Sunday, July 7, 2019

AWPA update Summary of events in West Papua (17 June -7 July 2019)

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

AWPA update
Summary of events in West Papua  (17 June -7 July 2019)

The region
Support for West Papua cause always important to Vanuatu
Vanuatu Daily Post Jul 2, 2019
 The plight of West Papuans as Melanesian citizens is an important issue that Vanuatu must continue to support. Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu, made this clear in his keynote address yesterday to all Vanuatu’s Heads of Missions (HOM) who are currently in the capital for the 3-day 8th HOM meeting. “The human rights violation and marginalization of Melanesian West Papuans is not a secret and we must continue to advocate for appropriate international attention to this situation,” he said. “The incredible show of Pacific Island solidarity is a landmark moment in the West Papuan struggle for self-determination.” The minister reflected that when he attended the 49th Forum Leaders Meeting in Nauru with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, new priority regional policies were adopted by Leaders. These include regional security, climate change and disaster resilience, fisheries and oceans, childhood obesity and non-communicable diseases, and West Papua. It is anticipated that these issues will also form the basis for discussions at this year’s Forum.

ULMWP applies for MSG membership
Vanuatu Daily Post Jun 20, 2019

The United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) has officially submitted its application for full membership of the regional Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) with the formal handing-over of the application to the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Wednesday 19th June. The United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) has officially submitted its application for full membership of the regional Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) with the formal handing-over of the application to the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Wednesday 19th June. The Deputy Director General of the MSG Secretariat, Mr Peter Eaefere, received the application that was presented to the MSG Secretariat on behalf of the ULMWP by Vanuatu’s Special Envoy for the Decolonization of West Papua to the Pacific Islands States, Ms Lora Lini. The formal handing-over of the application was witnessed by ULMWP executive member, Ms Paula Makabory, and the First Political Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Ms Anthea Toka Arukole.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu, said the new application for membership of ULMWP in the MSG follows the new criteria and procedure for submission approved at the last MSG Summit in Port Moresby last year and calls for the full membership of the organization that represents the movement of the Melanesian people of West Papua in the MSG. Regenvanu also called on Leaders of the MSG to favorably consider the application and to elevate the ULMWP from its current observer status to becoming a full member of the MSG family. Regenvanu confirmed that Vanuatu would ensure that the submission of the new application by ULMWP would be brought to the attention of the Officials, Foreign Ministers and Leaders at the next MSG Leaders Meeting that is scheduled to be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The submission of the application for full membership by the ULMWP comes shortly after the election of new Prime Ministers of MSG members the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

The Liberation Movement already has observer status in the regional group whose full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's Kanaks.

Johnny Blades of RNZ Pacific  in a report 21 June said  
“In the past few years, MSG member governments have been divided over whether to elevate the West Papuans' status in the group. The membership bid's prospects of being approved depend largely on a change in position from PNG and Fiji who have been the strongest supporters of Indonesian rule in West Papua”.
and  "Indonesia, which has associate member status in the MSG, is strongly opposed to the Liberation Movement. According to Jakarta, West Papuans are already represented in the MSG by Indonesia's position in the group". 

NZ foreign minister to raise West Papua issues with Indonesia
RNZI  20 June 2019 
New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, says he will raise concerns over human rights abuses in West Papua with his Indonesian counterpart.

Winston Peters at the select committee today. Photo: RNZ / Charlie Dreaver

Mr Peters was responding to a question from Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman in a select committee hearing today. Ms Ghahraman said there had been "concerning" developments in Papua and asked the Foreign Minister if he would raise this with Indonesia. Mr Peters said he will bring it up with Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi when she visits New Zealand soon. "It is a concern, not just for New Zealand, but particularly with Melanesian countries and our job is to try and help Indonesia solve the problem for us, so that's what our objective is and we do have a plan to go about it but it will take some time." Winston Peters said in March that violence in Papua would have to end before negotiations between rebels and the state could start.

Pacific Forum countries urged to follow up on West Papua
RNZI 28 June 2019 
A West Papuan human rights defender has called for more Pacific islands countries to speak up internationally about human rights abuses in her homeland.

Rosa Moiwend, West Papuan reearcher and human rights defender. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Rosa Moiwend, who has been visiting New Zealand this week, said it was important that Pacific Islands Forum countries advanced this issue to reflect widespread, grassroots concern for West Papua in the region. At the 2015 Pacific Forum summit, leaders agreed to push for a fact-finding mission to Papua. Indonesia is yet to allow such a mission to visit, but Ms Moiwend said forum members must follow this up. "Because otherwise it's just lip service from the forum," she said. "Members of the Pacific Islands Forum are also UN members, so we need more and more Pacific Island countries to speak about the human rights situation in West Papua." According to Ms Moiwend, while several small Pacific countries have raised Papua at the UN, bigger countries such as Australia and New Zealand should support them.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo's infrastructure development drive in Papua is proving traumatic for remote indigenous communities, Ms Moiwend said.
Its centre-piece is the Trans-Papua Road project which is being built through some of Papua's most remote terrain. The project is also at the heart of heightened conflict in Papua's Highlands since the West Papua Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers last December. While conceding that opening up access to Papua through the project had its benefits, Ms Moiwend said it also brought outsiders and development that local Papuans were not prepared for. "It will also open a space for more and more military and police posts along the road, because of the security reason that they will say.
"And it's actually threatened people's lives because for West Papuans people are traumatic with the presence of the military." Ms Moiwend's family are customary landowners in Merauke in Papua's south where rapid oil palm and agri-business development is underway. "Customary land is actually affected by these big projects - food project and oil palm plantation," Ms Moiwend explained, adding that indigenous communities had little say in the development "I think government needs to discuss with the people. You can't just come and (start) plotting the land and then invite the investor to come and invest their money because people rely on our land. "The land is the source of our food. So if they want to replace with something else, then how can they provide food for our people?"

Rosa   also  told Pacific Media Watch contributing editor Michael Andrew about Indonesia’s confiscation of indigenous land for oil palm developments and its attempt to isolate West Papua from the rest of the Pacific.
“Land has been taken away from the indigenous people,” she says in this video report.“And this massive food project is a kind of third wave of taking people’s land without permission.”Moiwend also says there needs to be stronger media coverage.

Indonesia to make major Pacific pitch at NZ expo
RNZ Pacific1 July 2019 
Indonesia will use a landmark business and trade exposition next week in New Zealand to launch a fresh diplomatic push in the Pacific, as the Southeast Asian nation continues to face regional scrutiny over alleged human rights abuses in West Papua. The Pacific Exposition, which will take place in Auckland from July 11-14, is expected to bring together the foreign ministers of Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia, as well as senior government officials from across Polynesia and Melanesia. A bilateral agreement is to be signed with the Cook Islands at the same time. The event is the latest foray in a determined diplomatic outreach in the Pacific region that Indonesia's government of Joko Widodo has overseen in the past few years.

Jakarta has made no bones about its aim of greater connectivity with a region that has been critical of Indonesian administration of restive Papua. The Auckland expo is the strongest sign yet of Indonesia's intent. Pitched as a trade, investment and tourism forum, it will involve dozens of government and private sector representatives from several Pacific Island countries, with most of their expenses paid for by the Indonesian government. "The exposition is also the first step towards connecting goods and people of the Pacific and Southeast Asia," reads a flier for the event.

Flier for the Pacific Expo 2019 in Auckland, organised by Indonesia's government. Photo: RNZ Pacific

Indonesian embassy officials -- who in April quietly toured several Pacific nations to drum up support for the forum -- said it has been well-received across the region. Still, according to one person who has advised embassy officials, Vanuatu's government has refused to attend, the only Pacific nation approached to do so. Full report

Conference  -Democracy, Sovereignty and Self-Determination in the Pacific Islands 
2019 Conference 25 - 27  JUNE 2019 University of New Caledonia, Noumea

An excellent Pacific Islands Political Studies Association (PIPSA) conference took place in Noumea.  The Australian National University Department of Pacific Affairs and the University of New Caledonia LARJE Centre will be co-convening the conference. The theme “Democracy, Sovereignty and Self-Determination in the Pacific Islands”.  There were very informative sessions on West Papua in both the French and English streams. Other sessions included Norfolk Island, designing Referendums for peacekeeping and many more issue of concern in the pacific.  There was an excellent keynote address by the  Pacific Community Director-General, Colin Tukuitonga. Nic Maclellan (Islands Business) also gave a public talk – “Colonialism français et souveraineté partagée dans le Pacifique”. It was also good to meet and network with presenters and attendees.  Andre from the local Kanak radio station, Radio Djiido did a number of interviews with presenters of  West Papuan (and other) sessions. There will be a publication eventually from the conference.

Lest we forget-21 years since the Biak massacre

The 6 July marked 21 years since the Biak Massacre when the Indonesian security forces massacred scores of people in Biak, West Papua.  
The victims, included women and children who had gathered for a peaceful rally. They were killed at the base of a water tower flying the Morning Star flag On the 2 July 1998, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised on top of a water tower near the harbour in Biak. Activists and local people gathered beneath it singing songs and holding traditional dances. As the rally continued, many more people in the area joined in with numbers reaching up to 500 people.On the 6 July the Indonesian security forces attacked the demonstrators, massacring scores of people.

Indonesian consulate 6 July


Call for Australia to raise Biak massacre with Jakarta (RNZ Pacific)

Ben Bohane wins $10,000 Bougainville mission grant for Pacific journalism
Vanuatu-based Australian photojournalist Ben Bohane was awarded the $10,000 grant out of 22 applicants for his ongoing work in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. He told Pacific Media Watch he was honoured to received the grant and hoped it would “grow interest and respect for Pacific-based journalists to better inform Australians about what is going on.” Asia Pacific Report

Ben Bohane ... "covering Bougainville for many years, including during the civil war period". Image: RNZ

Polish man in Papua prison says his government of little help 
A Polish man imprisoned in Indonesia's Papua province for treason says his government has been of little help to him.
RNZI 3 July 2019

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.

Papua Church network seeks reconciliation
But clashes in the restive Indonesian province continue amid mutual suspicions

The new leader of the Papua Peace Network, Father John Bunday, says that reconciliation is needed to unite divided Papuans. (UCAN News)    (Photo by Veni Mahuze/ 

After the death of co-founder Father Neles Tebay in April, the Papuan Peace Network (PPN) sought a replacement who would also be passionately committed to facilitating dialogue in Indonesia's troubled West Papua Province.
A month later, human rights activists, religious leaders, academics, lawyers and others involved in the network held a meeting
And they decided that Father Jhon Bunay was the right man to take over as the organization's coordinator. Prior to his election, Father Bunay was a professor of Christian spirituality at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy in Jayapura, the capital of West Papua Province that borders with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea. Father Bunay previously worked closely with the popular and much-missed Father Tebay. Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, remained part of the former Dutch colony after the rest of Indonesia gained independence in 1945 but was annexed by Jakarta in 1963.

A United Nations supervised, but nonetheless rigged, vote on self determination in 1969 settled little. Amid a controversial internal migration scheme bringing in landless people from other parts of Indonesia, sporadic clashes and intermittent massacres have continued since.

In the early years, the independence movement was dominated by the Free Papua Movement, best known by its Indonesian acronym of OPM standing for Organisasi Papua Merdeka. There have been various new and splinter secessionist groups in West Papua and at some stages military-dominated nationalist governments in Jakarta directly accused prominent members of the Catholic Church in both Indonesia and PNG of supporting poorly armed Papua independence guerrillas. Internal divisions in the province have been exacerbated because there are 'Indonesianized' Papuans who support Jakarta's rule, akin to what happened in former East Timor, now the independent nation of Timor-Leste. The PPN, which is also known by the Indonesia acronym JDP (Jaringan Damai Papua), was established in 2010 to restart a stalled reconciliation process both locally and nationally. Father Bunay said that isolating Papuans from outsiders caused many people to see the situation only in terms of an independence struggle. Reconciliation, while attempting to overcome prejudices, should still allow ordinary people to speak of their suffering from decades of injustice and discrimination, the priest said.

Why reconciliation and how?

There is still sporadic violence.
For example, a conflict involving the people in central Nduga district started in December when Papuan gunmen shot dead construction workers, with reports of the death toll ranging between 17 and 31. There have been dozens more deaths on both sides since in this area and the number of internally displaced people has been estimated at more than 30,000.
Father Bunay, when stressing the need for enhanced reconciliation efforts, cited this strife as well as the killing in May by government security personnel of four people in south-western Asmat district during local election-related unrest. With most Papuans being Christians in a majority-Muslim nation, both the Catholic and Protestant churches have a role to play in striving for peace, including reconciliation with non-Papuans. Internal reconciliation could be followed by a next step of reconciling with the government, military and police, Father Bunay said. In this context, the military and police would be asked to explain why Papuans had been targeted for "torture or killing". "As a Catholic priest, my task is to bring peace and spread the Good News so that people live happily and love each other," he said.
Father Bunay said in the near future, his group was scheduled to meet President Joko Widodo to further discuss ways of advancing the Jakarta-Papua dialogue.

People’s support
Marta Bano, a mother from the northern coastal town of Abepura, said she agreed with the reconciliation process provided Papuan people benefit.
Meanwhile, some other Papuans are doubtful that divisions will be ended.
They cite problems in the implementation of 'special autonomy status' that saw the allocation of some US$5 billion in development funding by Jakarta between 2001 and 2017. James Modouw, an expert at the Education Ministry and also a member of PPN, said that training Papuans as 'peace facilitators', including religious leaders, teachers and students, would be a key to success.
Elga Sarapung, director of the Indonesian interfaith group called Dian Interfidei, said churches in Papua have become a last hope for peace.

Prolonged series of violence in Papua reinforces the demand for self-determination
Jubi 23 June 2019 By pr9c6tr3_juben

                                              Illustration of victims of violence in Papua. -Jubi/Dok

Jayapura, Jubi – Any forms of violence and human rights violations that continually occurred as well as the failure of the State to fulfil the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous have long been a root of self-determination among Papuans, stated Nicolaus Degey, a member of Religious Working Group of Papua’s People Assembly, in Jayapura on Monday (17/6/2019).

Further, he says many Papuans perceived that they continue to experience being murdered, directly or indirectly, through a series of violence and human rights violations, and poor public services, especially in health and education. “Papuans only want to live safely and peacefully. But, if there is no guarantee of it, they must think about a solution that gives them a guarantee,” said Degey. Moreover, he says that Papuans recently thought that any solutions offered by the central government in Jakarta, such as the expansions of provinces and regencies within Papua, have failed to materialise the fulfilment of the civil and political rights as well as the economic, social and cultural rights of Papuans. This failure has made Papuans believe that they require extreme solutions, including self-determination.

He continued to say that the torture, murder and human right violations have long occurred in Papua since the former President Soekarno announced Trikora (military operation) on 19 December 1961. Other military operations followed after that period (1965, 1977-78 in central highlands, 1984-85 in Paniai) resulting in another series of human rights violations.
After the period of military engagements, Papuans continue to experience another series of human rights violations, including through the military operation in Mapenduma in 1996, and other massacres in Biak (1998), Wasior (2001), Wamena (2003) and Paniai (2014). All these cases have never been solved and only raise new series of violence in Papua.

For example, on 2 December 2018, the West Papuan National Liberation Army under the Commander Egianus Kogoya attacked and killed the construction workers of Trans-Papua Road in Nduga Regency. As a response to this act, the Indonesia Government sent a joint military force to Nduga. The military operation has made thousands of civilians in Nduga Regency fled to neighbouring regencies to avoid the armed conflict between the joint military force and liberation army. Currently, the refugees of Nduga live with limitations and difficulties to get health and education services. Recently in April, the security forces involved in the shooting incidents with civilians in some regions. Six Papuans reportedly killed and five others injured. Degey said these series of violence, especially the impact of the joint military operation, have made Papuans living under threat.

In contrast, it also made Papuans becoming more resistance because they felt the treat over their life become so real. “Papuans must be more radical now (because of the joint military force operation) in Nduga,” he said. Therefore, Degey urges the State to realise that military operation that killed thousands of life does not solve the problem in Papua. The problem in Papua can only be solved if the government recognise the rights of life and freedom of Papuans. Therefore, Papuans and the Indonesian Government need to sit together in a forum of dialogue.

Meanwhile, a member of the Special Committee for Law and Human Rights of the Papua’s People Assembly, Sarah Ita Wahla, adds that the prolonged conflict of violence in Papua has taken the rights of life and freedom of Papuans. Indigenous Papuans, in particular women, have never been free to celebrate their lives as a free human being. She then takes an example of women in Nduga who had to flee to other regencies such as Lanny Jaya, Jayawijaya and Mimika to save the lives of their children. “When we visited the refugee camp, these women told us ‘please fight for our freedom’. That’s their message. But who would listen to them? Even us, here (as members of Papua’s People Assembly), no one wants to listen to us,” she said. (*) Reporter: Benny MawelEditor: Pipit Maizer

Vale Ferry Marisan. 
Condolonces to his family and friends. He passed away Saturday 6 July  in Abepura Hospital.  
Ferry was an activist  in the field of human rights and a former Director of Elsham Papua. He campaigned for the rights of indigenous Papuans. 

Opinion pieces/reports/press releases etc.

Long-Term External Security Threats from Indonesia’s Perspective – Part 2: Australia and ASEAN Stability

Untreated trauma in Nduga

West Papuan independence group says it is 'ready to take over country'

Papua conflict: Two wrongs don’t make a right

Previous AWPA update


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