Sunday, August 11, 2019

AWPA update -Summary of events in West Papua (7 July 12 August 2019)

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

AWPA update
Summary of events in West Papua  (7 July  12 August 2019)

Pacific Islands Forum 
The 50th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is being held from August 13-16 in the Republic of Tuvalu. 
Although Climate change is a priority at the forum the human rights violations in West Papua are also on the agenda. Johnny Blades reports in an interview  that Forum Foreign ministers met in Suva late last month, laying out the agenda for this month's Pacific leaders summit in Tuvalu and  the ministers' decision to set a deadline in relation to Papua reflects a shift in regional dynamics (RNZI 05 Aug 2019).
An excellent report also by Johnny Blades in the Interpreter (Lowy Institute) 
“Pacific islands stand ground on West Papua push” (7 August)  In a battle of wills in the region, Australia and Indonesia  now find the island nations have a measure of leverage.

It would appear that no Pacific Island country opposed the inclusion of West Papua as part of the agenda at the PIF, except Australia. AWPA wrote to PM Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne on the issue.

Pacific Islands Forum: Tuvalu children welcome leaders with a climate plea
 The Guardian 11 Aug Kate Lyons in Funafuti

Children from Tuvalu sit in a moat of water around a model island to illustrate the climate crisis as leaders arrive for the Pacific Islands Forum. Photograph: Kate Lyons/The Guardian

As the leaders of Pacific countries step off their planes at Funafuti airport this week for the Pacific Islands Forum, they are being met by the children of Tuvalu, who sit submerged in water, in a moat built around the model of an island, singing: “Save Tuvalu, save the world.” The welcome sets the tone for a Pacific Islands Forum meeting that will not only have climate change at the top of the agenda – as it has been for many years – but is being hosted by a country that the UN says is one of the most vulnerable to rising sea levels, which could render it uninhabitable in the coming century. Apart from the important symbolism, Tuvalu’s hosting of the event presents considerable logistical challenges for the nation, as more than a dozen world leaders and an estimated 600 people will descend upon the country with a population of just 11,000........
The West Papuan issue has received a lot of media coverage leading up to the PIF. Also in  the Guardian article
"Another key issue that may see Australia on opposing sides to its Pacific neighbours is that of human rights abuses in West Papua. A delegation from West Papua, including the Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda, was due to attend the forum as part of the Vanuatu government’s delegation, but as of Sunday afternoon the West Papuan group had not been able to arrive in Tuvalu, with both Sopoaga and Taylor saying they knew nothing about the delegation’s difficulties in reaching the country. Australia is strongly supportive of Indonesian sovereignty over Papua, while the independence movement has widespread support among several key Pacific island nations – particularly Melanesian neighbours Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands".
More on the PIF by Nic Maclellan (Islands Business Magazine) “Tuvalu prepares for Forum meeting”

Indonesia angered as West Papua independence raises its head at Pacific forum 
 From The Guardian 12 Aug 2019 
 A spokesman for the Indonesian government said Jakarta was “not at all happy” West Papua had been included on the formal agenda for the forum leaders’ meeting in Tuvalu, and warned the move would establish a precedent for interference in other countries’ domestic affairs.
“Developments in Papua and West Papua province are purely Indonesia’s internal affairs. No other country, organisation or individual has the right to interfere in them. We firmly oppose the intervention of Indonesia’s internal affairs in whatever form.” At a meeting of the region’s foreign ministers last month, Vanuatu successfully pushed to have the issue of West Papua formally included on the Pacific Islands Forum agenda, over the vociferous objections of Australia.
A spokesman for Australia’s foreign affairs department said: “Australia recognises Indonesia’s sovereignty over the Papua provinces, as stated in the Lombok Treaty of 2006. Australia will not support efforts that undermine Indonesian sovereignty over Papua in any forum and will not associate itself with any PIF communique to that effect.”

PNG governor wants West Papua referendum
RNZI 9 August 2019 
The governor of Papua New Guinea's capital district wants Indonesia to allow West Papua to undertake an independence referendum.
In a statement, Powes Parkop also backed a call from Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers to raise the issue of human rights abuses in Papua at next week's Forum leaders summit. Mr Parkop said the crisis in Papua had escalated due to Pacific nations letting fear of Indonesia dictate their approach to it. He said the Melanesian Spearhead Group should also accept an application for full membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
"Indonesia must realize that when it choose to restore the rights and dignity of the West Papuan people it will unleash great joy." Mr Parkop said he had delivered the same message on West Papua to PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare. According to him, he planned to also deliver it to the governments of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the US, adding that he had requested a meeting with Indonesia's government.
Jakarta says Papua's incorporation into the Indonesian is final and non-negotiable. Papuan Liberation Movement welcomes foreign ministers' call

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has welcomed a resolution by Pacific foreign ministers to push for a UN Human Rights office visit to Papua.
In January, the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Indonesia's government agreed in principle for a team from her office to visit Papua. However, Pacific Forum members are concerned that the invitation is not being honoured. Forum foreign ministers have called for the timing of the visit by to be finalised by both parties. They also seek for a resulting report on the Papua situation to be presented before the next Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in 2020. The Liberation Movement's chairman, Benny Wenda, urged Pacific Forum leaders to endorse this call when they meet for their annual summit in Tuvalu next week. Mr Wenda said such a stand reflected the values at the heart of the Blue Pacific campaign to develop a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity where all Pacific people can lead free healthy and productive lives. Accordnig to him, Pacific civil society networks continue to provide support to Forum Leaders and Government regarding the human rights issues of West Papua.

"The Nduga Solidarity Civil Society Coalition revealed that tens of thousands of civilians had taken refuge in at least 40 shelters outside of Nduga amid the ongoing security operations against the OPM-linked armed rebels, following the rebels’ alleged killing of dozens of construction workers in December. In a statement released Thursday, the coalition reported that 182 civilians living in shelters in a number of regencies, including in Wamena, Jayawijaya regency, died between December and July – allegedly from famine and poor living conditions – an increase from the previous reported number of 139 deaths.' (Jakarta Post)

Displaced residents refuse govt aid, demand military withdraw from Nduga
 Victor Mambor, Gisela Swaragita and Ardila Syakriah The Jakarta Post
Jayapura and Jakarta  Thu, August 1, 2019   

Students who fled from their homes in Nduga regency study at a makeshift school in Wamena regency on March 5.(Courtesy of Ence Geong/-)

Despite government efforts to distribute aid for civilians who escaped armed conflict in Nduga regency, Papua, some evacuees have refused assistance and are instead demanding the withdrawal of security troops from the conflict-ridden regency so that they can return home. As the security crackdown against armed rebels linked to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) continues in the region, thousands of civilians have fled their homes to seek refuge in shelters in Jayawijaya and Lanny Jaya regencies, living in uncertainty amid reportedly poor living conditions. Displaced people living in shelters in Weneroma, Jayawijaya, refused to accept aid provided by the Social Affairs Ministry after they reportedly learned that military and police personnel were involved in the distribution of basic needs and medical assistance.
Local figures said the refusal was linked to the civilians’ distrust in security personnel due to their trauma over past military operations that resulted in violence in the region.
Rev. Desmon Walilo, the coordinator of Sinode Kingmi in Jayawijaya, said local residents of Nduga still held the belief that if they accepted aid or food from the people they considered the “enemy”, their bodies would become weak and they would eventually die.
“The evacuees flee their homeland because of the joint security operation [against armed rebels] by the military and the police, so they will refuse any [distribution] of aid involving military and police personnel,” Walilo said.

He said that the decision to refuse help was made at the end of a meeting involving local figures and church leaders on Monday, after the evacuees learned that the coordination meeting to distribute the aid was conducted at the Jayawijaya Military Command headquarters.
Rev. Kone Kogoya, the head of the Mugi presbytery in Nduga, handed over a letter stating the evacuees refused to accept any assistance to Harry Hikmat, the Social Affairs Ministry’s director general of protection and social security, when his team arrived to distribute the aid.
In the letter, the evacuees demanded that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo withdraw military troops from Nduga and asked the government to pay more attention to the wellbeing of civilians who lived in shelters as result of the armed conflict. Harry acknowledged that the involvement of security personnel in distributing aid was met with resistance from the evacuees. However, he said that military and police personnel were involved because they had experience in the region. “We will still try to channel the aid while having discussions with local figures on the best way to ensure that supplies are distributed,” Harry said. “We need to understand each other so that the humanitarian mission can be optimally carried out.”

The ministry had channeled aid worth nearly Rp 3.7 billion (US$262,518) since January to the evacuees living in shelters in the form of staple food, cooking utensils, school supplies and toys for toddlers, among other things. Data collected by volunteers grouped under the Nduga Solidarity Civil Society Coalition revealed that tens of thousands of civilians had taken refuge in at least 40 shelters outside of Nduga amid the ongoing security operations against the OPM-linked armed rebels, following the rebels’ alleged killing of dozens of construction workers in December. In a statement released Thursday, the coalition reported that 182 civilians living in shelters in a number of regencies, including in Wamena, Jayawijaya regency, died between December and July – allegedly from famine and poor living conditions – an increase from the previous reported number of 139 deaths. Cendrawasih Military Command spokesman Lt. Col. Eko Daryanto said the military had yet to receive any updates regarding the death toll as reported by the coalition, saying that “there also might be differences in the perception or data regarding the cause of deaths” between different parties. Eko went on to rebuff concerns that the local people still felt trauma because of the military, saying that he believed the people felt safer with military personnel there to protect them against the threat of armed rebels.
“As of now, there have been no orders for the military to withdraw troops from Nduga,” Eko told The Jakarta Post. Harry also raised doubts over the accuracy of the data from the coalition, saying that it was not true that more than 130 civilians had died while living in the shelters.
Hipolitus Wangge, a researcher at Marthinus Academy who has been conducting fieldwork in Papua and member of the coalition, said that instead of simply denying the data, the ministry should be more active in the field to collect data on the displaced.
“If [officials] say the number [of deaths] we reported was baseless, then where is their data? Did they do their own data collecting?” he said. In response to the issue, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe called for the Papua Social Affairs Agency to thoroughly collect data on displaced persons, saying that such data was key to comprehensively handle the evacuees. (afr)

Soldier Killed in Separatist Attack on Papua Bridge Construction Site 
BY : ROBERT ISIDORUS Jakarta Globe JULY 21, 2019 
Jakarta. An Indonesian soldier was killed in a separatist attack on the Yuguru River Bridge construction project in Nduga district, Papua, on Saturday. The Indonesian Military (TNI) believes the gunmen acted under orders of Egianus Kogoya, leader of the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). "The incident occurred at 12.45 p.m. Eastern Indonesia Time while a member of the military was on lunch and prayer break; he was suddenly attacked by gunmen from bushes about 300 meters away," said Col. Muhammad Aidi, spokesman for the Cendrawasih Military Command. Aidi said there may have been four or five attackers. The military is tasked with protecting construction sites on the Trans-Papua Highway, following previous attacks on construction workers. "The other soldiers returned fire and chased after the attackers but ended the pursuit over security concerns and the inaccessibility of the terrain, which is covered in dense jungle, interspersed with many steep ravines," he said.
The soldier, identified as Pvt. Usman Hambelo, was wounded in the waist. He died about an hour later, before he could be evacuated by helicopter, which had been delayed by poor weather.

Indonesian soldiers arrested over arms sale to rebels
Three Indonesian soldiers in West Papua have been arrested on suspicion of selling arms to rebels. A spokesperson for Indonesia's military in Papua, Eko Daryanto, said the soldiers are thought to have sold ammunition to an armed group in Timika. The Jakarta Globe quoted him as saying they were identified by civilians arrested for illegally possessing the arms. Mr Daryanto said one of the three soldiers was on the run for about two weeks before his arrest on Sunday. He said one soldier could face the death penalty and the other two life imprisonment. An Indonesian court sentenced a Polish tourist to five years jailin May for plotting to sell arms to the West Papua Liberation Army (RNZI 9 August 2019) 

23 extra-judicial killings in West Papua last year - rights group
A human rights group advocating for West Papuans in Indonesia says there were more than 20 extra-judicial killings by the military there last year. But the military has dismissed the findings, which come during an escalating conflict in Papua's Highlands as rebels wage war on the state. The International Coalition for Papua has documented 23 killings it claimed happened at the hands of Indonesia's military in 2018. The recently-released list ranges from bullet wounds to being burned alive, mostly in the troubled Central Highlands.

The rights group is demanding Indonesia launch independent investigations into all the cases, warning more deaths have been reported this year. But a military spokesperson, Muhammad Aidi, said the report is a hoax and that some victims died from tribal violence. He said others were rebels who died in gunfights after launching attacks on soldiers. (RNZI 10 July 20190 

TNI anticipates security disturbances in Papua ahead of Aug 17
ANTARA News 10th August 2019

Chief of 1710 Mimika District Military Command Lt Col Pio L Nainggolan (center) (ANTARA News Papua/Evarianus Supar/RN)

Timika, Papua (ANTARA) - The Indonesian military (TNI) and Papua police will take necessary precautionary measures against security disturbances in the PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) mining area before Indonesia commemorates its 74th Independence Day anniversary on Aug 17. The precautionary measures were deemed necessary since according to the intelligence agency's reports, there is a possibility of the armed Papuan rebels likely launching an attack on that day, Chief of 1710 Mimika District Military Command Lt Col Pio L. Nainggolan stated here on Saturday. The areas under close monitoring of security personnel in their efforts to take precautionary measures against security disturbances would cover Tembagapura Sub-district in Mimika District and Mimika City and its outskirts, he noted.

To this end, the existing security posts will be strengthened, and the rebels' moves would be restricted, he noted, adding that the military and police will strive to ensure security to the local residents. "Hence, the local residents are urged to remain calm," he noted. The security personnel are acquainted with the routes that the rebels generally take in the areas of Tembagapura Sub-district, including the Ilaga-Aroanop-Banti and Ilaga-Jila-Tsinga-Grasberg routes.
Nainggolan remarked that the security apparatus will also adopt precautionary measures on new routes possibly taken by them to reach the areas of Tembagapura where the PTFI conducts exploration of ore containing copper, gold, and silver in the Grasberg minerals district. Speaking in connection with the possibility of Timika City and its outskirts also facing the threat of rebels, Nainggolan expressed optimism that they would not turn into a battleground for the rebel groups and Indonesian security personnel. Timika's areas have often been used by rebels as a place for obtaining logistics supplies, budget, and ammunition as well as transit points, he pointed out.

The Papuan armed separatists have repeatedly launched deadly attacks and killings over the past years. On December 2, 2018, for instance, a group of armed Papuan rebels had brutally killed 31 workers from PT Istaka Karya, who were engaged in construction and building the Trans Papua project in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak in Yigi Sub-District, Nduga District. The armed rebels, who launched the brutal killings, also killed a soldier named Handoko and injured two other security personnel: Sugeng and Wahyu.
Reporter: Evarianus Supar, Rahmad Nasuti Editor: Azizah Fitriyanti

PWI plan to invite foreign journalists to Papua may be ‘politicized’
Ivany Atina Arbi   The Jakarta Post Fri, August 9, 2019   
In a bid to give foreign media access to reporting about Papua, the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) has planned to bring several foreign journalists to the province, which has been marred by violence for years. With a full support of the government, the PWI is to show the foreign journalists that “nothing wrong is happening in Papua”. The plan, however, was criticized by human rights and media activists at home. They argued that the move might have been politicized, with the government using the PWI to strengthen its political agenda of expanding diplomatic relations with several Pacific countries. PWI chairman Atal Sembiring Depari previously said his organization was mulling over a plan to invite “Asia-Pacific journalists” to Papua during the celebration of National Press Day on Feb. 9, 2020 in the province’s capital, Jayapura. “We can use this opportunity to prove to the world that everything is alright in Papua,” Atal said after a meeting with Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Minister Wiranto on Aug.5. He added “outsiders” often accused the government of treating the country’s easternmost province poorly by committing various human rights violations and injustices. “That’s not factual,” he said.

Rights group Amnesty International Indonesia, however, begged to differ by revealing that human rights violations did happen in Papua, many of which allegedly involved security forces, as summarized in its 2018 report entitled “Don’t bother, just let him die: Killing with impunity in Papua”. At least 95 people were unlawfully killed in Papua from January 2010 to February 2018, with police officers and soldiers being the perpetrators, the report said. Among the casualties were people who staged peaceful rallies. Dozens of them had also died from the unlawful use of force in cases related to pro-independence issues. “The government must undertake serious efforts to address human rights violations in Papua. Therefore, the journalists will portray its positive attitudes and report them to the world,” Amnesty International Indonesia spokesperson Haeril Halim said, adding that both local and foreign journalists faced various issues -- from security to access -- while covering news in Papua. He revealed that several local journalists of Papuan ethnicity had even received discriminatory and repressive treatment from security officers while on the job. “I don’t know whether the PWI’s intention is to fight for press freedom in Papua or to further push Indonesian diplomacy in the Pacific region. I think it should prioritize [the former] to create full and unlimited access for both local and foreign journalists in Papua,” Haeril said.

The Foreign Ministry announced previously that Indonesia was moving to strengthen its regional ties with Pacific countries by establishing diplomatic relations with Niue and Cook Islands while pursuing trade deals with Fiji and Papua New Guinea. The chairwoman of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in the Asia-Pacific, Jane Worthington, supported the PWI’s initiative to bring in foreign journalists to Papua as an attempt to dismiss various accusation against the government, yet she did not think it could altogether solve coverage problems that journalists had there. Worthington, who had visited Papua some years ago, said there were several issues she faced when in Papua, including about safety, access and surveillance. “We had problems with being monitored, being followed and also there was some control of what I can cover,” she said. Worthington revealed that the process to gain permits for news coverage in Papua was “very long and drawn-out”. Some journalists consequently made the decision to go in using tourist visas because of the “onerous procedure”. “That space needs to be opened up. We need to advocate more about opening up [Papua] for journalists, not only Indonesian journalists going in but also international media,” she added.

The chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) in Papua, Lucky Ireeuw, said separately that the plan to facilitate the Asia-Pacific journalists to cover Papua was likely being “politicized by the government”. “It’s the duty of journalists to make a report based on the real facts they find in the field, including in Papua. They do not need to be asked, or mobilized by the security ministry,” Lucky said, adding that the AJI had long fought for press freedom in Papua both for local and foreign journalists. “We want free access to all areas in Papua, without being monitored and limited like our previous experiences. We want Papua to be reported objectively and based on its real condition.”

Palm oil company found guilty of rainforest destruction and rights abuses in Papua(RNZI 24 July 2019) 
Major palm oil producer Korindo has been found guilty of rainforest destruction and human rights abuses in the Indonesian province of Papua by the Forest Stewardship Council. However, environmental group Mighty Earth said despite the guilty verdict and the "greenwashing" of their activities, the Council is not yet completely cutting its ties with the Korean-Indonesian logging and palm oil conglomerate. Senior Campaign Director, Deborah Lapidus, said it's ironic the notoriously destructive company has held certification for responsible forest management……….
The company disputes claims made about its Papua operation

Renowned West Papuan rights activist dies

Ferry Marisan Photo: Whens Tebay

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. (RNZ 9 July 2019)

Opinion pieces/media releases/reports etc.

West Papua’s Quest for Independence 

Competing Papuan identities

Battle of numbers in Papua highlands

Indonesia is a cancer on the humanity of the Pacific 

West Papuan Independence And The Australian Perspective

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