Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017

In late September, an exiled political dissident and pro-independence leader from the Indonesian territory commonly known as West Papua submitted a petition to the United Nations calling, in part, for a vote on West Papua’s independence from Indonesia. The petition was reportedly signed by a large majority of native Papuan people before it was smuggled out of the territory. But the U.N. refused to accept it, in the latest setback for an independence movement that goes back decades. In an email interview, Greg Earl, a columnist for the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter and a member of Australia’s ASEAN Council, discusses the history of the West Papuan independence movement, the fate of the petition at the U.N. and how the struggle relates to other leftover colonial fault lines in Southeast Asia.

WPR: Why are West Papuans pushing for independence from Indonesia, and how has this effort evolved? …

Government of some in Opposition detrimental for West Papua: Natuman warns
Joe Natuman, Vanuatu
Sealing the custom ceremony and welcome of MP Hosea Nevu (4th from right. MP Mark Ati absent) with a kava ceremony that included West Papua member of the Independence Movement (4th from the left) Interim VP President Joe Natuman is immediately on his right. By Jonas Cullwick

The Interim President of the Vanua’aku Pati (VP), Joe Natuman, says some people in the current Opposition must be prevented from being in any government because it will be detrimental for the progress in Vanuatu’s support for self-determination for West Papua.

Natuman, also Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Trade, Industry and ni-Vanuatu Business, made the comment while welcoming Santo Member of Parliament, Hosea Nevu and Luganville MP Marc Ati into VP last Saturday evening at a ceremony in Port Vila.

The event was attended by members of the executive of VP, VP MP for Santo and Minister for Justice and Community Services, Ronald Warsal, senior party members in and around Port Vila and Pastor Allan Nafuki, the chairman of the Vanuatu West Papua support group, who was accompanied by a member of the West Papua pro-independence movement.

“The move by MPs Nevu and Ati will shore up VP members in Parliament from six to now eight and this will help us prevent some outside the government to not get into government because it will not be good for West Papua,” Natuman said.

“The issue of West Papua is now out of the MSG and it has reached the United Nations,” he added.

“When those people were in government they allowed Indonesia to become an Observer member of the MSG.”

Interim VP President Natuman did not name names, but when Opposition Member for Malekula, Sato Kilman, was Prime Minister Vanuatu, with the support of PNG and Fiji, the MSG allowed observer status for Indonesia.

Kilman’s stance was that an open door for dialogue with Indonesia on the issue of West Papua was needed through such avenues as the MSG and through multilateral and bilateral relations.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

Vanuatu denies it will accept Bitcoin for its $200,000 citizenship program

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story said that Vanuatu started to accept payment for its citizenship program in Bitcoin.

This has been denied by the country’s citizenship office, as reported in the Vila Times.

LONDON – The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu denied it is accepting payments in Bitcoin for its $200,000 citizenship program.

“The Citizenship Office, representing the Citizenship Commission, is presenting to the media and other agencies in Vanuatu, that the Citizenship Office has not got any legal confirmation on any so called Bitcoin payments as stated in the media outlets,” Acting General Secretary Samuel Garae said, according to the Vila Times.

“The Office of the Citizenship is giving an assurance to all the Citizenship Designated Agents, that all the payments concerning the DSP program will still be in US dollars as prescribed by the Citizenship Regulations,” he said.

“Any other arrangement made by any sub-agent will not be considered by the Citizenship Office.”

Vanuatu is a member of the Commonwealth and citizenship provides visa-free travel to 113 countries including the UK, Russia and European Union states.

Vanuatu also advertises its low taxes for citizenship buyers, offering a second passport in a country that levies no capital gains or income taxes. Potential citizens don’t need to live in Vanuatu, or even visit the country once.

Earlier a group known as the Vanuatu Information Centre Network said that the country had started to accept the cryptocurrency.

The multi-billion dollar investment migration industry, which sees governments offering visas and citizenship to people in return for investments in local businesses and property, has boomed amid increased global uncertainty over borders and immigration.

Earlier this year, the Thai government started offering “elite” residency visas for wealthy foreign citizens, allowing them to live in the country for around $3,000 (£2,403) a year.

There are seven different packages, with the most expensive being the “Elite Ultimate Privilege” scheme. It costs $60,000 for 20 years residency, along with a $600 a year membership fee.

Included in the price is a state-sponsored concierge programme, entitling members to VIP access to government agencies dealing with immigration, driving licences, and work permits.

Source: Ben MoshinskyBusiness Insider UK, VilaTimes.com

Two members of parliament from Vanuatu’s opposition have joined a government party in a move described as being good for West Papua.

 Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister, Joe Natuman.
Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister, Joe Natuman. Photo: OFC via Phototek

The Daily Post reporeds that two Sanma Province MPs, Hosea Nevu and Marc Ati, have both left the People’s Progress Party.

The leader of the Vanua’aku Pati, Joe Natuman, welcomed the pair into the country’s oldest political party at a kava ceremony in Port Vila.

It meant the party now has eight MPs, making it the biggest party in the coalition government led by Charlot Salwai.

Mr Natuman, who is the Deputy Prime Minister, said the move by the two MPs would help mitigate efforts to undermine Vanuatu’s interests on West Papua.

He was referring to moves by the People’s Progress Party leader Sato Kilman in forging closer ties with Indonesia, in spite of his country’s long-running support for West Papuan independence.

According to Mr Natuman, Mr Kilman’s previous actions when in government, including supporting Indonesia’s entry to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, were not good for Papua.

Mr Kilman recently told RNZ Pacific that in his view the best way to address human rights issues in West Papua was to maintain dialogue with Jakarta.

However he criticised Mr Salwai’s government for being inconsistent on foreign policy issues.

Ever wish you could be like those spies in the movies with multiple passports? Or, perhaps your escape to Canada hasn’t worked out quite the way you planned?

A tiny island nation in the South Pacific has you covered, for a price.

Vanuatu, the island that counts equally tiny nation Fiji as a neighbor — though it’s 700 miles away — is now granting full citizenship in exchange for $200,000.

The country is also accepting payments in Bitcoin, becoming the first country to accept payment in cryptocurrency for citizenship. With Bitcoin currently trading at $4,581, the program would cost you just shy of 44 bitcoin.

Vanuatu is a member of the Commonwealth, an intergovernmental organization of 52 member states, most of which are former British colonies. And as Business Insiderpoints out, citizenship allows visa-free travel to 113 other countries. Those who buy citizenship face low taxes and are not required to pay capital gain or income taxes.

Chairman of the Vanuatu Information Centre Geoffrey Bond noted that “the Government of Vanuatu has explicitly expressed a desire to be at the forefront of adopting new technologies, officially encouraging the VIC to receive payments in Bitcoin.” However, he also offered reassurances that the nation would undertake normal “due diligence probity checks” as well as running Bitcoin transactions through the Australian Exchange to ensure they meet the Australian Financial Regulator’s compliance requirements.

Vanuatu isn’t the only country that offers citizenship in exchange for investment. The cheapest option of all is Dominica, where citizenship will only cost you $100,000. Meanwhile, citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis will cost you about $250,000. Or if you have your eye on an EU passport, a 650,000 euro ($766,967) investment will get you a Maltese passport.

FNLKS minta Komite Dekolonisasi PBB kirim pemantau referendum
Noumea, Ibu Kota Kaledonia Baru – RNZI / Johnny Blades
Noumea, Ibu Kota Kaledonia Baru – RNZI / Johnny Blades

New York, Jubi – Delegasi Kaledonia Baru telah berbicara didepan Komite Dekolonisasi PBB di New York mengenai referendum kemerdekaan wilayah tersebut yang semakin dekat.

Gerakan FLNKS yang pro-kemerdekaan Kaledonia Baru mengatakan kepada Komite Dekolonisasi PBB bahwa masih ada masalah dengan Perjanjian Noumea yang merupakan peta jalan untuk referendum penentuan nasib sendiri Negara tersebut tahun depan.

Saat berbicara kepada Komite tersebut, seorang delegasi FLNKS Michael Forrest mengatakan beberapa segi perjanjian itu tidak dihormati.

Forrest juga mengatakan pemanfaatan sumber daya alam tidak menguntungkan penduduk setempat.

“Saya mendapat kehormatan untuk meminta langsung Anda untuk menyetujui pengiriman misi dari komite ini untuk berkunjung selama referendum. Kita harus membantu kuasa administratif untuk membebaskan diri dari semua sisa-sisa kolonialisme,” katanya.

Referendum kemerdekaan pertama diadakan pada tahun 1987 dimana Prancis menolak kedatangan pengamat PBB.

Lebih dari 98 persen memilih menentang kemerdekaan namun kelompok-kelompok seperti FLNKS memboikot referendum tersebut.

Sementara itu, pihak anti-kemerdekaan Kaledonia Baru mengatakan kepada komite bahwa referendum penentuan nasib sendiri tahun depan harus dilakukan dengan transparan.

Politisi Loyalis Gael Yanno menyatakan pentingnya pemungutan suara diadakan sedemikian rupa sehingga hasilnya tidak dapat ditantang.

Yanno mengklaim bahwa bertentangan dengan pernyataan pihak pro-kemerdekaan, tidak ada penyimpangan dalam proses pengaturan plebisit kemerdekaan itu.(Elisabeth C.Giay)

FNLKS minta Komite Dekolonisasi PBB kirim pemantau referendum
Noumea, Ibu Kota Kaledonia Baru – RNZI / Johnny Blades
Noumea, Ibu Kota Kaledonia Baru – RNZI / Johnny Blades

New York, Jubi – Delegasi Kaledonia Baru telah berbicara didepan Komite Dekolonisasi PBB di New York mengenai referendum kemerdekaan wilayah tersebut yang semakin dekat.

Gerakan FLNKS yang pro-kemerdekaan Kaledonia Baru mengatakan kepada Komite Dekolonisasi PBB bahwa masih ada masalah dengan Perjanjian Noumea yang merupakan peta jalan untuk referendum penentuan nasib sendiri Negara tersebut tahun depan.

Saat berbicara kepada Komite tersebut, seorang delegasi FLNKS Michael Forrest mengatakan beberapa segi perjanjian itu tidak dihormati.

Forrest juga mengatakan pemanfaatan sumber daya alam tidak menguntungkan penduduk setempat.

“Saya mendapat kehormatan untuk meminta langsung Anda untuk menyetujui pengiriman misi dari komite ini untuk berkunjung selama referendum. Kita harus membantu kuasa administratif untuk membebaskan diri dari semua sisa-sisa kolonialisme,” katanya.

Referendum kemerdekaan pertama diadakan pada tahun 1987 dimana Prancis menolak kedatangan pengamat PBB.

Lebih dari 98 persen memilih menentang kemerdekaan namun kelompok-kelompok seperti FLNKS memboikot referendum tersebut.

Sementara itu, pihak anti-kemerdekaan Kaledonia Baru mengatakan kepada komite bahwa referendum penentuan nasib sendiri tahun depan harus dilakukan dengan transparan.

Politisi Loyalis Gael Yanno menyatakan pentingnya pemungutan suara diadakan sedemikian rupa sehingga hasilnya tidak dapat ditantang.

Yanno mengklaim bahwa bertentangan dengan pernyataan pihak pro-kemerdekaan, tidak ada penyimpangan dalam proses pengaturan plebisit kemerdekaan itu.(Elisabeth C.Giay)

West Papua has experienced a “significant aggravation” of the human rights situation in the past two years compared to previous years, says a new report from more than 40 faith-based and civil rights organisations.

“Reports by local human rights defenders describe an alarming shrinking of democratic space,” says the report.

“Although Indonesian President Joko Widodo pushed economic development and granted clemency to five long-term political prisoners, the police strictly limited even the most peaceful dissident political activities.”

READ MORE: Pacific Media Watch on Indonesia’s hit back at Oceania nations

The report says that Indigenous Papuans – particularly women – “continued to have a high risk of becoming victims of human rights violations.”

It adds that “racist attitudes toward West Papuans among the police and military, insufficient legal protection, the lack of proper law enforcement, inconsistent policy implementation and corruptive practices among government officials contributed to the impunity of security forces.”

Local journalists in West Papua also continued to face “intimidation and obstruction” from the security forces.

This is the fifth report of the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) covering events from January 2015 until December 2016.

 

Human rights analysis

More than 40 organisations in West Papua, Jakarta, and worldwide have brought their analysis on the human rights and conflict situation in West Papua together.

The executive summary of the 218-pages report explains how several human rights standards have deteriorated over the last two years.

The report is compiled by the International Coalition for Papua (ICP) and the German Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN). The executive summary says:

“The years 2015 and 2016 were characterised by a significant aggravation of the human rights situation in West Papua compared to previous years. The term West Papua refers to the Indonesian easternmost provinces of ‘Papua’ and ‘Papua Barat’. Reports by local human rights defenders describe an alarming shrinking of democratic space.

“Although Indonesian President Joko Widodo pushed economic development and granted clemency to five long-term political prisoners, the police strictly limited even the most peaceful dissident political activities.

“Indigenous Papuans, particularly women, continued to have a high risk of becoming victims of human rights violations. Racist attitudes toward West Papuans among the police and military, insufficient legal protection, the lack of proper law enforcement, inconsistent policy implementation and corruptive practices amongst government officials contributed to the impunity of security forces.

“Government critics and activists faced legal prosecution with varying charges. Using a charge of treason (‘makar’) remained common against non-violent offenders.

 

Increasing ‘incitement’ charges

“West Papuan political activists also faced an increasing number of charges incitement or violence despite the non-violence of protest and almost all activism.

“The deterioration of the political and civil rights situation in West Papua during the past two years was most obvious in the sheer number of political arrests.

“Those arrests drastically increased to 1083 in 2015, and then quadrupled in 2016 to 5361 arrests, in tandem with growing political protest for self-determination.

“Almost all of the arrests came during peaceful protest in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). In addition, the Indonesian government and the regional police in West Papua increasingly restricted the right to freedom of opinion and expression using official statements (Makhlumat) issued by the Papuan Regional Police in 2016.

“Local journalists in West Papua faced continued intimidation and obstruction from the security forces. In comparison to previous years, the number of reported cases against local journalists has slightly decreased throughout the reporting period 2015 and 2016.

“President Joko Widodo’s promise in May 2015, to make West Papua freely accessible to foreign journalists and international observers was not implemented. Foreign journalists were in an increasing number of cases prevented from entering West Papua or when permitted to enter, they faced obstruction, surveillance, intimidation and physical violence.

“International human rights organisations and humanitarian organisations such as the Inter­national Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) remained banned from freely accessing West Papua.

 

Threatened, obstructed

“Human rights defenders in West Papua had to work under fear of being monitored, threatened and obstructed by the security forces. The killing of well-known human rights defender Joberth Jitmau, marked the sad highlight of attacks against human rights defenders during these two years.

“The police termed Jitmau’s killing a traffic accident and did not conduct a criminal investigation. Jitmau’s case was a representative example of the widespread impunity in West Papua.

“Only in rare instances were security forces prosecuted in public or military trials. Two of the three cases of prosecution resulted in considerably low sentences for the perpetrators in view of the severity of the criminal offences.

“Security force members also continued to use torture and ill-treatment as a common response to political protest or incidents of alleged disturbance of public order. Extra-judicial killings occurred particularly often as an act of revenge or retaliation for violent acts or other non-violent interactions with members of the security forces.

“The situation with regard to economic, social and cultural rights in West Papua was stagnant. The quality of education in West Papua remained considerably low, due to poor management of the education system, inadequate competencies, high absence rates amongst teachers, and inadequate funding. (Less than 1 percent of Papua Province’s annual budget goes to education.)

“There is still no culturally appropriate curriculum in place, which is capable of improving the educational situation of indigenous Papuan children and of preserving local cultures.

“Health care and education remained in a devas­tating condition, far below the national average, despite the large amount of special autonomy funds that flow to the two administrative provinces Papua and Papua Barat.

 

Strong imbalance

“There is a strong imbalance in the fulfillment of minimum standards in terms of health, education, food and labor rights between the urban areas and the remote inland areas of West Papua.

“Indigenous Papuans, who mostly reside outside the urban centres, suffer the most of this imbalance. Both Papuan provinces are amongst the regions with the highest prevalence rate for HIV/AIDS infections and child mortality of any ‘Indonesian province’, while the quality of health services is alarmingly low.

“Insufficient equipment in rural health care institutions and a lack of adequate health monitoring and response mechanisms remained strikingly evident. These shortcomings were highlighted when a pertussis epidemic broke out in the remote highland regency of Nduga, killing least 51 children and three adults within a span of three months in late 2015. Malnutrition enabled the rapid spread of the epidemic.

“The case also mirrors the government’s growing challenge to guarantee indigenous Papuans right to food. Palm oil plantations and other agri­cultural mega-projects have led to the destruction of local food sources, livestock and access to clean drinking water.

“Cases of domestic violence are often settled in non-legal ways, which fail to bring justice for the victims and lack a deterrent effect for perpetrators. Women living with HIV/AIDS are particularly often facing discrimination and stigmatization.

“The very existence of West Papuans is threatened by the uncontrolled migration from other parts of Indonesia. This particularly applies to the urban centers where they have largely become a marginalised minority facing strong economic competition.

“In most rural areas, where indigenous Papuans are still the majority, government-promoted large-scale natural resource exploitation projects attract migrants and continue to cause severe environmental degra­dation as well as the destruction of live­ stock of indigenous communities.

“Govern­ment institutions continued to facilitate the interests of private Indonesian and foreign companies. This practice negatively impacts indigenous people’s right to their ancestral lands and resources as well as their right to determine their development.

“Resource extraction often means clearing large forest areas and polluting of water resources, thereby forcing indigenous communities to change their very way of life. Destruction of forests and hunting grounds as a life source puts an additional burden on women, in particular.”

Fiji opposition slams UN’s rejection of West Papua petition

The opposition SODELPA party in Fiji says it’s disappointed by the United Nations decision to reject a petition from the people of West Papua calling for an act of self determination.

Ro Teimumu Kepa (centre) with staff flying the West Papua flag.
Ro Teimumu Kepa (centre) with staff flying the West Papua flag. Photo: supplied

It said the world body will regret the decision in time to come.

The leader of the opposition Ro Teimumu Kepa said she also deplored what she called the Fiji government’s abandonment and betrayal of West Papuans by supporting Indonesia in return for aid.

“It is not only a rejection of the will of the people of West Papua reeling under genocide but a betrayal to the Melanesian community and treatment with contempt for the people of the Pacific region.”

“The United Nations, it appears, has forgotten that Indonesia took over the territory by a forced plebiscite against the will of the indigenous people of West Papua to have the right to self-determination”.

Ro Teimumu said Indonesia occupied West Papua to exploit its mineral rich grounds and seas while killing more than half a million of its indigenous inhabitants.

She said it appeared these acts of conquest and genocide are completely ignored by the UN which she said was gradually becoming a body of elite nations guided only by economic considerations.

The opposition leader said almost all Melanesian nations supported the freedom of West Papua except for Fiji, whose government’s position on indigenous rights had never been strong, she said, given its blatant disregard of the rights of indigenous in Fijians.

“Indonesia has been giving out military aid to Fiji to oppress the Fijian people and tacitly solicit support for its position on West Papua. A SODELPA Government will reverse the position and press for the independence of West Papua as has been the case of East Timor.”

“We would like it to be known that the rejection of the petition to free West Papua by the United Nations is in no way going to diminish our will to support and agitate for the freedom of the West Papuan people. We stand by them as do the rest of the Pacific States.”

Pro West Papua Group Greet PM On Arrival from UNGA
Pro West Papua Group Greet PM On Arrival from UNGA
Pro West Papua Group Greet PM On Arrival from UNGA

The Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare arrived back in the country today at the Honiara International Airport to a rousing welcome from the Honiara Based West Papua supporters.

Disembarking from the airplane and walking towards the VIP lounge, the Prime Minister was greeted with a huge welcome banner from the West Papua supporters place at the outdoor airport viewing area.

The banner reads: ‘THANK YOU PM FOR YOUR CONTINUE SUPPORT FOR THE PEOPLE OF WEST PAPUA’.

The Prime Minister upon seeing the banner waved and gave a thumps up to the members of the SISWP who were also shouting, “Thank you Prime Minister, thank you so much.”

In a statement from the Solomon Islands Solidarity for West Papua, the group thanked the Prime Minister for making what they describe as a very powerful speech for West Papua during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York recently.

The statement further stated: “Seeing the Prime Minister making such a brave statement in front of world leaders is a pride for the Solomon Islands Solidarity for West Papua group.”

It stated that by welcoming the PM on his arrival was a pivotal way for the solidarity group in Solomon Islands to say thank you to him.

The statement also reiterated what the Prime Minister stated in his address, that the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals motto of ‘no one left behind’ would be “synonymous to empty promises unless the United Nations take active steps to address the plight of the people of West Papua”.

ENDS

Source: SBM Online