Papuans plan to boycott Indonesian elections, say independence activists

Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua spokesperson Surya Anta (centre) speaking at LBH Jakarta last week. Image: CNN Indonesia

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

West Papuan people will not take part in Indonesia’s 2019 presidential and legislative elections, say the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP).

This is because they accuse the Indonesian government of illegal political practices in Papua, of failing to uphold the rights of the Papuan people and because both presidential candidates have a bad track record on Papua.

“Indonesia is a state which since the declaration of the Trikora operation on December 19, 1961, has conducted illegal political activities in the territory”, said FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) offices in Central Jakarta last week.

READ MORE: Surprise at no mention of Papua in presidential hopefuls’ speeches

“Because of this we are taking a position and declaring that we will not take part in the 2019 presidential or legislative elections,” he said.

Anta explained that what they mean by the territory of West Papua was an area extending from Numbai to Merauke, Raja Ampat to Baliem and Biak Island to Adi Island.

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The groups also believe that the contestants in the 2019 election on April 17 are the same as those in previous elections where candidates are only interested in gathering votes from the Papuan people.

However, there has been no effort by the legislative, presidential or vice-presidential candidates to uphold the rights of the West Papuan people, they say.

Maintaining colonialism
Speaking in the same vein, Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan) national collective secretary-general Samsi Mahmud said that the Papuan people were not interested in the 2019 elections.

Aside from Indonesia’s illegal political activities, according to Mahmud none of the political parties are articulating the wishes of the Papuan people and the elections are only aimed at maintaining the practice of colonialism.

“[The elections] are a tool for the colonial government to put local power holders in place to safeguard their interests”, said Mahmud.

AMP member Erepul Sama said there was no difference between the two presidential candidates, incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, particularly in their handling of human rights violations.

“Prabowo himself has a bad track record in Papua such as the Mapenduma incident. But this doesn’t mean that Jokowi is any better”, said Sama.

“Jokowi has allowed human rights violations to occur again and again, for example in the bloody Paniai case which has still not been resolved”, he added.

Aside from declaring that they will not take part in the 2019 elections, the FRP-WP and the AMP made three other demands:

  • West Papuans be given the right to self-determination,
  • All organic and non-organic troops be withdrawn from Papua, and
  • Journalists be given free access to Papua.

Background
Operation Trikora was declared by Indonesian founding President Sukarno in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 19, 1961.

It was an Indonesian military operation aimed at harassing and forcing the Dutch out of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 rather than one intended to suppress a nascent independence movement.

The Mapenduma operation was a botched rescue operation in the remote Mapenduma area of West Papua led by then Kopassus commander Prabowo Subianto in 1996 to secure the release of World Wildlife Fund researches taken hostage by the Free Papua Movement.

The attempt ended in a military attack on Geselema village resulting in the death of up to eight civilians.

On December 8, 2014, barely two months after Widodo was sworn in as president, five students were killed and 17 others seriously injured when police and military opened fire on a group of protesters and local residents in the town of Enarotali, Paniai regency.

Shortly after the incident, Widodo personally pledged to resolve the case but four years into his presidency no one has been held accountable for the shootings.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indo-Left News Service. The original title of the article was “Golput, Aktivis West Papua Tuding Jokowi Prabowo Sama Saja”.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

West Papua film exposes plight of ‘ignored’ local journalists

By RNZ Pacific

A short documentary which highlights the risks of being a journalist in Indonesian-ruled Papua region (West Papua) has won an international film award.

Aprila, directed by Rohan Radheya, took out the best short film award at the 16th Pacific FIFO Documentary Film Festival in French Polynesia.

The Dutch journalist and film-maker’s documentary tells the story of a young local journalist who stopped doing her job after receiving death threats.

READ MORE: FIFO 2019 – the winners

According to FIFO’s website, audience members in Tahiti expressed interest in the insight the film offered into a region and freedom struggle largely unknown to the world.

Radheya said while international attention on Papua often focused on restrictions that Jakarta placed on access for foreign journalists, the plight of local journalists was ignored.

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“What we endure as foreign journalists is nothing compared to what local indigenous journalists in Papua are facing,” he said.

Papuan journalist turned novelist Aprila Waya, the main character in the documentary, said on Facebook: “This is a new thing for me where the process of making this film (more than three years) has taken more energy than writing a novel.

“Anyway, this is not my victory – it’s the victory of all the Papua people.”

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

#journalismisnotacrime

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Don’t be afraid’ – give Bougainville, West Papua freedom, says Parkop

Port Moresby’s Governor Powes Parkop with the West Papuan Morning Star flag … strong backing for Bougainville and West Papuan self-determination and independence. Image: Filbert Simeon

By Clifford Faiparik in Port Moresby

National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop is pushing for Bougainville and West Papua to gain independence from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia respectively.

Parkop said this in no uncertain terms during a West Papua forum in Port Moresby yesterday.

Northern Governor Gary Juffa, who was also present, expressed similar sentiments.

READ MORE: Campaign for West Papuan independence

“The government must give political independence to Bougainville,” Parkop said. “Likewise, the Indonesian government should also give political independence to the West Papua provinces.

“Both of these people have struggled bitterly for independence for a long time, resulting in widespread deaths. The governments of both countries should not deny these respective people’s rights.”

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Parkop said Bougainvilleans would be given the opportunity to determine whether they wanted to remain as part of PNG, or go separate.

“We are not afraid and I’m not afraid,” he said. “If Bougainville chooses independence, they will not move the island of Bougainville to Europe or another place in the world.

‘Still be there’
“They will still be there. We are all inter-married now. There are family and tribal relationships been bonded already.

“We might have a better future because if you look at the history of PNG, because of Bougainville, we were political and economically shaped.”

Parkop said the same message must be told to Indonesia.

“Indonesia must know that if West Papua becomes independent, they will not move the land to the United States,” he said.

“They will still stay there. The people speak Bahasa. Intermarriages have already been forged and established with people from other parts of Indonesia.

“Economically, they can be integrated. Socially, they can still move around in Indonesia. I don’t think the West Papua freedom movement will remove Indonesian investments.

The Indonesians must overcome their fear.”

Clifford Faiparik is a journalist with The National daily newspaper.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Time for US, Australia to change policy on West Papua or risk major setback

By Ben Bohane

Reports of the Indonesian military using white phosphorous munitions on West Papuan civilians last month are only the latest horror in a decades-old jungle war forgotten by the world. But new geopolitical maneuvering may soon change the balance of power here, prompting regional concern about an intensifying battle for this rich remote province of Indonesia.

It is time for the United States and Australia to change policy, complementing Pacific island diplomacy, or risk a major strategic setback at the crossroads of Asia and the Pacific.

Once again, Papuan highlanders have fled their villages into the bush where they are starving and being hunted by Indonesian security forces.

Fighting between OPM (Free Papua Movement) guerrillas and the Indonesian military has increased in recent months, creating a fresh humanitarian crisis in a region cut off from the world: Indonesia prevents all foreign media and NGOs from operating here.

This makes West Papua perhaps the only territory besides North Korea that is so inaccessible to the international community.

For years West Papuans have claimed that Jakarta has been building up its forces, including local militias, ready to unleash just as they did in East Timor before its bloody birth in 1999. Different to East Timor however, is the presence of jihadi groups too, something the OPM has warned about for some time.

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Alarming quote
Recent comments reported by Associated Press by Indonesia’s Security Minister General Wiranto, who oversaw the death and destruction during East Timor’s transition to independence in 1999, are alarming:

Earlier this week, security minister Wiranto, who uses one name, said there would be no compromise with an organization the government has labeled a criminal group.

“They are not a country, but a group of people who are heretical,” he said.”

Heretical?

This is significant – by using the word “heretical” rather than “treasonous” is Wiranto signalling a coming jihad against the West Papuans?

A low level insurgency waged by the OPM guerrillas has for decades sought independence for the mostly Christian, Melanesian population. Church groups and NGOs claim more than 300,000 Papuans have perished under Indonesian occupation since Indonesia formally annexed “Dutch New Guinea” via a UN referendum in 1969 known as the “Act of Free Choice”.

Farcical vote
It was the UN’s first decolonisation mission and it was a farce – the UN allowed a handpicked group of 1025 Papuans to vote from a population estimated at the time to be close to one million. Just in case they didn’t get the message, Indonesia’s Brig General Ali Murtopo flew in and warned:

“This is what will happen to anyone who votes against Indonesia. Their accursed tongues will be torn out. Their full mouths will be wrenched open. Upon them will fall the vengeance of the Indonesian people. I will myself shoot them on the spot.”

The UN’s own envoy overseeing the plebicite, Chakravarty Narasimihan, former UN Under secretary general in charge of the “Act of free Choice” said:

“It was just a whitewash. The mood at the United Nations was to get rid of this problem as quickly as possible. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that there were a million people there who had their fundamental human rights trampled. Suharto was a terrible dictator. How could anyone have seriously believed that all voters unanimously decided to join his regime? Unanimity like that is unknown in democracies.”

The fix was in and had US blessing; Washington arm-twisted Australia and Holland to back Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua, despite the position of both nations to have West Papua prepared for independence by 1970.

Australia would go on to deliver independence to the eastern half of New Guinea island, known as Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1975.

For decades Australia’s first line of defence was considered to be the rugged 800 km border that separates PNG from Indonesia. Long before the recent rise of China, Australia’s chief strategic concern was Indonesia, especially during times of direct conflict such as the Konfrontasi period of the 1960s and more recently when Australia led an international intervention force that secured East Timor’s independence in 1999.

Pushing east
Since the 1960s Indonesia has been pushing east, with then President Sukarno taking “West Irian” (West Papua) by force while at the same time calling PNG “East Irian” and Australia “South Irian”.

It remains one of the great “what ifs” of Australian strategic history – if Australia and Holland had ignored US pressure and continued to support West Papuan independence, it would have prevented the long running civil war there and may well have stopped Indonesia’s subsequent invasion of East Timor in 1975.

Instead, Australia reluctantly agreed to the US “New York Agreement” of 1962 and found itself being dragged into the US war in Vietnam.

It fought the wrong war.

In the decades since, Australia has sought to manage its often turbulent relationship with Indonesia, recognising its size and importance within southeast Asia, by studiously ignoring the ongoing “slow-genocide” happening in West Papua.

Not only has Australia never provided material support for its rebels or refugees, it continues to arm and train Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism unit Densus 88, which has been accused of “mission creep” in extending its operations to take out not just Islamic terrorists post 9/11, post Bali attacks, but Papuan nationalists too.

This has resulted in a lose-lose policy for Australia; after East Timor, no amount of Australian assurances of Indonesian sovereignty will ever convince Jakarta’s generals that Australia does not have designs on West Papua; at the same time Australia has lost much moral and strategic credibility among its Pacific island neighbours who all support West Papuan independence and question why their two big brothers in the Pacific – the US and Australia – continue to “throw the West Papuans to the wolves”.

But while they may have been able to ignore West Papua’s independence movement for decades, new geopolitical manouverings have emerged in the past year which signal a need to re-assess long running policy.

Social media explosion
The explosion of social media in recent years has taken this hidden war out of the shadows for good. Pacific diplomacy is isolating ANZUS policy and the West Papuan struggle will not remain a bow-and-arrow affair for much longer.

It is only a matter of time before China begins offering substantial material support and training – they are already in discussions with the West Papuan leadership. Nor are they the only player getting involved.

In December 2017, Russian Tu-95 nuclear bombers made sorties from bases on Biak island in West Papua probing the air space between Australia and Papua. It was the first time Russian nuclear bombers have operated in the South Pacific, prompting Australia to scramble fighter jets from RAAF Tindal for the first time in many years.

Jakarta has likely invited Russia to display a show of force as a warning to Australian and US forces stationed in Darwin – as well as China – lest they show any inclination to support West Papuan independence.

But can Jakarta trust Russia? Although there is considerable military co-operation between the two, Russia may have its own agenda in West Papua, recognising its resource wealth and strategic position due south of Vladivostok.

West Papuan leaders speak of Russia’s sense of having been betrayed by Indonesia in the 1960s. After Khrushchev met with Sukarno at their historic Bali summit in 1960, a time when Indonesia’s communist party the PKI was the third largest in the world, Moscow believed it had done a deal to become Indonesia’s partner in helping annex West Papua and thus gain access to the known mineral riches of West Papua, not to mention its strategic position as a gateway between Asia and the Pacific.

Instead, US President Kennedy was able to woo Sukarno (both were young, charismatic “ladies men” who hit it off together) sufficiently to broker a deal where the US would recognise Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua in an attempt to temper both Sukarno’s leftist leanings and the growing PKI.

Coup ‘re-orientation’
The deal signed in 1962 was called the New York Agreement and signalled America would not support Holland’s defence of an independent West Papua. By 1965 Kennedy was dead and Sukarno had been overthrown in a coup that led to a “re-orientation” of Indonesia.

Newly installed General Suharto purged Indonesia of communists and granted the first foreign mining licence to US company Freeport to establish a gold mine in the Puncak Jaya mountain range of West Papua, soon to become (and remain) the biggest gold mine in the world.

Russia was furious, but could do little then. China’s support for the PKI was also checked and Suharto’s 30 year dictatorship, backed by the US and allies, ensured both Russia and China lost their influence in Indonesia.

Today it is a different story.

While Russia influence in the Pacific is small but growing, Chinese influence has surged to become a major force in Pacific politics and security. Part of its engagement with Pacific island nations is to support those nations such as Vanuatu which back West Papuan independence in the face of Indonesian threats.

China’s relationship with Indonesia continues to deteriorate over issues such as rival claims in the South China Sea, nationwide demonstrations across Indonesia in support of persecuted Uighers in China, and concerns about the growing Islamification of Indonesia threatening the local Chinese (often Christian) communities.

Last year, the (Christian) Chinese Governor of Jakarta was hounded out of office by hardline Islamist groups accusing him of blasphemy.

Periodic pogroms
Indonesia’s Chinese community has long been subject to periodic pogroms (such as during the PKI crackdown in the 1960s and during the fall of Suharto in 1998) and as they watch the growing Islamification of Indonesia, they are all preparing Plan B exits, with Singapore, Malaysia and Australia top of their list.

In the past, Beijing could do little to protect the Chinese diaspora here, but today that has changed. West Papuan leaders suggest that China may have a plan to help liberate West Papua and thus provide a sanctuary for Indonesia’s persecuted Chinese community.

Were China to support West Papuan independence it would have the backing of the vast majority of Papuans and give China not just access to its huge mineral wealth, but also a strategic foothold in the south, south China Sea and a major gateway between the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

It would also win the kudos of many Pacific island nations who feel the US and Australia have not defended Pacific island interests all because of the avarice of one US company.

China is also taking note of the recent decision by neighbouring PNG to allow a major new military base on Manus island for US and Australian forces. Manus island, a naval base since WW2, would allow US and Australian naval and air force projection into the South China Sea and beyond, once again amplifying the strategic position of West Papua next door to thwart such allied projections if China got a foothold there.

China is also anticipating a Prabowo presidency in Indonesia this year, which they regard as a CIA asset, ironically backed by hardline Islamic groups, and who will be hostile to the Chinese community there. And not just hostile to China, but Australia and the Pacific too.

Australia has had a good run with amenable leaders such as SBY and Jokowi in recent years, but a Prabowo presidency would see a Duterte-like strongman likely to cause friction.

Reflexive stance
The answer in such circumstances is not to take a reflexive pro-Indonesia stance against Chinese moves, but to check both Indonesian and Chinese expansion by helping the Christian Melanesians of West Papua secure their freedom as part of the Pacific family.

Doing so is not just the right moral thing to do (correcting a previous injustice) but the right strategic thing to do: it prevents a Chinese foothold in the South Pacific, prevents Indonesian jihadis and territorial expansion east into the Pacific, secures an “air-sea gap” for Australia, properly secures a border between Muslim Asia and the Christian Pacific, and in so doing wins the admiration and loyalty of the rest of the Pacific island community precisely at a time when they are being aggressively courted by China.

This year Vanuatu, backed by dozens of countries in the ACP block (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) is expected to introduce a motion before the UN General Assembly calling for a proper referendum on independence for West Papua and its inclusion on the United Nations De-Colonisation list.

Unless this long-running struggle is resolved soon, West Papua may soon become a major battleground between Indonesian forces including jihadis and Papuan guerrillas backed by China.

US policy has long been guided by Freeport’s commercial interests (helped by such prominent board members as Henry Kissinger and ex-President Ford), but that now pales in comparison to the strategic calculus as China moves in.

Besides, Freeport is now losing its grip – in December it finally accepted a new deal with Jakarta losing its majority ownership of the mine and the Carstenz deposit. Freeport now has been reduced to 49 percent ownership.

Of course, China is playing both sides of the fence – guess who provided funds for Jakarta to increase its equity?

Right side of history
It is time for the US to get on the right side of history. It should go back to supporting Australia and Holland’s original policy – and the rest of the Pacific’s today – by supporting a process towards West Papuan independence to halt growing Islamic and Chinese influence in the Pacific.

As one West Papuan leader told me recently:

“We have suffered for decades. If the democratic west continues to ignore our struggle we have no choice but to look east for our liberation”.

Ben Bohane is a Vanuatu-based photojournalist covering the Pacific who has reported on West Papua for the past 25 years. He is the only foreigner to have been in the three most active Command areas of the OPM operating in West Papua. This article was first published in the Journal of Political Risk and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with the permission of the author.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Sincha Dimara: My mother, a West Papuan survivor of many hardships, spurred along by her faith

Dominguis and Dolfintje Dimara pictured on the day they were married. Image: #InspirationalPapuaNewGuineans

PROFILE: By Sincha Dimara in Port Moresby

I once asked my mother how was it that she married at the tender age of 16 and left home in West Papua for a foreign land – neighbouring Papua New Guinea – never to see family again for more than three decades.

She told me: “When your father left for work and I was left alone, it dawned on me that I may never see my family again.

“Silent tears flowed in those quiet moments, tanta (aunty) Wanma noticed. She asked me if papa was not nice to me. I shook my head, ‘no’… it was only after the birth of my first child, that my whole world changed.”

READ MORE: Inspirational Papua New Guineans

My mother, Dolfintje Imbab, was born on 4 December 1949, four years after World World Two ended. She was 70 last week (on 4 December 2018).

She was born somewhere on the banks of the Warfor River on Supiori Island, part of the Biak Islands in West Papua at a time when villagers had been forced to move inland to escape the horrors of war.

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She completed her primary education in 1960, in what was then a Dutch colony. She was not considered for further studies because most women back then were told to return home to assist the family male members of the family to continue their education.

This meant gardening, fishing and other daily chores to sustain the family.

Against Indonesian takeover
My father, Domingus Dimara (that’s a story on its own), came to Papua New Guinea as a young man in 1963. He was against Indonesia’s takeover of West Papua then and decided to make PNG home.

Family snapshots … Dominguis and Dolfintje Dimara. Right: Dolfintje Dimara and with their first child. Image:
#InspirationalPapuaNewGuineans

He returned in 1965 in search for a bride; my mother was chosen.

My late father was a disciplinarian and always believed in doing the right thing. Initially there was resistance from my maternal grandparents upon hearing that their daughter would marry and move far from home.

My maternal grandmother placed locally made bracelets (gelang biak) on both her arms. The bracelets identify a woman or man as a Biak person.

They were married in May 1965 in Biak town and after meeting legal and customary obligations they travelled to the capital Hollandia, now Jayapura. From there, they travelled by plane to Lae, then on to Port Moresby.

My parents lived with Om and Tanta Marjen (late Aunty and Uncle Marjen) who had earlier moved to Port Moresby after Indonesia gained control of West Papua.

My parents were also accommodated by the Wanma family. This was in the 1960s. One of mum’s early memories is witnessing the 1969 South Pacific Games in Port Moresby and the basketball matches played at the Hohola Courts.

New suburbs sprouted
A few years later when Port Moresby was beginning to expand and new suburbs sprouted, my father was able to secure a house from the National Housing Commission in 1970.

Dolfintje Imbab Dimara with her sister and grand niece in Jayapura. Image:
#InspirationalPapuaNewGuineans

In 1990, more than 30 years since her arrival in PNG, mum first crossed the border as a PNG citizen into Indonesian territory. She did so after communicating with family members through letters for more than 20 years.

Her father had passed on but her mother – my grandmother – was still alive then. She would meet family members again over the years.

In 1979, both of my parents were granted PNG citizenship along with other West Papuans. Among them were the Marjens, Sarwoms, Wanmas.

Sadly, my father passed on in 1994. My mother’s strength and love for the family has kept her going this far.

She lost three of her seven children. Edward our youngest died of heart failure in 1992. Robin was murdered by criminals in 1999 and my sister Salomina died of breast cancer in 2013.

Throughout all the hardships, I believe her faith in God has kept her going. She has mastered the Motu language, speaks a little English and Tok Pisin and made many friends in PNG.

She is also a survivor of breast cancer having gone through treatment in 2011. In a few weeks’ time she will travel home to visit her place of birth and meet her siblings again.

I jokingly asked if it was time to return for good. But I guess she’d rather spend time with the family she created – her children and grandchildren.

Sincha Dimara has been an #EMTV producer for 30 years. She is manager, news and current affairs of the television network in Papua New Guinea.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Human rights watchdog calls for police probe into ‘unclear’ Papua killings

Christmas spirit at a Human Rights Day rally in the Papuan capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Indonesian police should investigate a Papuan armed group’s killing of at least 17 people, including a soldier, at a construction area in Nduga in Papua’s densely forested Central Highlands earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said today.

The circumstances of the killings on December 2 remained unclear, said the watchdog.

Papuan militants should cease unlawful killings, and the Indonesian government should ensure that its security forces act in accordance with international standards and not commit abuses in response to the attack, said the watchdog.

READ MORE: Indonesia’s Papua media blacklist

“A Papua militant group’s attack on a worksite raises grave concerns that require a full investigation,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.

“Militants and responding security forces should not inflict harm on ordinary Papuans.”

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The West Papua National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat), the military wing of the Free Merdeka Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), claimed responsibility for the killings, saying those killed were military personnel from the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers.

An army colonel said that three of the survivors of the attack were military personnel working as engineers.

Indonesian police prepare to face peaceful Papuan protesters in the capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

‘Military engineers’
Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the Papuan armed group, told the media that the attacks were organised by the militant’s group’s third Ndugama Command.

He said they had monitored the workers for three months and concluded that they were engineering corps personnel wearing civilian clothes.

However, Indonesia’s public works minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, said that those killed were workers from state-owned companies PT Istaka Karya and PT Brantas Abipraya, sent from Sulawesi to work on the 4300 km Trans-Papua highway.

He said that only the soldiers protecting the workers were armed, including the one killed in the attack.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in reaction to the attacks he had “ordered the armed forces commander and the police chief to pursue and capture all the perpetrators of such rude and violent acts”.

Priests, seminarians and students take part in a peaceful Human Rights Day march in the capital Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

In West Papua, December 1 is widely commemorated as the day West Papua declared nationhood. In 1961, under Dutch rule, an elected council consisting mostly of indigenous Papuans commissioned the creation of a national anthem and flag.

On December 1, 1961, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was flown beside the Dutch tricolor for the first time.

Indonesia took control over Papua with United Nations recognition in 1969.

500 plus arrested
Over the last five decades, some Papuans have resisted Indonesian rule. On December 1, 2018, more than 500 students were arrested in more than 10 Indonesian cities after peacefully raising the Morning Star flag and demanding a referendum on independence.

Indonesia’s National Police initially announced that the killings in Nduga were in retribution for a worker taking photographs of Papuan militants organising a flag-raising ceremony near a road and bridge construction.

More than 100 military and police officers were evacuating the dead and injured, and engaged in a military operation against the militants.

Human Rights Watch has long documented human rights abuses in Papua’s Central Highlands, where the military and police have frequently engaged in deadly confrontation with armed groups.

Indonesian security forces have often committed abuses against the Papuan population, including arbitrary detention and torture. A lack of internal accountability within the security forces and a poorly functioning justice system mean that impunity for rights violators is the norm in Papua.

“The Indonesian security forces should exercise care when operating in Nduga, directing all security personnel to treat Papuans in accordance with international standards,” said the watchdog.

“They should transparently investigate and hold accountable anyone implicated in a criminal offence. Both the military and the police should allow journalists to operate independently in the area.”


A cartoonist’s depiction of Indonesian government restrictions on media freedom and rights monitoring in Papua. Cartoon: © 2015 Toni Malakian/Human Rights Watch

Remote access
Nduga is an extremely remote area where no journalists have had access since the attacks.

A decades-long official restriction on foreign media access to Papua and controls on Indonesian journalists there have fostered that lack of justice for serious abuses by Indonesian security forces and fueled resentment among Papuans.

“The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened,” Pearson said.

“Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

UN official defends West Papuan rights – free speech, peaceful assembly

UN’s OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani … “there are many West Papuan grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent.” Image: UN interview screenshot

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

West Papuan rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been defended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a response to the mass arrests of Papuan protesters during flag raising ceremonies earlier this month.

“These are indigenous people at the end of the day,” says spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

“So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefitted from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had.

LISTEN HERE: The full interview with OHCHR’s Ravina Shamdasani

“The rates of malnutrition are quite high.”

Shamdasani said in a radio interview with UN News that while President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had been initiating development projects, “the problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted.

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“There haven’t been meaningful consultations [with] the people who are actually affected by this.”

In the interview, Shamdasani put into context the recent arrests of nearly 600 citizens who were detained for participating in West Papua’s national day, December 1, a global event for commemorating the first raising the Morning Star flag – banned by Indonesian authorities.

She also answered questions about development, armed conflict, and trying to gain access to the region.

Behind the West Papuan protests
The UN interview transcript:

[UN NEWS] The mass arrest of demonstrators in Indonesia who were attempting to mark a national day for indigenous people in the east of the archipelago, has been condemned by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

More than 500 activists were detained at the start of the month – though they’ve since been released.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani explained to UN News’ Daniel Johnson what’s behind these latest developments.

Ravina Shamdasani (RS): Last weekend there were peaceful protesters in the Papuan region of Indonesia who were celebrating what they call the “West Papua National Day,” and some 500 of them were arrested, detained. They were all subsequently released within 24 to 48 hours, but this does not take away from the fact that they should not have been arrested in the first place, and that this is not the first time this has happened.

It happens year after year and on several occasions during the year as well.

Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva (UN): What exactly are they protesting for apart from the fact that it’s their national day?

RS: Quite often these protests are protests for independence from Indonesia and of course we understand that the situation is complex. The Indonesian government is certainly not happy with these protests, but these people have their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. So there was really no reason to arbitrarily detain them.

UN: As a minority what particular rights are they trying to defend and what are they trying to say is being threatened?

RS: Well, these are indigenous people at the end of the day. So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefited from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had. The rates of malnutrition are quite high. Now the current president of Indonesia has been initiating development projects. The problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted. There haven’t been meaningful consultations of the people who are actually affected by this.

UN: Why is that? What structures are there in Papua, in Indonesia, to do this or not?

RS:The president has his analysis that the problem is one of economic development, um so he is trying to tackle that. But what we have emphasised, and what our previous High Commissioner during a visit to Jakarta in February of this year emphasised, was that development can of course bring with it access to many fundamental goods and services that can vastly improve people’s well beings, but if they cannot voice their concerns, and if they can’t participate in these decisions, the resulting development may not really increase their welfare, because it doesn’t really address the problems that they have.

UN: Ok, and what is your presence on the ground in this part of Indonesia given that it’s a huge country archipelago?

RS: We do not have a presence in Indonesia but we have a regional office in Bangkok that covers Southeast Asia – So we are, you know, in close contact with human rights defenders, civil society, government officials as well.

We have actually been seeking access to this region for quite awhile now. In February the High Commissioner was promised access, and we are still in discussions with the government of Indonesia to make that happen.

UN: This issue is not one that I’ve seen very often having been here what four years now. What’s your hope for the follow up and how many other similar cases are there that go really beneath the radar of international mainstream media?

RS: Too many international mainstream media tend to focus on the big conflicts. However there are many places like Papua, which are quite small, which have historic kind of long standing structural issues and unfortunately may not come up to the radar until there is an outbreak of conflict

What our office tries to do is try to ring the alarm bells early on, before the situation rises to the level of an armed conflict.

UN: You’re not suggesting it’s at that level now? Of course.

RS: No we’re not suggesting it’s at that level now, but there are many grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent. And then people take the law into their own hands because they feel they are not being heard.

This is actually happening at a very low level in Papua at the moment. There are armed groups that are operating. In fact, just this week I believe a number of people were killed. These were government contractors who were there doing a development project.

They were killed by armed groups which of course is unacceptable, but you have to understand the root causes and you have to address the root causes.

UN Office of Human Rights defends Papuans right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nationalist thugs attack Papuan pro-independence rally in Surabaya

By Tony Firman of Tirto in Surabaya

A protest action by the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) in Indonesia’s East Java provincial capital of Surabaya yesterday demanding self-determination for West Papua has been attacked by a group of ormas (social or mass organisations).

Police later raided Papuan student dormitories in the evening and detained 233 students in a day of human rights violations as Indonesian authorities cracked down on demonstrations marking December 1 – “independence day”, according to protesters.

The group, who came from a number of different ormas, including the Community Forum for Sons and Daughters of the Police and Armed Forces (FKPPI), the Association of Sons and Daughters of Army Families (Hipakad) and the Pancasila Youth (PP), were calling for the Papuan student demonstration to be forcibly broken up.

READ MORE: Surabaya counterprotest, 300 arrested in West Papua flag demonstrations

“This city is a city of [national] heroes. Please leave, the [state ideology of] Pancasila is non-negotiable, the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is non-negotiable”, shouted one of the speakers from the PP.

At 8.33am, a number of PP members on the eastern side of Jl. Pemuda began attacking the AMP by throwing rocks and beating them with clubs. Police quickly moved in to block the PP members then dragged them back.

-Partners-

The AMP protesters had began gathering at the Submarine Monument at 6am before moving off to the Grahadi building where the East Java governor’s office is located.

However they were only able to get as far as the Surabaya Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) building before they were intercepted by police from the Surabaya metropolitan district police (Polrestabes) and the East Java district police (Polda).

‘Independence’ day
The AMP demonstration was held to mark December 1, 1961, as the day West Papua became “independent” from the Dutch. For the Papuan people, December 1 is an important date on the calendar in the Papuan struggle which is commemorated every year.

The historical moment in 1961 was when, for the first time, the West Papuan parliament, under the administration of the Dutch, flew the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag, symbolising the establishment of the state of West Papua.

Since then the Bintang Kejora was flown alongside the Dutch flag throughout West Papua until the Dutch handed administrative authority of West Papua over to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) on October 1, 1962, then to the Indonesian government on May 1, 1963.

The UNTEA was an international mechanism involving the UN to prepare a referendum on whether or not the Papuan people wanted to separate or integrate with Indonesia.

The referendum, referred to as the Act of Free Choice (Pepera), resulted in the Papuan people choosing to be integrated into Indonesia.

Since then, the administration of West Papua has been controlled by the Indonesian government and the flying of the Bintang Kejora illegal – as it is deemed an act of subversion (maker) – and have responded to protests with violence and arrests.


A video of the arrests in Ternate, North Maluku. Video: Arnold Belau/Suara Papua

Police arrest 99 Papuan activists at pro-independence rally in Ternate
Arnold Belau of Suara Papua reports from Jayapura that at least 96 activists from the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) were arrested by police in Ternate, North Maluku, after they forcibly broke up a rally in front of the Barito Market.

A Suara Papua source from Ternate said that the FRI-WP action was closed down by police and intel (intelligence) officers and the demonstrators forced into trucks as they were about to begin protesting in front of the Barito Market.

The source said that several activists were dragged and assaulted as they were forced into the truck.

“Several comrades who were at the action were dragged and forced to get into a truck by police and intel in Ternate,” they said.

The source said that as many as 99 people were arrested, 12 of them from West Papua and the rest activists from FRI-WP. One of the protesters had to be rushed home because because of breathing difficulties.

“One of the people had difficulty breathing and was rushed home. Twelve people were from Papua and the rest from Ternate. Currently they are being taken to Polres [district police station]”, they said.

Ternate district police Tactical Police Unit head (kasat sabhara) Aninab was quoted by semarak.news.com as saying that the protesters would be taken to the Ternate district police station.

‘Given guidance’
“We will take them to Polres, question them. If in the process of delving into the matter it is discovered that they committed a violation then they will be charged, but we will bear in mind that are still young and [they should be] given guidance,” he said.

Earlier, the protesters sent a written notification of the action to the Ternate district police but it was rejected with police saying that the planned action was subversive (maker).

Upon arriving at the Ternate district police station they will be registered and those who originate from Papua will be separated from those from North Maluku.

FRI-WP is demanding that the Indonesian government must resolve human rights violations in Papua and that the Papuan people be given the freedom to hold a referendum to determine their own future.

Background
Although it is widely held that West Papua declared independence from Indonesia on December 1, 1961, this actually marks the date when the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag was first raised alongside the Dutch flag in an officially sanctioned ceremony in Jayapura, then called Hollandia.

The first declaration of independence actually took place on July 1, 1971 at the Victoria Headquarters in Waris Village, Jayapura.

Known as the “Act of Free Choice”, in 1969 a referendum was held to decide whether West Papua, a former Dutch colony annexed by Indonesia in 1963, would be become independent or join Indonesia. The UN sanction plebiscite, in which 1,025 handpicked tribal leaders allegedly expressed their desire for integration, has been widely dismissed as a sham.

Critics claim that that the selected voters were coerced, threatened and closely scrutinised by the military to unanimously vote for integration.

Both of these articles were translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the Surabaya article was “Peringatan 1 Desember Papua, Demo AMP Surabaya Diadang PP & FKPPI” and the Jayapura one “Peringati Hari Lahirnya Embrio Negara Papua Barat, Polisi Tangkap 99 Orang di Ternate”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Surabaya counterprotest, 300 arrested in West Papua flag demonstrations

An unnamed Papuan student beaten during the December 1 West Papuan flag demonstration in Surabaya, Indonesia. Human rights sources report more than 300 arrests by Indonesian authorities. Image: Humam rights sources

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Hundreds of Papuan students faced off with counterprotesters in Indonesia’s second largest city of Surabaya today in a rally calling for the Melanesian region’s independence while pro-independence sources reported more than 300 people arrested in West Papua.

The Surabaya rally was organised by the Papua Students Alliance. The demonstrators chanted “Freedom Papua” in Surabaya city to mark December 1, which many West Papuans consider as the 57th anniversary of what should have been their independence, report news agencies.

The crowd, many of whom wearing headbands of the Morning Star flag – banned by Indonesian authorities, was blocked from marching to the city center by scores of counterprotesters from several youth organisations waving the Indonesian flag.

READ MORE: Mass arrests over West Papua demos in Indonesian cities

A screenshot from a secret video report of the mobilised Indonesian police about to raid the Papuan dormitories in Surabaya tonight. Image: Human rights sources

They confronted the pro-independence protesters with sharpened bamboos.

Several hundred members of anti-riot police prevented the two rival groups from clashing.

-Partners-

The protest ended after about two hours.

However, human rights sources reported tonight that Indonesian police and military had  surrounded Papuan student dormitories in Surabaya and arrested 223 people. They were being detained at the Surabaya City sector police station.

The Free West Papuan Campaign reports that more than 300 people have been arrested across West Papua.

Peaceful demonstrations
In several regions of West Papua, peaceful demonstrations took place. Protests were reported in Jakarta, Surabaya, Palu, Kupang, Ternate, Makassar, Manado, Ambon, Poso, Sula, Timika, Meruake, Waropen, and Tobelo.

In addition to police intervention during public gatherings, the London-based campaign’s website said it had received reports that Indonesian security forces had also raided several student dormitories, and the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) headquarters was vandalised.

From the monitoring team, below is the interim report of arrests throughout West Papua and other parts of Indonesia:

Philipus Robaha is among students still detained in Polsek KP3, Naval Base, Jayapura. Image: FWPC

1. Kupang – 18 people arrested.
2. Ambon – 43 arrested.
3. Ternate – 99 arrested. One of the activists was rushed to hospital due to suffocation
4. Jayapura around 85 people from 4 different locations: Dok IX, Abe, Jayapura and Sentani.
5. Jakarta – 140 arrested
6. Surabaya – hundreds involved in a long march towards Kamasan III student dormitary were confronted by tni-polri and some students were bruised from confrontation.
7. Manado – 29 arrested
8 Waropen – 7 arrested. Names: Jhon Wenggi, Yulianus Kowela, Monika Imbiri and Fiktor Daimboa
9. Sorong and Merauke, including KNPB HQ in Waena, Perumnas III: in lock down and an urgent need for advocacy at these places.

RNZ Pacific also reports mass arrests over West Papuan demonstrations in several Indonesian cities.

Today marks the 57th anniversary of the first time West Papua’s flag of independence, the Morning Star, was raised.

The banned West Papuan Morning Star flag on display at Auckland’s Pacific Media Centre today. Image: PMC

In commemoration of the historic event numerous non-violent peaceful demonstrations and prayer vigils were organised around the country.

Worldwide flag raisings of international solidarity increase each year as the support for West Papuan independence gains momentum. In New Zealand, flagraising events were held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

This protests comes at a time of increased violence in West Papua, including suspected extrajudicial killings in the region.

Urgent issues of concern also include increased military presence, the killing of civilians caught in crossfire in the mountain regions, and armed civilian movements of Papuans protecting their villages.

The International Coalition for Papua (ICP) compiles data on political arrests and violence in West Papua. This information has been made public through quarterly reports. The latest ICP reports are at www.humanrightspapua.org

A scene from the Surabaya rally today with the crowd chanting “Freedom Papua”. The men in the front of the image appear to be undercover police filming and recording events. A short distance away there was a counterprotest with Indonesian flags. Police kept the two groups apart. Image: Still from a West Papuan sourced video

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

3 killed in West Papua clashes as military pursue elusive rebel leader

Indonesian military and West Papuan pro-independence militants in fresh clashes … new intensity in the Highlands fighting. Image: Victor Yeimo FB page

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

At least three people have been killed in a week of shooting clashes between the Indonesian military and police and  militants from the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB), say reports from the Jakarta-ruled Pacific territory.

The Victor Yeimo pro-independence social media page says the military are trying to capture Purom Wenda, a TPN-PB commander.

Victor Yeimo is chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

News agency sources said two Papuan independence fighters and a third person had been killed during the clashes in the remote interior highlands of West Papua.

Wenda has eluded Indonesian security forces for 15 years.

Villagers have fled into the jungle because of the gunbattles, which have been intense since November 2.

-Partners-

Wenda said in a statement two of his fighters had been killed in a shootout with police and soldiers in the rugged Lanny Jaya district after his group shot dead a motorbike taxi driver they believed was spying for Indonesian forces.

“Indonesia said that they have given us special autonomy, infrastructure, and other excuses. We do not want all that. We only want freedom.”

Raising awareness
Meanwhile, RNZ Pacific reports that a group of around 200 people called the West Papua Interest Association had crossed over the border into PNG’s Western Province last week.

It wrote to local police notifying of plans to raise awareness about rights issues.

In response PNG’s police border commander, Samson Kua, advised them not to proceed with their plans.

He said he did not want people disturbing the peace around the time PNG is hosting next week’s APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) leaders summit in Port Moresby.

“They will have to wait until APEC is over, and they can do their awareness on whatever they want to do. So actually they’re very peaceful,” Kua said.

“They’re not getting involved with any awareness at the moment, they’re very peaceful. They’re just laying low and staying in their own camps.”

The West Papuans are within their rights to be in PNG, as they hold Traditional Border Crossing cards which allow them to travel over the border into PNG.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media