Wednesday, July 22, 2020

1) Photos: In southern Papua, navigating an alien world built on palm oil

2) Indonesian military denies shooting civillians in Papua
3) ULMWP Chair: New killings in Nduga show independence only solution in West Papua
4) Mahfud Md to Papua Task Force: Do Not Get Provoked 

1) Photos: In southern Papua, navigating an alien world built on palm oil

Mongabay Series: Indonesian Forests, Indonesian Palm Oil

  • In June 2019, photographer Albertus Vembrianto spent three weeks on assignment in the southern lowlands of Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province, for Mongabay and The Gecko Project. He traveled through the villages of Indigenous Papuans whose land had been taken over by palm oil conglomerates.
  • A decade ago, the Indonesian government promoted investment by plantation firms in this region with a vision of turning it into a major agribusiness hub. Today, Indonesia is the world’s top producer of palm oil, but many Papuans have lost their land and are struggling to acclimatize to a very new world, with their traditional food sources dwindling.
  • Albertus’s photos were featured in an investigation into the operations of one of the these companies, the Korindo Group, recently published by The Gecko Project and Mongabay in collaboration with the Korean Center for Investigative Journalism-Newstapa and 101 East, Al Jazeera’s Asia-Pacific current affairs program.
  • In this photo essay, Albertus, who is Indonesian, writes about his experience reporting in Papua.
This article was co-published with The Gecko Project.
Paskalina called to me by waving her hand and asked me to come to her house in a whisper.
It was my third day staying at the family bivouac of an Auyu tribal chief in Boven Digoel, a heavily forested district in southern Papua. Indigenous Papuans like Paskalina usually stay in these temporary shelters when hunting in the forest and harvesting sago, their staple starch that grows wild in groves. In the past four years, however, the area around this bivouac had been converted into an oil palm plantation.
Paskalina, who was 38, didn’t want her story to offend the chief of the clan, one of the traditional elders, who had decided to sell the forest to a palm oil company. But for the past year, after the forest was cleared, she had often felt dizzy and taken vitamins. “The doctor said I am stressed,” she told me. “I have to take medicine.”
Paskalina never knew when, exactly, the forest had been sold. Women are not involved in such decisions. She only knows when it was demolished and replaced with a sea of oil palms.
To make a living, Paskalina sells products that she grows in her garden. To get to the market, she has to take the dirt road through an oil palm plantation, the hot sun blazing now the forest is gone. Sometimes her child takes her by motorcycle, but more often she walks. The trip takes her two hours each way.
The journey brings to mind her parents and ancestors. “I sometimes cry on the road, feeling guilty to my parents and ancestors for not being able to protect the forest,” she said.
Paskalina’s experience was similar to that of most Indigenous Papuan women I met during my three weeks in the oil palm lands of Boven Digoel and neighboring Merauke district. Without their forest, these women have suffered.
In another village, Angela, 29, was working as a laborer harvesting palm fruits with her husband. His wages were not enough to cover their household needs, so she worked on top of her domestic roles at home.
The Papuans here once held sway over the land, but now toil on it as laborers. Often they take on debt to buy food from the company, with the money deducted from their wages. That often leaves them without enough money to cover their basic necessities for the month.
The loss of the forest has made their traditional food sources disappear. The companies bring in food that comes from factories, through the city. They are slowly getting used to the instant pattern of manufactured food. Some people told me that food from the city is the best food. But they never know what the ingredients are. Some of the children whose family land was turned into plantations suffer from malnutrition.
These photos were chosen to tell the experience of Indigenous Papuan women who are now living according to new customs; customs that came with the oil palm companies. Their lives are more vulnerable, and they have little choice…………………………….


2) Indonesian military denies shooting civillians in Papua
3:43 pm on 22 July 2020 

Indonesian security forces have denied that two local West Papuans they killed late last week were innocent civilians.

The bodies of Elias Karunggu and Seru Karunggu were recovered later by the military with the assistance of the locals Photo: Supplied

The men were shot dead by the military who say they were part of an armed criminal group that's been attacking them.
The two men, Elias Karunggu and Seru Karunggu, were part of a community displaced by ongoing conflict in recent months between Indonesia's military and the pro-independence West Papua Liberation Army in the region.
The Liberation Army said the pair were shot dead by Indonesia's military forces without provocation as the displaced community was on the move towards Nduga's capital Keneyam.
The following day hundreds of people gathered in Keneyam and demanded the bodies be handed over to their families.
Indonesia's military told relatives of the men that the pair had been armed and were shot as part of a gunfire exchange.
This has been backed up by Regent Yairus Gwijangge who said the Indonesian military were wrongly blamed for shooting innocent people in local media reports.
Meanwhile, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua condemned the killings.
Its chairman Benny Wenda said Indonesian military operations in Papua must stop immediately.
"I'm calling for the Indonesian president to immediately withdraw all troops from West Papua and allow ordinary people, who have been internally displaced in their own land, to resettle in their villages peacefully," Mr Wenda said.
It's estimated that over 45,000 people have been displaced in Nduga due to the conflict since December 2018.
The Liberation Army alleged that Indonesia's military kidnapped the pair and tortured them before killing them and dumping their bodies in nearby forest.
The bodies were recovered later by the military with the assistance of the locals.
But an Indonesian military spokesman, Colonel Czi Gusti Nyoman said the death of the pair was carried out by soldiers in a Task Force Team as part of a deterrence operation.
He said the two Papuans were found to be carrying a gun, machetes and axes.
3) ULMWP Chair: New killings in Nduga show independence only solution in West Papua
Published 1 day ago on 21 July 2020 By Admin1
Jubi, Papua – Two more unarmed West Papuan civilians have been killed by the Indonesian military in the Nduga Regency. As the 2001 Special Autonomy law expires this year, this is yet more evidence of Jakarta’s genocidal intent in West Papua. There can be only one solution this year: a referendum and independence for my people.
Elias Karunggu (40) and Seru Karunggu (20), father and son, were shot dead in cold blood on Saturday July 18. They had already been displaced from their homes for months due to the brutal Indonesian military operations that have been ongoing in Nduga since December 2018.
“We had hoped that the Covid-19 situation would make the Indonesian police and military stop their murderous repression and concentrate on the medical crisis spreading across the world. Instead, Jakarta has only used the crisis as a cover for its war against the existence of Melanesian West Papuans. Last month even more troops were deployed to West Papua – for what? There is only one purpose in such militarisation: ethnic cleansing and genocide. Over 45,000 people have been displaced in Nduga since December 2018,” said ULMWP Chair, Benny Wenda.
These military operations must stop immediately. I’m calling for the Indonesian president to immediately withdraw all troops from West Papua and allow ordinary people, who have been internally displaced in their own land, to resettle in their villages peacefully. The hospitals and schools are still not functioning, and women, men and children are still displaced. This is a double crisis for the people of Nduga: a humanitarian crisis caused by the Indonesian military, and a Covid-19 crisis made worse by the colonial destruction of health care and our way of life.

“I’m calling on all my people to unite. Collectively, whether you are a civil servant, ordinary West Papuan, or Indonesian born in West Papua, everyone must unite to refuse the new autonomy law and to hold a referendum. Today, you are choosing your destiny and the destiny of the generations to come. Indonesia is clearly trying to systematically wipe out the population, and as last year showed, racism and discrimination are embedded within Indonesia’s colonial project. We must unite and act now. This is my call,” he said.
To the whole world, particularly the governments of the Melanesian countries, the Pacific Islands Forum, EU, and the United Nations: don’t support a new autonomy law in West Papua. If you do, you are indirectly or directly supporting the Indonesian government’s murder of my people, as happened to Elias Karunggu and Seru Karunggu on Saturday. “We don’t want to suffer the same fate as the Indigenous people of Australia and North America. We don’t want our environment to be irreversible destroyed and polluted by the Indonesian occupation. You must all support our cry for freedom, before it is too late.”
To our solidarity groups across the world, please continue to support us. People across Indonesia are beginning to wake up and support my people as Black Lives Matter movement becomes Papuan Lives Matter. We need everyone’s solidarity, concern and support now.
“Indonesia, there is no other solution to this 57-year-old problem. We will not give up until we win a referendum on independence. Every Papuan murdered by the Indonesian military only makes us more determined, and gives us more strength.” (*)
Source: ULMWP

4) Mahfud Md to Papua Task Force: Do Not Get Provoked 
Translator: Dewi Elvia Muthiariny   
Editor: Laila Afifa 
22 July 2020 20:58 WIBTEMPO.CO
Jakarta - The Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal, and Security Mahfud Md held a meeting with the task force of the Indonesian Military (TNI), National Police, and the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) during his working visit to Timika, Papua, on Wednesday, July 22.
Mahfud appreciated the performance of the team in maintaining the security, order, and unity of the Republic of Indonesia. However, he asked them to prioritize the legal approach, and not lose temper at provocations issued by various parties.
“I know that your work is hard, but I suggest to act cautiously, don't be incited into taking actions that violate human rights. Let us protect this country wholeheartedly, and not be provoked by other parties,” said Mahfud in a written statement on Wednesday.
He acknowledged that the current tasks of the TNI and Polri would be tougher as they also have to focus on handling the COVID-19 pandemic, including in Papua.

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