Wednesday, April 22, 2020

1) Stop violence in Papua

2) West Papuan movement congratulates new Vanuatu govt
1) Stop violence in Papua
 Bramantya Basuki
 Jakarta   /   Wed, April 22, 2020   /   10:39 am
The recent shooting by security forces which killed two young Papuans, Eden Armando Bebari and Ronny Wandik, in Mimika regency on April 13, followed an escalation of security operations and the deployment of additional troops in Papua.

During the current outbreak of COVID-19, armed conflicts will only deepen Papuans’ fear for their wellbeing, and would seriously hamper the handling of the pandemic.

The Indonesian Military (TNI) troops who carried out the shooting argued that those two young Papuans were members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

But the victim’s family said they were just young men who had gone to a river to fish. Eden turned out to be a computer engineering student at the Multimedia Nusantara University in Tangerang, Banten, with no known affiliation to such pro-independence groups.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw said it was difficult for the authorities to distinguish between armed groups and civilians amid the armed conflict in Mimika.

To the victims’ families, he also promised to investigate the case. Previously, the escalation of violence between security forces and armed groups in Mimika regency also killed a New Zealand citizen last March. The security forces say the shooting in the area of PT Freeport Indonesia was carried out by the TPNPB.

The ongoing armed conflicts in Papua, especially in Mimika regency, are far from reaching a peaceful resolution. The government remains fixated on security operations and deploying additional armed forces to deal with the pro-independence groups. Data from the Lokataru Foundation show an increase of 3,982 Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and 700 TNI personnel in Papua between August and September 2019.
The continuation of armed conflicts is not only inappropriate for any efforts to stop the outbreaks but also dangerous for medical workers and the general public.


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, prolonging the armed conflict in areas with limited medical workers and minimal health facilities is a potentially lethal combination. When some patients in Papua were confirmed to have been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, specialists, personal protective equipment and health facilities were all lacking.

At the end of March, the spokesperson for the COVID-19 prevention and treatment unit in Papua said there were only seven pulmonary specialists and 60 ventilators in all of Papua; while government data as of April 16 showed 80 positive cases and six had died in Papua province.

The unresolved conflict will only add to the difficulties faced by local governments and medical staff in tackling the pandemic.

Therefore, efforts to stop the armed conflict in Papua must be an immediate priority for the government so all resources could be directed toward handling the outbreak. An appeal to end violent conflict during the pandemic was also conveyed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on March 23.

He emphasized the importance of creating a path for health assistance and peace dialogue in conflict areas currently affected by COVID-19. The continuation of armed conflicts is not only inappropriate for any efforts to stop the outbreaks but also dangerous for medical workers and the general public.

After the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Aceh, the Indonesian government was willing to open a peaceful dialogue in the conflict area, knowing that violence would only worsen the situation after a disaster that saw hundreds of thousands dead and missing.

The same approach should be implemented by the government to prioritize peace efforts over violence during this pandemic.

However, peace talks would still need to accommodate necessary investigations into human rights violations in Papua, which has witnessed too many unresolved cases of unlawful killings.
Independent researcher
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

2) West Papuan movement congratulates new Vanuatu govt
4:25 pm today  
West Papua's Independence movement has congratulated Vanuatu's new government on its parliamentary election.
The Vanua'aku Pati's Bob Loughman heads a new coalition government in Vanuatu after newly-elected MPs met for the first time following last month's general election.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua congratulated Mr Loughman, while paying tribute to Vanuatu's historically strong support for its cause in international fora.
It said it looked forward to continuing to work closely with Vanuatu's government to advance West Papua's campaign for independence from Indonesia.
Benny Wenda, the Movement's chairman, noted the Vanua'aku Pati's role in supporting de-colonisation in the Pacific region, and particularly Melanesia, since Vanuatu gained independence in 1980.
"The Vanua'aku Pati has been a champion of my people and our struggle for self-determination and independence from the beginning," Mr Wenda said in a statement.
"From the independence of Vanuatu in 1980 until today, you and your party has stood in solidarity with us, arm in arm with the people, churches and traditional leaders of Vanuatu.
"I and the ULMWP Executive look forward to working with you and your government on our historic anti-colonial struggle," Mr Wenda said to Mr Loughman.
Meanwhile, the movement also acknowledged the work of the leadership of Vanuatu's previous government, under former prime minister Charlot Salwai and Ralph Regenvanu who was foreign minister.
"It was a privilege to work with the previous Government and we recognise years of dedication and services of a very high standard," said Paula Makabori, an executive member of the Movement, and Director of the Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights.
"Vanuatu's great commitment to improve and advocate the human rights situation for West Papua is of great admirable and hope for my people to continue in their long journey toward Independence.
"The commitment of Vanuatu to make Melanesian countries free from colonialism as stated by the late Father Walter Lini still resonates strongly with my people and has become an expectation of all Melanesian people."

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