Saturday, September 14, 2019

1) Spirit of a free Papua burns on

2) West Papua groups: Indonesian military is burning our villages

3) Gus Dur’s family meets with Papuans, urges tolerance with referendum calls
4)  The forgotten neighbour 

1) Spirit of a free Papua burns on
The remains of Jayapura’s Telkom centre, torched in the August 29 protests. Picture: Chandni Vasandani
In streets heavily secured by fresh contingents of Indonesian police and soldiers this week, those hit by recent violent protests and rioting in the provincial Papuan capital of Jayapura have begun rebuilding.
At intervals along the worst-affected stretches, signs erected by authorities on torched buildings read “VICTIM of riots, arson”.
Among those pitching in is Jamal, a motorcycle taxi rider whose family migrated from Sulawesi under a government prog­ram in the 1960s but who are still referred to locally as “settlers”.
“I am a victim too. They burned down my office,” he told The Weekend Australian this week on a police-sponsored trip to the province, where authorities were eager to point out damage caused by protesters but less keen for reporters to speak to locals.
Papuan students and other protesters have been carrying their own signs in recent weeks; ones with messages rejecting a state they say has long rejected them. “If we are monkeys, don’t force monkeys to fly the Red and White (Indonesian flag),” read one widely disseminated banner.
The protests across Indon­esia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua — first peaceful and then deadly — were triggered last month by an attack on a university dormitory in Surabaya by a mob shouting racist slurs, including “monkey”, at Papuan students accused of dis­respecting the Indonesian flag.
In the weeks since, Jayapura airport has been packed with students flooding back home amid an unprecedented wave of civil unrest that began as mass protests against endemic racism but has lent fresh momentum to the 58-year-old push for independence.
Indonesia has responded by shutting down the internet — though police have promised full restoration this weekend — and deploying 4000 more police.
At least six people have died in clashes between security and protesters — claims that it is higher are difficult to verify — and many more injured as the two sides have traded bullets and arrows.
Dozens have been arrested, including two high-profile activists this week, Buchtar Tabuni and Steven Itlay, accused of masterminding protests that have once again turned a spotlight on a dilemma­: the irresistible force of Papuan nationalism meets the immovable object of Indonesian nationalism.
Melbourne University’s Richard Chauvel says the protests show the racism so many Papuans have experienced has “in a sense been weaponised” by pro-independence protesters. “The Pap­uans studying with students from other provinces and living in the university towns of the Indon­esian heartland should be developing a greater identification as Indonesians, as well as a deeper knowledge of the many other cultures in Indonesia,” he wrote.
Instead, the experience had simply reinforced their Papuan identity.
President Joko Widodo, in a meeting with a Papuan delegation this week, promised to build a presidential palace in Jayapura and provide at least 1000 more Papuan jobs in state-owned enter­prises.
Activists want a fresh independence referendum to replace the 1969 Act of Free Choice, in which just 1025 Papuans chosen by the Indonesian military were allowed to vote. Papuan youth leader Samuel Tabuni said the Surabaya incident was “the straw that broke the camel’s back, and an accumul­ation of the insults” Papuans were subjected to daily in a country where they did not feel welcome but were not permitted to leave.
“We Papuans joined Indonesia in 1969 and until today we still hear those terms — monkey, blackie, darkie, ugly,” he said.
“Back in my university days in Jakarta, I would board an angkot (shared van) and people inside would cover their mouth and noses. That happened to our parents, it happened to my generation and it is happening still today.
“But it’s not just racism. We feel our political rights are not acknow­ledged by the Indonesian government, law enforcement does not protect us, many Pap­uans are getting killed and there is no investigation into that. How can we feel part of this country?”
Indonesia’s security minister Wiranto has accused Papuan activ­ists of stoking unrest to keep the independence struggle in the headlines ahead of this month’s UN General Assembly, when Vanuatu is expected to raise human rights abuses in Papua.
Benny Wenda, the London-based leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, does not deny he wants the UN to take up the cause but said attacks such as that which triggered the latest heavy-handed security crackdown were all too reliable.


2) West Papua groups: Indonesian military is burning our villages

Martin Vengadesan  |  Published:   |  Modified: 

The Indonesia military is carrying out acts of violence and terror against an innocent and unarmed population, say West Papuan activists.
In an alleged attempt to cover up its actions, Jakarta has expelled foreign journalists from its provinces of Papua and West Papua, continuing a long history of isolating the region from the outside world.
It also imposed an internet blackout on the region.
"To make things worse," a West Papuan activist told Malaysiakini, "Indonesian Special Forces counter-terrorism squad Densus 88 is spreading the lie that Papuans are being influenced by the Islamic State terrorists."

"Our motive is a referendum on Papuan independence and an end to the racist treatment of Papuans by Jakarta. The irony of them claiming Islamic extremist influence is that they have been trying to impose religion on our people," the activist said.
The activist also released photos which allegedly showed the Indonesian military pursuing a scorched-earth policy.
"They came and burned down houses in the villages of Gome district in Kabupaten Puncak in Papua," said the activist, adding that information was vague because of the restrictions.
"Please help us get our story out to the world."

According to Reuters, the Indonesian authorities have arrested 85 protesters, and at least four people are dead since unrest erupted on Aug 17.
The protests concern perceived racial and ethnic discrimination, spread over two weeks in a string of Papuan towns.
Some protesters have demanded a referendum on independence, something the government has ruled out.
Papua and West Papua provinces, the resource-rich western part of the island of New Guinea, were formerly a Dutch colony that was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised 1969 referendum backed by the United Nations.

Waving the flag of free Papua, protesters set fire to a local Parliament building and blocked streets in the provincial capital of Manokwari by burning tyres and tree branches, while larger protests took place in Jayapura.
They were protesting the mass detention of Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, for bending a flagpole bearing the Indonesian flag in front of a dormitory on Indonesia’s national day, which was celebrated on Aug 17.
On Sept 5, UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet urged Indonesian authorities to engage in dialogue with West Papuans about their aspirations.
Bachelet, a two-time president of Chile and one-time politial detainee who underwent torture during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, said she had been disturbed by reports of escalating violence.
On Sept 11, Radio New Zealand reported that thousands of Papua New Guineans marched through its capital Port Moresby in solidarity with their West Papuan neighbours.
The protests were led by two prominent PNG political leaders - the national capital governor, Powes Parkop, and Oro province's governor, Gary Juffa.
Parkop was quoted as saying PNG citizens considered West Papuans members of the same greater clan and feel their pain.
Also this week Human Rights Watch's Australia Director Elaine Pearson called on the Indonesian government to investigate the deaths in the West Papuan unrest, including a bloody clash in Deiyai regency.

3) Gus Dur’s family meets with Papuans, urges tolerance with referendum calls
CNN Indonesia – September 14, 2019
Jakarta – Around 20 Papuan students from the Javanese cities of Bandung, Malang and Yogyakarta have met with the family of former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid to discuss the current situation in Papua. The meeting was held at the residence of the late Gus Dur in Ciganjur, Jakarta, on Friday September 13.
The discussion – which began at 7 pm and ended at 9 pm – lasted for around two hours. Present at the meeting was Gus Dur’s widow Sinta Nuriyah Wahid and their two children, Alissa Wahid and Anita Wahid.
“We wanted (today) to hold a kind of friendly meeting, a joint discussion on the Papua situation. Reminiscing about Gus Dur’s ways of dealing with particular situations”, said one of the Papuan students, Agustinus Kamboya, who attended the meeting.
Kamboya said that the efforts made by the government to date have failed to address the root cause of the social problems in Papua. Moreover they have been focused on Papuan communities which are still found in ethnic tribal groups.
“This dialogue is good, only it didn’t address [the real problems]”, he said.

According to Gus Dur’s daughter Yenny Wahid, what is needed is dialogue which listens to the aspirations of the Papuan people themselves. This can also be done to find a solution to the current situation.
She is pushing for sincere dialogue to create a permanent and substantive solution to the problems in Papua.
Yenny also thinks that the public should not be too quick to react to Papuan people who are demanding independence through a referendum.
“Don’t be afraid if there are still those voicing a desire for independence, wanting a referendum, just follow the process”, Yenny told journalists after the meeting.
Yenny, a figure who also known as an activist, is asking the public and the government to listen more closely to and accept the presence of Papuans people in society. Moreover, she also believes that there is a need for Papuan faces to be represented in the Indonesian national culture.
According to Yenny, one small thing which could be done is presenting more Papuan people on the screen, such as staring in advertisements. This would be influential in making Papuan people become part of Indonesian culture.
“If their faces are not presented as representatives from their communities, how can they be able to think of themselves as part of society”, said Yenny.
In addition to this, the other thing that should be done is putting an end to the circle of violence in Papua and restore the situation in Papua to normal. “This is the thing that must be the priority”, she asserted. (mjo/eks)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Keluarga GusDur Temui Mahasiswa Papua Bahas Situasi Terkini”.]

4)  The forgotten neighbour 
Off the tip of north Queensland is a looming problem that Australia has long tried to avoid: a people suppressed. The region of West Papua receives little attention in Australia, partly because Indonesia blocks access to aid groups, foreign media and the United Nations. But Canberra, too, prefers this silence.
In recent weeks, however, the people of West Papua have shown that they don’t intend to be forgotten. Following an incident in which a group of Indonesian nationalists was filmed racially abusing Papuan students, Papuans have launched the largest independence protests in decades. 
Dozens of demonstrations have been held, some of which have resulted in deadly clashes with Indonesian forces. In Jayapura, the capital of Papua, protesters set fire to the parliament and police buildings. Indonesia blocked phone and internet access across the region and dispatched 6000 troops.
On Monday, it was reported that four Australians were being deported from Indonesia after participating in the protests. The arrests allowed Indonesian authorities to resort to their perennial claim about West Papua: that foreign forces, particularly those from Australia, are encouraging the province’s secession as a means to weaken and divide Indonesia. “We know these groups [of demonstrators] have relations with an international network,” said Indonesia’s national police chief, Tito Karnavian.
These paranoid claims are a reminder that Indonesia is an insecure archipelago, a country that consists of thousands of islands and hundreds of languages, and whose current national borders are an accident of postcolonial history. The concern among Indonesian military and political leaders is that Australia, having supported Timor-Leste’s independence (although for many years it did not), will now back West Papua, and that other countries will follow suit.
West Papua, whose people are Melanesian, has a distinctive history, and its status has never been settled. The reason to support its independence is not to destabilise Indonesia. It is to end an injustice. The region was not initially a part of Indonesia when the republic gained sovereignty in 1949, but remained under Dutch control. It was handed over to Jakarta by the United Nations in 1963, pending a vote by the province on independence. But the 1969 ballot was a sham, involving about 1000 voters handpicked by Indonesia from among a population of 800,000. Since then, Indonesia has conducted a number of brutal military crackdowns against West Papuan separatists. It deliberately moved non-Papuans into the area until the current president, Joko Widodo, ended this transmigration practice in 2015. The region now has a population of about 3.5 million, only half of whom are indigenous Papuans. It’s Indonesia’s poorest region, despite having one of the world’s most lucrative copper and gold mines – a key incentive for Jakarta to retain it.
Seeking to avoid damaging its relationship with Indonesia, Australia has rejected calls for a new West Papuan referendum. In 2006, Canberra recognised Indonesia’s territorial integrity in the Lombok Treaty, which explicitly opposed separatist movements. The Howard government had backed Timor-Leste’s independence, and now hoped the treaty would placate Jakarta.
Indeed, the Coalition and Labor, both of which have struggled to develop close ties with Jakarta, have dismissed calls for West Papuan independence as reckless. It’s been easy for both major parties to maintain this position because there is scant public discussion in Australia of the predicament in the region. But this could change, particularly if reporters are able to access information about Indonesian crackdowns, and if media outlets publish the stories. International support for a referendum could grow. And while this would not defuse Indonesian paranoia, it would help to protect Australia from being seen as the lead instigator in a push for independence. Currently, several Pacific nations support the West Papuan cause, as does British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is believed to be the only leader of a major Western political party to publicly do so.
In the meantime, Australia continues to ignore the injustice in the region, even as it occurs on its doorstep. “I’m honoured to be here to celebrate these achievements,” Scott Morrison told his Timorese counterpart during a visit to Dili last week, marking twenty years since Timor-Leste’s Australia-backed independence referendum. “Your nation forged through sacrifice is perhaps the greatest achievement of all … We are pleased to have been able to play the part that we have.”

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