Wednesday, August 21, 2019

1) NKRI sans Papuans

2) Explained: what has led to the violent riots in Indonesia’s Papua?

3) Indonesia deploys troops to West Papua as protests spread


1) NKRI sans Papuans
Editorial Board The Jakarta Post
 Jakarta   /   Wed, August 21, 2019   /   09:06 am

A motorist passes by a banner which says “Residents of Candi district in Semarang refuse Papua’s separation from Indonesia. NKRI [the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is undisputed” in front of a dormitory for Papuan students in Semarang, Central Java. (JP/Suherdjoko)

The outbreak of violent protests in West Papua and Papua provinces over racial abuse against Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, on Monday should give this nation an impetus to revisit its yearning for the realization of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, or NKRI.
Nobody would expect the outrage to flare up in Papua, but the incidents clearly show that many things need to be done to remove barriers separating us from our brethren in the country’s easternmost territory.
It is just ironic that the chain of actions and reactions outside and inside Papua occurred just as Indonesia was commemorating 74 years of its birth as a nation and renewing its commitment to unity in diversity. Only last Friday President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo underlined the founding principle as the force that would help the country win the global competition.
The fury in Papua, which has been expressed in many ways, ranging from an arson attack on the West Papua Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) building in Manokwari and calls for a referendum to choose between exiting and remaining with Indonesia, looks to have dismantled all efforts to win Papuan people’s hearts and minds.
Jokowi, for one, has visited Papua more frequently than any other Indonesian president, built more airports and finalized the trans-Papua road, opening many outlying Papuan villages from isolation, ordered a single fuel price in the name of justice for Papua and taken over the Freeport gold mine. It turns out, however, that Jokowi’s initiatives, and those of his predecessors, are far from enough.
Jakarta, as well as many of us, has for decades perceived Papua’s integration into the republic, which followed the United Nations-sanctioned Act of Free Choice in 1969, as the incorporation of a territory called Netherlands New Guinea, along with its abundant natural resources, into Indonesia. It was Papua’s treasures, forest, minerals, oil and gas, that prompted Jakarta to fight it out in defense of the land in the first place. Unsurprisingly, Indonesia under the New Order regime resorted to a security approach to keep Papua an integral part of the country — an approach that strangely has been maintained by post-New Order governments.
The special autonomy awarded in 2001 does not change Papua as a territory that needs extra care in terms of security. The huge amount of special autonomy funds transferred to Papua and later West Papua has yet to significantly help Papuans escape from poverty. The two resource rich provinces remain the poorest and least developed in the country. Imagine what will happen when the transfer of special autonomy funds has to end in 2021 in accordance with the law.
Something, if not many things, has gone wrong with the way we deal with Papua. The history of Papua’s integration has missed its human element. The most recent case of racial abuse, not to mention the rampant atrocities against Papuans, only proves our defiance of them as fellow members of the Indonesian big family.
More than just money and infrastructure, respect and dignity are the reasons for Papuan people to live with the rest of Indonesia and make their dreams come true.

2) Explained: what has led to the violent riots in Indonesia’s Papua?

 Amy Chew    Published: 9:00am, 21 Aug, 2019
  • Riots broke out on Monday in the restive Papua region, where a separatist movement has simmered since the 1960s
  • While President Joko Widodo has sought to improve outcomes for the region, Indonesia’s long-standing racism against Papuans risks undermining his infrastructure plans, says Human Rights Watch
 resource-rich Papua region, home to the world’s largest gold mine, saw 
violent riots break out
 in several cities on August 19, following allegations of racist abuse and mistreatment of Papuan students on Java island.
The local government building of Manokwari, the provincial capital of West Papua province, was torched and reduced to ashes. In neighbouring Sorong city, home to about 220,000 people, more than 250 inmates escaped when a prison was set ablaze.
Large crowds also took to the streets of Jayapura, the capital of Papua province.

On Tuesday, the situation was calmer in some areas, but 200 more police officers had been sent to Sorong amid continued tension. Internet speeds were also lowered to “prevent hoaxes from spreading” in the region.
Papua is the western half of New Guinea island, and includes the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.
The former Dutch colony declared its independence in the early 1960s, but it was incorporated into 
 following a widely criticised UN-backed referendum.
The region is of economic significance to Indonesia. Papua’s largest gold mine, Grasberg Mine, is jointly owned by US firm Freeport McMoran and the Indonesian government. The region is also home to the large Tangguh natural gas field in West Papua.
A separatist movement has simmered since Indonesia’s annexation of Papua, where there are frequent complaints of rights abuses by Indonesian security forces. 
Joko Widodo
 has sought to ease tensions in the restive region with steps such as building the Trans Papua highway to spur economic activity and boost welfare.
What triggered the riots and what’s fuelling unhappiness in Papua?
The latest riots were triggered by the alleged mistreatment and racist verbal abuse of Papuan students in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, over an Indonesian flag that was found to have been damaged. 
Local media reported that angry mobs and police in riot gear descended on the dormitory of the students, who said they had no knowledge of the vandalised flag.
“The mobs shouted: ‘Monkey! Pig! Dog! Don’t you come out. We are waiting for you here’,” said Michael Himan, lawyer for the Alliance of Papua University Students.
Police shot tear gas into the building and arrested 43 students, The Jakarta Postreported. 

Protesters clash at West Papuan independence rally in Indonesia
“The security apparatus [and] public order officers closed the roads leading to the dormitory and arrested the students like they were terrorists,” said Himan.
The students were later released after questioning. They denied any knowledge of the damaged flag.
News of the raid, detention and racist taunts angered West Papua residents, who took to the streets on Monday.
“Most of them were provoked by content circulating in social media about the racial abuse of Papuan students in Surabaya,” national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said on Monday.
What is the separatist movement about?
There have been three main political movements seeking independence for West Papua – the Federal Republic of West Papua, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation and the National Parliament of West Papua.
Since 2014, the groups have united to form a single umbrella organisation called the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).
According to Andreas Harsono, a researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW) Indonesia, Papuans have long faced discrimination in Indonesia – a factor which has driven some young people to join rebel causes.
“Papuans are mostly seen (by non-Papuans) to be inferior, stinky, ignorant; often called ‘monyet’ (monkey), or ‘kera’ (ape), because of their dark skin and curly hair,” said Harsono, who has been covering Papua for three decades.
Racism against Papuans appear to have escalated since the formation of ULMWP, according to Harsono.
“The failures of the Indonesian government to address the problems will only enhance the resistance of Papuans to be Indonesians,” he said.

Will ongoing strife in Papua affect Widodo’s goals for Indonesia?
Widodo has paid careful attention to Papua province, visiting the region two to three times a year – more times than any other previous president.
He has implemented several infrastructure projects to boost the region’s economy, including the 4,330km Trans Papua road project, designed to improve connectivity for many isolated Papuan communities.
While the projects have benefited the region, Papuans view these approaches as benefiting Indonesians rather than the indigenous population, Harsono said.
Changes to the region’s demographics over the past few decades, resulting in dislocation and displacement of the local population, also undermined the government’s efforts to improve outcomes for Papuans, according to Harsono.
“Between 1971 and 2000, Indonesian settlers grew 10.8 per cent and indigenous Papuan grew 1.8 per cent,” said Harsono. “The region saw environmental degradation with mining operations and palm oil plantations. Deforestation became faster in post-Suharto Indonesia.”
Banking facilities and land rights were perceived by Papuans as consistently benefitting Indonesian settlers, he said, further marginalising ethnic Papuans.
Can the Papua problem be solved?
According to lawyer Himan, Papuans frequently face racist abuse in Indonesia, no matter where they live.
From Java to Bali, Papuans hear the word “monkey” hurled at them in malls, on public transport, “everywhere we go”, said Himan.
“The word ‘monkey’ is … a racist word full of political connotations, [which] shows Indonesia’s true character as a coloniser,” he said. “Papuans are human beings who have a limit to their patience and we need to be firm in dealing with racism to uphold our human dignity.”
Harsono, from HRW Indonesia, said Widodo’s efforts to bring prosperity to the region risked being “overwhelmed” by deep-rooted racism against Papuans, Harsono said.
“President Jokowi and other Indonesian leaders should educate the public that it’s not nice to refer to dark-skinned people as ‘monkey’ or ‘ape’,” he said.
“Papuans are Indonesian citizens. They should be treated as equal to the Javanese.”
Additional reporting by Reuters, Agence France-Presse

3) Indonesia deploys troops to West Papua as protests spread

At least 300 troops arrive in Manokwari as protests spread with reports of a prison break and airport attack in Sorong.

Jakarta, Indonesia - Indonesia has deployed more troops to West Papua as demonstrations calling for the region's independence spread.
Government buildings have been torched and reports of unrest belie earlier assurances by the government that the unrest had been contained.
President Joko Widodo's chief security minister, Wiranto, told reporters on Tuesday that Jakarta is deploying more forces to West Papua in anticipation of larger protests on Wednesday across the region.
Video obtained by Al Jazeera showed hundreds of military and police personnel arriving in Manokwari, capital of West Papua province and the scene of violent protests on Monday, while Major General Sisriadi, spokesman for Indonesia's armed forces, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday the military had sent 300 troops to Manokwari.
West Papua comprises the West Papua and Papua provinces and shares an island with Papua New Guinea.
It was a Dutch colony until the early 1960s when Indonesia took it over; becoming part of the country in a controversial 1969 referendum where only some 1,000 people were able to vote.
An armed rebellion by the indigenous West Papua National Liberation Army has been rumbling ever since.
The region is the poorest in Indonesia, in spite of its natural wealth, and there have been numerous allegations of human rights violations there.
In December, an attack by independence fighters killed at least 17 people and triggered a military crackdown that caused 35,000 civilians to flee their homes as security forces tried to flush rebels out of the mountains.
East Java, where Papuan students faced the mistreatment that set off the protests, is on the main Indonesian island of Java.

Protests continue in spite of calls for calm

Late on Monday, President Widodo had appealed for calm in West Papua, calling on his countrymen to "forgive" and observe more "patience".
East Java Provincial Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa also apologised to Papuan students who had been racially abused - reportedly being called "monkeys" - by bystanders and subsequently arrested during a pro-independence demonstration they were holding in the East Java city of Malang.
The anger resulting from the mistreatment of Papuan students is still burning across the region.
Images sent by a source to Al Jazeera on Wednesday showed Papuan protesters in Fakfak, West Papua province, raising their pro-independence flag, a crime under Indonesian law carrying a punishment of up to 15 years in prison.
Another image showed what appeared to be a fire in a coastal area of Fakfak, with reports saying the local market had been set on fire.
On Wednesday afternoon, reports said military and police reinforcements had arrived in Fakfak.
Meanwhile, in Timika, angry protesters took to the streets on Wednesday as soldiers in riot gear and carrying rifles looked on.
On Tuesday, angry protests had spread to at least six areas in West Papua, with reports of injuries.
A female protester was shot in the ankle in Manokwari, according to Victor Yeimo, spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (WPNC), which initiated and organised the protests.
In Sorong, West Papua province's largest city, protesters blocked roads and gathered in front of the mayor's office on Tuesday.

Local media reported that angry protesters destroyed Domine Eduard Osok Airport, forcing airlines to cancel flights to Sorong.
Protesters also set fire to the local prison, which allowed up to 250 prisoners to escape on Tuesday.
Another video obtained by Al Jazeera showed a group of men armed with sticks chasing and throwing rocks at police officers, who were outnumbered. In the video, one officer was seen falling and being hit.
A police officer told Al Jazeera that an officer in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, had been shot and injured.

Racial slurs, rights abuses

Monday's demonstrations in West Papua erupted following the arrest last week of ethnic Papuan students living in Surabaya and Malang in East Java.

In Surabaya, the students were accused of throwing the Indonesian flag into a sewer - allegations that they denied in an interview with Suara Papua.
According to local media, a number of mass organisations had gathered at the Papuan student's dormitory on Saturday - Indonesia's independence day - to confront them about the alleged defilement.
In the confrontation that ensued, racist abuse was hurled at the Papuan students, including the slurs "monkey, dog, animal and pig", according to a press release by Amnesty International. Security forces arrived, locking down the students' dormitory, firing tear gas and arresting the Papuan students.
The police force has said that all the students were returned to their dormitory later that evening and that no arrests had taken place, the students were simply removed for their own safety.
On Thursday, reports of injuries and arrests had circulated after a pro-independence rally held by Papuan students in Malang, East Java. The Amnesty press release recounted how the students were attacked by residents and, shortly after the incident, the deputy mayor of the city threatened to remove the students and return them forcibly to West Papua. 

'Under control'

Mario Christy Siregar, police chief of Sorong regency, told Al Jazeera there were no serious casualties.
"None [was injured]. [Everything is] under control," he said.
In an interview with Al Jazeera late on Tuesday, Indonesia's national police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo, said the police had observed maximum restraint and no protesters had been hurt.
"None of the police uses any bullet," he said.
In other parts of West Papua including Nabire, Biak, Bintuni Bay, Kaimana, and Yahukimo, the number of protesters swelled as they shouted: "Papua! Freedom! Papua! Freedom!" and "We are not red and white. We are morning star."
Red and white refers to the Indonesian flag, the morning star to the political symbol for pro-independence West Papuans.
West Papuans explained to Al Jazeera why they are joining the rallies, as protests enter their third day on Wednesday.
"The Papuan people continue to protest because they want independence ... We believe that only by getting the independence makes our self-esteem equal to other nations'," said Victor of the WPNC.
On Tuesday evening, Victor had appealed to the international community to monitor West Papua, "especially after the deployment of hundreds of military and police".
Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, expressed deep concern over the situation of Papuan students in Indonesia.
"Racism goes hand-in-hand with colonisation and repression. Like the black people of South Africa, fighting against apartheid, our struggle against racism is also a struggle for self-determination," he said in a statement released on Tuesday.
"President Widodo's words are not enough: Papuans will not stop fighting until we achieve equality, self-determination and a referendum on independence," added Benny, who is accused by some of being behind the protests.

Internet slowdown

As the unrest continues, the Indonesian government has slowed the internet in parts of West Papua.
Arnold Belau, chief editor of regional online news leader Suara Papua, said the internet in Jayapura has been off since Monday.

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara told Al Jazeera that the government applied a "throttling mechanism" to filter information and prevent the spread of rumours during the protest.
Rudiantara explained that throttling was only being applied in three areas - Jayapura, Manokwari and Sorong - between noon and 8pm.
"We need to do that not only due to the national security but also to avoid hoax from spreading to provoke (the masses)," he argued.
Throttling is an intentional slowing of the internet by service providers.
Rudiantara also teamed up with national police to examine postings on social media. Police said they found two social media accounts they believe provoked the riots in Manokwari.
The ministry's site published some of the alleged hoaxes they thought had contributed to stirring anger. One of these so-called hoaxes was a post by human rights lawyer Veronica Koman, who focuses on West Papua issues, on the arrest of two Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java.
The ministry came under fire after the public realised that Veronica's tweet had been misquoted, changing her use of the word "arrested" to "kidnapped". She is publicly seeking an apology from the ministry.
Veronica has said that the throttling measure is a violation of the West Papuan people's right to freedom of expression and access to information, rather than a measure to limit the spread of hoaxes.
With the internet blocked, people are only able to access television, meaning Jakarta can control the narrative, added Victor, the WPNC spokesperson.

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