Indonesia’s Papua ‘cover-up reflex’ prompts police dormitory raid

By Pacific Media Watch

Indonesian police and military, seen here controlling a Papuan demonstration in Jayapura in 206, have launched a joint operation to pursue the West Papua Liberation Army in Nduga regency. Photo: Whens Tebay
Indonesian police and military, seen here controlling a Papuan demonstration in Jayapura in 206, have launched a joint operation to pursue the West Papua Liberation Army in Nduga regency. Photo: Whens Tebay

A video of a demonstration marking the bloody Biak massacre of 6 July 1998 staged last year. Video: BBB Times

By Michelle Winowatan

Dozens of Indonesian military and police personnel raided a student dormitory in Surabaya on July 6 to stop the screening of a documentary about security force atrocities in Papua.

It is the latest example of the government’s determination not to deal with past abuses in the country’s easternmost province.

Security forces carried out the raid following social media postings about the planned screening of the documentary Bloody Biak (Biak Berdarah).

READ MORE: Police claim raid on Papuan students to block ‘Bloody Biak’ film screening

The film documents Indonesian security forces opening fire on a peaceful pro-Papuan independence flag-raising ceremony in the town of Biak in July 1998, killing dozens.

Security forces said the dorm raid was necessary to prevent unspecified “hidden activities” by Papuan students.

The raid is emblematic of both the Indonesian government’s failure to deliver on promises of accountability for past human rights abuses in Papua and its willingness to take heavy-handed measures to stifle public discussion about those violations.

The government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has not fulfilled a commitment made in 2016to seek resolution of longstanding human rights abuses, including the Biak massacre and the military crackdown on Papuans in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003 that killed dozens and displaced thousands.

Killing with impunity
Meanwhile, police and other security forces that kill Papuans do so with impunity.

Media coverage of rights abuses in Papua are hobbled by the Indonesian government’s decades-old access restrictions to the region, despite Jokowi’s 2015 pledge to lift them.

Domestic journalists are vulnerable to intimidation and harassment from officials, local mobs, and security forces.

The government is also hostile to foreign human rights observers seeking access to Papua.

Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said he was “concerned that despite positive engagement by the authorities in many respects, the government’s invitation to my Office to visit Papua – which was made during my visit in February – has still not been honoured”.

The raid in Surabaya signals the government’s determination to maintain its chokehold on public discussion of human rights violations across Indonesia.

This suggests that the government’s objective is to maintain Papua as a ”forbidden island” rather than provide transparency and accountability for human rights abuses there.

Michelle Winowatan is a Human Rights Watch intern. The Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project monitors Asia-Pacific rights issues.

West Papuans tortured, killed and dumped at sea, citizens’ tribunal hears

Independence Anniversary Celebration Programme released
First Vanuatu Flag raising at Independence Park grandstand, 30 July 1980
First Vanuatu Flag raising at Independence Park grandstand, 30 July 1980

The official programme for 38th Independence Anniversary Celebration in Port Vila on July 30 has been released.

The programme is similar to past celebrations.

At 8am VIPs, invited guests and the public assemble at Independence Park.

Then 45 minutes later the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) Band and parade takes position awaiting the arrival of the Prime Minister and President.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai will arrive at 9.10am and the President Obed Talis at 9.20am.

After the President’s arrival, there will be a trooping of the colour by the VMF before the President inspects the parade.

This will be followed by marching drills by the parade.

At 10am flag orderlies march in with the flag where it is blessed by the Vanuatu National Council of Churches before it is raised in unison with the national anthem.

After the flag raising the Prime Minister delivers his official address to the nation.

This is followed by a custom dance.

Then the President departs, followed by the Prime Minister.

A parachute showcase is expected this year.

In the past years parachute jumping by the French army had to be cancelled because of cloudy conditions.

Finally at 12pm a public lunch will take place at the venue.

When the public lunch is taking place, the music entertainment begins with Tokotano Wia string band.

Entertainment will begin at 12pm and end at 10.30pm.

Other entertainment groups that follow are Malasitapu Youth, Custom dances from Pentecost and Banks, Harvest Ministry Youth, El Professor, Kingdom Radical Dances, Alme System, Custom Dance with bamboo, Catholic Youth, KARIBU African Band, Vetlis, Confliction, JB, and Vanu Faea concludes the programm at 10.30pm.

Source: Vanuatu Daily Post

Dialogue with Indonesia is not the answer for West Papua: ULMWP
ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda by Dan McGarry
ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda by Dan McGarry

The United Liberation Movement speaks with one voice and with one clear message.

“We demand the freedom of our people and nation from colonial rule is delivered to us through a genuine act of self-determination, in the form of an internationally supervised vote,” Benny Wenda, Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) conveyed in a statement yesterday.

“Our position also remains crystal clear that there is no room for dialogue with Indonesia; the time for that has long passed. Instead, as pointed out yesterday by Secretary Rumakeik, the only place for ‘dialogue’ on the issue of West Papua is the floor of the UN, where the wrongs of the past must now be corrected.”

The ULMWP seeks to remind key players at the UN of the legacy of failure they inherit, as well as their sacred duty under their Charter to ensure the decolonisation process is completed by giving the West Papuan peoples their inhalable right to self- determination.

The ULMWP chairman noted that Secretary Rumakeik’s comments echoed the sentiment expressed by PNG’s Prime Minister and current Chair of the MSG, Peter O’Neill, who recently stated he would like to encourage others to take the issue of West Papua to the UN. “We are encouraging that this be put to the decolonisation committee of the United Nations,” he also said.

The recent reports from Amnesty International and the International Coalition for Papua, that both highlight the huge number of extrajudicial killings carried out by Indonesian Security forces against our people, should show the international community why ULMWP dialogue with Indonesia is not possible. It would also be a betrayal of our people and the 500,000+ who have lost their lives under Indonesian occupation.

“The only solution is for us to be allowed a genuine act of self-determination, through an internationally supervised vote,” the chairman concludes.