia as West Papua and Indonesia were both Dutch colonies and together constituted the Netherlands East Indies.
Indonesian governments’ refusal to entertain an independent West Papua is also motivated by the fact that West Papua is a resource-rich province that raises considerable revenue for Indonesian governments. West Papua contains the Grasberg mine, the world’s second-largest copper mine and largestgold mine, which is run by the U.S. mining company, Freeport McMoRan, the largesttaxpayer in Indonesia.
Finally, Indonesian government officials likely fear that an independent West Papua may bolster the pro-independence movement in Maluku, which has existed since the 1950s and has been repressed by Indonesian governments.
In 2019, Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu statedin relation to West Papua, “[They’re] not allowed independence. Full stop.” Despite the efforts of pro-independence Papuans, for the foreseeable future, an independent West Papua will remain prohibited and improbable.
Olivia Tasevski is an International Relations and Asian Studies tutor at the University of Melbourne, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Master of International Relations. She specializes in human rights issues in Indonesia, Australia-Indonesia relations, and the history of U.S. foreign relations.


2) Freeport’s gold and copper sales down 50% due to mine transition
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta / Thu, July 25, 2019/ 05:05 pm

Gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) sold less copper and gold in the first half of 2019, decreasing to almost half the amount sold during the same period last year due to the transition from open pit to underground site.
According to the “second quarter and first-semester” report of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX), one of the shareholders of PTFI, the latter’s copper sales in the first six months of 2019 stood at 325 million pounds or 48 percent lower year-on-year (yoy).
The lower copper sales were in line with the decrease in production, which fell 58.9 percent to 270 million pounds in the January-June period this year from 658 million pounds in the same period last year.
During the same period, PTFI’s gold sales fell 67.03 percent to 420,000 ounces from 1.27 million ounces. Its gold production dropped 76.3 percent to only 316 million ounces from 1.33 million ounces.
By December 2019, FCX estimates that PTFI’s consolidated copper and gold sales volumes will stand at 600 million pounds of copper and 800,000 ounces of gold.
“PTFI will continue to monitor geotechnical conditions to determine the extent of mining at the Grasberg open pit. As PTFI transitions mining from the open pit to underground, metal production is expected to improve by 2021,” FCX further stated. (hen)

3) Indonesian logger and palm oil producer, the Korindo Group, is challenging some of the claims by environmental NGO, Mighty Earth.
3:54 pm on 25 July 2019 

The NGO has been tackling Korindo over its activities in Papua and Maluku for several years, forcing an investigation by the Forestry Stewardship Council.
But the company said it has been complying with Indonesia law, pointing out the FSC requirements are more stringent.
Mighty Earth wants the company dissociated from the FSC but the council, which is maintaining the company's membership, says Korindo has agreed to collaborate "to improve its environmental and social performance and to provide remedy for the possible impacts caused".
Mighty Earth said Korindo must return customary lands, resolve social conflicts and grievances, fairly compensate local communities for lost land, natural resources, and livelihoods, and restore damaged ecosystems.
It also said Korindo needs to finance the restoration of an area at least equivalent to that which it has destroyed over the past two decades.
Korindo said it has launched legal action against Mighty Earth.
Global Risk Insights

4) Papuan Separatists Unification Unlikely to Stabilize

  by Patrick Dupont ,July 25, 2019

West Papuan separatist groups have recently united under a single banner. However, internal conflict and a determined Indonesian government will likely lead to a deterioration in the security environment in Indonesia’s Papua Province. This will increase the risk of disruption to mining operations in the resource-rich province.
On 1 July 2019, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) announcedthe unification of the three main armed separatist groups in Indonesia’s Papua Province under the political leadership of exiled ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda. According to the ‘Vanimo Border Declaration’ signed on 01 May 2019, the West Papua Revolutionary Army, West Papuan National Army, and the West Papua National Liberation Army will unite to form the West Papuan Army. 
This represents a historic step for the West Papuan self-determination movement, with the establishment of a unilaterally declared ‘self–defence force’ under the political leadership of the ULMWP. However, disputesover the actual unity of these factions by another West Papuan political organisation — the Free Papua Movement (OPM) — raises doubts over the cohesion of this new political-military front. 

Deep Roots of Conflict 

West Papua and Papua — collectively referred to as ‘West Papua’ — represents the easternmost provinces of the Indonesian archipelago. Despite being ethnically, culturally, and linguistically connected to neighbouring Papua New Guinea and wider Melanesia, West Papua has been part of Indonesia since 1969. 
Sovereignty over West Papua was handed over to Indonesia from the Dutch following a UN-backed referendum on independence dubbed the ‘Act of Free Choice’ in which approximately 1,000pre-selected government delegates voted on behalf of the entire population. Despite questions over the referendum’s legitimacy, Indonesia has vigorously defended its claims over West Papua because it was once part of the Dutch East Indies — the basis of Indonesia’s current borders. 
Since coming under Indonesian sovereignty, West Papua has experienced decades of low-intensity but consistent conflict. This has involved an ongoing armed struggle by several separatist groups which has been met with military force and political suppression by the Indonesian Government. Human rights groups have long accused Indonesian security forces of abuses in West Papua, with independence activists highlighting the ‘slow-motion genocide’ of the indigenous population through transmigration programs from densely populated Java. 
Recent pushes by Jakarta have attempted to simmer tensions through a ‘hearts and minds’ approach in what is one of Indonesia’s most impoverished and underdeveloped regions. This has included endingthe controversial transmigration program in 2015 and an ambitious infrastructure development program throughout West Papua. Despite this, grievances over historical human rights abuses, an overt military presence in the province, and the exploitation of natural resources has fueled the drive for self-determination. 
Most recently, on December 2018, armed separatists from the military wing of the OPM attacked a state-owned construction site, killing31 workers. The year before, tensions over labour disputes, environmental damage, and resentment over revenue distribution from the Grasberg gold and copper mine boiled over resulting in a state of emergency and a violent standoff between OPM-aligned militants and security forces. 

Selfdetermination, Sovereignty, and Gold

The Grasberg mine — the world’s second-largest copper mine — has been at the heart of West Papua’s turbulent history since it began operating in 1967 under US company Freeport–McMoran. Most recently, the Indonesian Government nationalised the mine buying a $3.85 billionmajority share. The purchase came instead of new regulations requiring foreign mining companies to divest their majority stakes in Indonesian operations to local entities.
The most recent push to nationalise Indonesia’s natural resources highlights not only Indonesia’s economic interests but also its desire for control and sovereignty. Maintaining control over West Papua is not only a matter of preserving the nation’s sovereignty but has also been key to Indonesia’s economic prosperity. In the eyes of critical decision-makers in Jakarta, an organised, coherent, and active self-determination movement in West Papua represents a severe threat.

Indonesian Government Response

Since the ULMWP announcement, the Indonesian response has been somewhat muted with military officials ‘shrugging off’ the formation of the West Papuan Army. West Papuan separatists have traditionally been treated as ‘armed criminal groups’ and will likely continue to be so unless there is a significant shift in the way the separatists fight. 
In response to a gunfight between separatists and the Indonesian military in January 2019, the Chief of Indonesia’s Presidential Staff General Moeldoko floated the ideaof re–categorising West Papuan ‘armed criminal groups’ as separatists. This would place any response to the separatist activity under the jurisdiction of the military as opposed to the police. Such a move would likely draw a stronger military presence; impact mining operations, and have a destabilising impact on both the security and economic environment in West Papua.
Despite the declaration of a West Papuan Army, it remains unlikely that such a group would be able to mount significant and organised offensive and defensive operations in West Papua. Separatists groups remain ill-equipped, poorly disciplined, and under-trained. Furthermore, the historically factionalised nature of the movement and personal loyalties to individual commanders will likely cause in-fighting and possible conflict between the newly amalgamated groups. It is also likely that factions operating in areas with high-value natural resources, such as the Grasberg mine, will prioritise the prosperity of their communities over the overarching policies of the ULMWP. 

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