Another nabanga has fallen: Malvatumauri

The Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs’ peaceful protest over Matthew and Hunter that was initially planned to happen today has been postponed to Friday, April 5 because of the death of a former Prime Minister, late Donald Kalpokas Masike’ Vanua.

“On behalf of all chiefs and people of Vanuatu from the Torres through to Aneityum and Matthew and Hunter Islands, I wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of the late Kalpokas, and the people of Lelepa Island, North Efate, Efate, Shefa Province, the Vanuatu Government and the people of Vanuatu,” said Malvatumauri President, Chief Willie Grey Plasua. “We, the chiefs of Vanuatu bow humbly and mourn one of our great leaders and statesman who has left us.”

Chief Plasua described the late Kalpokas as one of Vanuatu’s ‘fallen nabanga’.

“The late Kalpokas Masike’Vanua was not only a politician, former Prime Minister and statesman, but he was also an elder in the church and a chief who highly respected Vanuatu’s customs values of and held his customary title of ‘Masike’ Vanua’ up to the time of his passing away,” the Malvatumauri President said.

“Today, the sounds of bubu and tamtam are heard in mourning for one of our great leaders and to farewell his departure from this world, but his legacy and footprints will always remain with us and in this nation.”

Chief Plasua said the chiefs’ peaceful protest will take place after the 10th day mourning period of the late former Prime Minister as the highest chiefly customary respect bestowed on a national leader.

ligo@dailypost.vu

Vanuatu Daily Post

Satu anggota Brimob tewas dalam kontak tembak di Mugi, Nduga

Jayapura, Jubi – Kontak tembak antara Kelompok Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat (TPNPB) dengan anggota Brimob yang tergabung dalam Satgas Nemangkawi di Mugi, Kabupaten Nduga , Rabu (20/3/2019), menewaskan satu anggota dan dua lainnya luka berat .

Insiden yang terjadi sekitar pukul 07.20 WIT itu terjadi saat anggota Brimob sedang melaksanakan pengamanan bandara.

Kapolda Papua Irjen Pol Martuani Sormin kepada Kantor Berita Antara, membenarkan terjadinya insiden yang menyebabkan meninggalnya satu anggota Brimob.

“Memang benar ada kontak tembak hingga menewaskan satu anggota Brimob dan dua anggota lain terluka. Korban saat ini sudah dievakuasi ke Timika,” kata Irjen Pol Sormin.

Anggota brimob yang menjadi korban dalam kontak tembak tersebut adalah Bharada Aldi, sedangkan yang terluka yakni Ipda Rahman dan Bharada Ravi Fitrah Kurniawan.

Ipda Arif Rahman mengalami luka tembak pada bahu kiri hingga tembus punggung sedangkan Bharada Ravi luka tembak pada dada kanan. (*)

Editor : Victor Mambor

Indonesia urged to invest in understanding Papuans

A Papuan academic says Indonesia’s approach to development in his homeland shows a lack of understanding about Melanesian culture.

Australia-based anthropologist Yamin Kogoya said there is too much emphasise on ramming the Indonesian state ideology down Papuans’ throats.

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has pushed major infrastructure development projects in Papua in the past three years.

But Mr Kogoya said the government’s approach sees Papuans as a threat or even second class citizens in need of handouts.

He urged Jakarta to develop Papuan human resources.

“See Papuan people as ahuman being who have history and language. These people have survived in this part of the world for millenia. And I think Indonesia, after 60 years, they don;t really fully understand the value system and the culture and the language of the Papuan society.”

Mr Kogoya said another major factor inhibiting Papua’s development was the presence of Indonesia’s military.

He said the effect of having a military or police post in every town and many villages in Papua could not be under-estimated.

“These people, they’re fully armed and carrying around these big machines guns and weapons. You don’t use this sort of mechanism to help people understand the value system of Indonesia as a nation,” he said.

According to him, the military’s involvement in education in Papuan villages was problematic.

“You see Indonesian military going to the villages and starting teaching the Papuan children in their village schools,” he explained.

“I have experienced this many times when I was growing up in the village, in the Highlands. They obviously don’t use the curriculum or have clear guidelines, but they go in there with their weapons where the children can see.”

According to Mr Kogoya, this was how the military sought to teach Papuan children about the state ideology regarding the integrity of the Indonesian republic, and the Pancasila ideology.

“If you want Papuan children to love Indonesia, this is not the way to do it,” he said.

Source : RNZ

Papuans face violence, detentions, threats – US State Dept report

A new US government report has found West Papuans continue to face violence, politically-motivated detentions and threats in Indonesia.

The findings were part of a State Department review of Indonesia’s human rights conduct last year.

The report, released on Wednesday, found clashes involving police, military and indigenous communities in Papua and West Papua continued in 2018.

It said state accountability had been hampered by a lack of transparent investigations into past human rights abuses.

On Wednesday, Indonesia’s representative to the UN said these violations continued to be dealt with by the Attorney-General.

The US State Department report said a number of Papuans were briefly detained for peacefully expressing political views.

“Papuan NGOs and activists received threatening phone messages and reported continuous harassment by local police.”

The report added that would-be demonstrators were refused permits by Police in Papua because they were likely to make calls for independence, which is prohibited in Indonesia.

“Restrictions on foreign journalists travelling to Papua and West Papua Provinces remained,” it said.

Read the full report here.

Source: RadioNZ

Humanitarian concerns grow as violent conflict worsens in West Papua

By Johnny Blades of RNZ Pacific

As the numbers of casualties and displaced people in Papua’s Highlands pile up, prospects for an end to armed conflict in the Indonesian-ruled region appear dim.

Humanitarian concern is growing for villagers who have been displaced by conflict in the Highlands between Indonesia’s military and the West Papua Liberation Army.

But even elected Papuan leaders in government pushing for a de-escalation of military operations risk a reprimand or threat of prosecution from Indonesia’s military.

READ MORE: The Trans-Papua Highway and other ‘development’ projects

In the latest bout of clashes last week, Indonesia’s military says between 50 and 70 Liberation Army fighters descended on soldiers guarding the construction of a bridge in Nduga’s Yigi district.

Indonesia’s military said three members died before the military was able to drive the rebels back. It also claimed that between seven and ten Liberation Army fighters were killed.

According to the Liberation Army, the violence on Thursday was sparked when Indonesian soldiers interrogated a local villager and then set fire to five houses.

Indonesian military and police operations intensified in the remote Highlands regency of Nduga in December after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers.

Military engineers
The Indonesian government’s major Trans-Papua Road project was already controversial among Papuan Highlands communities without the involvement of military engineers on the job adding to mistrust among Papuans.

However, as military operations to pursue the Liberation Army’s guerilla fighters ramped up, thousands of Nduga villagers caught in the middle of hostilities fled to the bush or neighbouring regencies such as Jayawijaya.

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia’s military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua’s Highlands.

An Indonesian academic, Hipolitus YR Wangge of Jakarta’s Marthinus Academy, has been working on research in Papua and found himself volunteering help for Nduga’s refugees streaming into Jayawijaya’s main town of Wamena.

He said the people were traumatised and short on basic needs, having come from a regency which is extremely isolated. According to him, more than 2000 Nduga people have sought refuge in the Wamena area, including over six hundred children.

“Those refugees are coming down from the jungle, from Nduga, and they have nothing here, even the local (Jayawijaya) government here say ‘these are not our people, these are not Jayawijaya people, it is Nduga regency people, so let their government deal with this one’,” he said.

“On the other hand, Nduga’s government, their focus is mainly on those Nduga people who are running away and staying in the (local) jungle.”

Displaced children
The impact of displacement was also seen by Peter Prove, a member of a delegation from the World Council of Churches which was last month permitted to visit Papua.

“And in particular in Wamena we met with a group of more than 400 children and adolescents who were displaced, and who were being provided with refuge in the compound of the Roman Catholic Church there,” he explained.

“And we heard very alarming stories about the circumstances under which they had fled from their territory, including indications of a very strong-armed military response.”

An emergency makeshift school was established by volunteer groups in Wamena for the displaced children. However last month when Indonesian military and police personnel came to the school, a number of children reportedly ran away in fear.

Concerned for the displaced communities, governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, recently called for Indonesia’s president to withdraw troops to allow villagers to return home and access basic needs.

His call was echoed by local parliamentarians, customary leaders, church and civil society organisations who continue to press for a de-escalation of military operations in the region.

However Indonesia’s military spokesman in Papua, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, has warned that the governor had violated state law and should be prosecuted.

‘Defending sovereignty’
“A governor is an extension of the state in the region and is obliged to defend the sovereignty of the republic of Indonesia,” Colonel Aidi explained.

“A governor must support all national strategic programs. But on the contrary the governor through his statement actually inhibited the national development process.”

A West Papuan anthropologist based in Australia, Yamin Kogoya, worries that telling the truth in his homeland has become an act of treason.

He said that by practically labelling Governor Enembe a supporter of the Free West Papua Movement, Colonel Aidi had added to the sense of threat over this leading elected official who is already being investigated by Indonesian anti-corrution investigators.

“This is a very, very harsh statement by the military spokesperson in Papua against the governor of Papua province who has every right to express his concerns and worries about the welfare of the people under his care,” Kogoya said.

“He never, ever expressed publicly that he supports the independence of Papua.”

Following the Liberation Army’s massacre of road construction workers, the chairman of the Papua People’s Assembly, Timotius Murib, said he and his colleagues condemned the violence. He added that security approaches rarely helped in Papua.

Rights violations
“This does not solve the problem in Papua, but instead creates human rights violations and trauma for indigenous Papuans,” Munib said.

Indonesian police and military posts are common in every town and most villages throughout Papua. Internal security is ostensibly the domain of the police, except when it involves armed insurgencies, which is the responsibility of the military.

The military is also mandated to play a role in counter-terrorism and in protecting strategic assets. Violent attacks by the Liberation Army against civilians, police or army personnel only perpetuate the continuing involvement of Indonesia’s military in Papua.

“There are many accusations and counter-accusations as to who is responsible for specific instances of violence. But I think the military approach to securing and stabilising the territory evidently hasn’t worked not in terms of improving the human rights situation in the region,” Prove said.

Armed conflict between the Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces is mainly confined to the Highlands region. The Papuan guerillas are outnumbered and outgunned by Indonesia’s military forces, yet are also difficult to totally defeat, as they easily move in and out of the bush in their rugged home terrain.

But as the Papuan guerilla fighters retreat to the mountainous bush, sometimes Papuan villagers considered Liberation Army supporters end up being targetted by the Indonesian security forces.

The presence of Indonesia’s military, special forces, police, and intelligence agents throughout Papua have added to a climate of fear for Papuans.

Security approach
According to Wangge, the Indonesian government appears to favour the security approach as the most effective way of containing Papuan resistance, even though it does not win hearts and minds of Papuans.

He said that Jakarta had long since identified core problems in Papua – related to historical grievances, politics, human rights abuses and economic development. But apart from its promotion of economic development through its major infrastructure drive, Wangge said the government had not openly addressed these core problems in a wholehearted way that involved Papuan participation.

While it was difficult to pinpoint why the problems hadn’t been confronted Wangge said the military was still a powerful political entity within the Indonesian republic.

“If human rights or historical problems will be discussed both by central and local governments, the military will face some legal consequences for this one,” he said.

Wangge, who has been involved with efforts to build temporary schools for the children displaced in Wamena, was doubtful whether President Joko Widodo’s economic development approach was a lasting solution either for Papuans’ grievances.

“To some point, yes, it can benefit some Papuans,” he said, “but the benefits of the economic approach, it’s only for outsiders, non-Papuans, immigrants – that’s how many Papuans see it.”

Murib said that he and other representatives of indigenous Papuans “have never been involved in discussing the Trans-Papua road project”.

Papuans eliminated
“Papuans are eliminated from their own land, lose their rights as indigenous people and face depopulation problems. Papuans want life, not roads and companies.”

He said if the central government respected Papua’s Autonomy Law, and indigenous Papuans, it should “sit down to talk with us for all forms of policy in Papua”.

Meanwhile, Colonel Aidi has confirmed an extra 600 highly skilled troops from combat units have been deployed to Nduga region to secure conditions for construction of the Trans Papua road to proceed.

Since December, dozens of people have died in escalating clashes in Nduga. The Liberation Army has indicated it was willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but Colonel Aidi suggested this would be not be possible.

“The aim of Indonesia’s military is to preserve the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia. If the purpose of the “armed criminal group” is to be independent from Indonesia, surely the dialogue or negotiation will never be realised.”

Armed conflict continues in Papua, intractable as ever.

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

Indonesian soldiers clash with West Papua freedom fighters amid tensions over Papua highway

Three Indonesian soldiers killed

By Daniel Mwambonu 2 days ago

Indonesian soldiers clash with West Papua freedom fighters amid tensions over Papua highway:Three Indonesian soldiers killed.

Three Indonesian soldiers were killed in a clash with dozens of West Papua Liberation Army in the eastern province of Papua, the military said late on Thursday, the latest deaths amid high tensions and violence in the restive region.

Papua, a former Dutch colony and the western part of New Guinea island, was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.

A long-running Liberation movement in the region has seen an increase in struggles for self determination in recent months.

A team of 25 soldiers was ambushed by up to 70 West Papua Liberation forces carrying military-standard weapons and traditional weapons, the Indonesian army said in a statement.

“The team fought back until they were able to drive the group back into the forest. Three soldiers died in the attack,” the army said.

Two military helicopters dispatched to evacuate the soldiers also came under fire, the army said.

A spokesman for the West Papua Liberation Army, said at least five soldiers had been killed and Indonesian forces had set fire to several houses in the Nduga area. Sebby Sambom did not say how many casualties the group suffered.

Indonesia has deployed hundreds of soldiers to build a major highway connecting the remotest parts of the resource-rich province, after 16 construction workers were killed by separatists late last year.

Since then, fighting between freedom fighters and the Indonesian military has caused hundreds of villagers to flee the Nduga area in western New Guinea island.

The crackdown in West Papua continues before the pools

By Nithin Coca

WITH increasingly regular protests and a violent crackdown by police and the military, the contested Indonesian region of West Papua is currently seeing the highest levels of agitation it has experienced in years. Against a backdrop of Indonesia’s forthcoming general elections in April, tensions are rising over long-standing human rights violations, pro-independence agitation and lack of accountability for crimes committed by security forces.

“The situation is not improving for the better, it’s getting worse,” says Ronny Kareni, an Australian-based activist of West Papuan origin. “There is a divergence between Jakarta and locals, and that is deeply rooted in the historical status of West Papua.”

On 1 December 2018, more than 500 people were arrested in cities across Indonesia for commemorating the 57th anniversary of Papuan attempts to declare independence from Dutch colonial rule. Raising the pro-independence Morning Star flag or publicly expressing support for Papuan self-determination is considered a criminal offense against the Indonesian state.

The following day, on 2 December, pro-independence militants are reported to have killed up to 31 workers on the Trans Papua Highway construction project in the Nduga region of the Papuan highlands. Although the ongoing independence conflict in West Papua has resulted in the deaths of approximately 500,000 Papuans since 1969, this was the deadliest attack by militants in recent years.

The government response has been fierce, withactivists reporting that military action has forced thousands to flee their homes.

With the media and civil society prevented from independently visiting the region, these reports are difficult to verify, but international human rights organisations have made pleas for calm. “We call on all parties, the Indonesian army, police and the Free Papua guerrilla fighters, not to target civilians,” says Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

West Papua, which forms about half of the island of New Guinea, was not part of Indonesia when it gained independence from the Netherlands in 1949. It was annexed in 1969 in a military-run election approved by the United Nations, in which about 1,000 hand-picked representatives were forced to vote against independence. West Papua was then ruled with the strongest of iron fists during Indonesia’s New Order era under General Suharto (1966-1998), before being granted special autonomy status in 2001 in a bid to quell the independence movement. The island’s population, estimated at around three million, are mostly Melanesian and follow either Christianity or indigenous religions, unlike the rest of Indonesia which is mostly Polynesian and Muslim.

Natural resources have played a significant role in shaping the trajectory of Papuan history. Shortly after the rigged election of 1969, Freeport McMoRan, an American mining company, began operating in the region. This marked the beginning of a long relationship which has proved prosperous for the company and the Indonesian government. However, tax revenues mostly go to the western part of Indonesia which is much more developed; West Papua, in the east of the country, is the poorest region in Indonesia and its people see few benefits from resource extraction.

Jokowi’s promises of reform

In 2014, then Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (now president of Indonesia), an outside candidate in the presidential elections with no connection to Indonesia’s elite or military, made several campaign promises to address human rights in Papua. This included addressing the ability of the military to use its own internal trial mechanism rather than civilian courts, opening up the region to the foreign media and freeing political prisoners. Papuans saw hope in Jokowi, and he won the two provinces (Papua and West Papua, formerly Papua until 2003) that make up West Papua by more than 30 percentage points each. In an election where Jokowi won nationally by only 6.3 per cent, the region provided him with some of his best results.

Even months after his inauguration, President Widodo reiterated his promises directly to Papuans after a police shooting in Paniai killed five people.

“Jokowi made bold promises in front of Papuans attending Christmas celebrations, saying that he would investigate and solve this case, and bring peace to Papua,” says Papang Hidayat, a researcher at Amnesty Indonesia.

Jokowi initially made a few attempts to improve the situation in West Papua by releasing five political prisoners in 2015 and declaring the region open to foreign journalists, for example. But his power has been limited due to the role of security forces in West Papua, including the Indonesian soldiers who have maintained their presence in the region despite the fall of Suharto’s military rule more than two decades ago. As a result, most of his promises to make reforms remain unfulfilled.

“It became clear to many people that whatever [Jokowi] says, it will not be implemented,” says Kareni. “He is only a face for democracy, but [he is] not actually in power.”

Harsono agrees: “The situation on the ground, especially the resistance from the bureaucracy, is much bigger than his presidential authority, I’m afraid.”

Attempting to address political grievances through economic development

One area in which Jokowi has been able to push forward is on development. The government is investing massively in roads, airports and agriculture, including a plan to build 1.2 million hectares of palm oil and sugar plantations.

Following decades of underdevelopment, “the government feels the need to pay more attention to Papua,” says Arie Ruhyanto, a lecturer in the Department of Politics and Government of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. “Given the political setting, the option is limited to the non-political issues…hence, the Papua problem is always framed in the context of development issues, such as poverty and underdevelopment.”

In the end, this has only increased tensions, as many Papuans feel that development is either aimed at extracting resources or benefitting migrant workers from other parts of Indonesia. That’s one reason why the December attack by separatists was against the construction of the centrepiece of this new development plan – the 4,300 kilometre Trans-Papua Highway.

The response to the attack also highlights a major problem – that many in the Indonesian security apparatus do not distinguish between the peaceful protests and aspirations of the vast majority of Papuans, and a small minority of militants. In response to the Nduga attack, police arrested members of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), a student-run organisation that coordinates peaceful protests, and forcefully closed their offices.

With the security forces entrenched and Jokowi’s power limited, many fear that the divide between the two sides is growing. Papuans know that the April elections are unlikely to change anything.

Gaining momentum

However, instead of waiting and hoping for action from Jakarta, more West Papuans are starting to agitate on local, national and global stages. In 2014, several West Papua independence organisations unified under the banner of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), headed by the renowned Papuan activist Benny Wenda. The entity has been active within the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum, founded in 1971, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group within it, which counts the four Melanesian nations of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, as members.

“In 2015, the ULMWP put in an application bid for a membership of observer status,” says Kareni. The bid was successful. “For Papuans it was a recognition of our cause. The movement has gained a lot of momentum, especially in the Pacific.”

In 2017, organisers in West Papua undertook an impressive effort, smuggling a petition across the island and collecting signatures from 1.8 million residents – 70 per cent of the population – in support of an independence referendum, as promised in the 1960s. The petition was delivered to the United Nation’s Special Committee on Decolonization, to which Indonesia responded by arresting Yanto Awerkion, a KNPB activist and organiser of the petition drive, and sentencing him to 10 months in prison.

One small opportunity to shine a light on the human rights abuses taking place in West Papua came when a UN human rights panel issued a statement condemning racism and police violence in the region, resulting in a rare apology from the Indonesian police for one incident in particular.

There is also hope in the expression by the Indonesian foreign ministry that it will allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua. However, civil society are skeptical that the UN visit, if it takes place, will result in concrete changes.

“It is not new,” says Harsono, referring to previous invites that were not followed up with visas or details. “I won’t believe it until I meet them in Jayapura, until I see them in Papua.”

Meanwhile the election campaign is gathering steam, with the Nduga incident becoming a campaign issue, spurring increased nationalist sentiment against West Papuans. Unfortunately, there may be little that either Jokowi or his opponent – former military general Prabowo Subianto, who has a checkered record due to his involvement in East Timor – can do to change the plight of Papua.

“Whoever the president is, he will be in a difficult position since all political forces in Indonesia, whether the nationalist, the military or Islamic groups, seem to be reluctant to address the human rights issue,” says Ruhyanto. “It remains a marginal topic that only concerns a handful of activists and academics.” (*)

Nithin Coca is a freelance journalist who focuses on social and economic issues in developing countries, and has specific expertise in south-east Asia.

Military operations in Papua problematic

West Papuan elected leaders who criticise Indonesian military operations in Papua province risk prosecution, according to Indonesian security officials.

However humanitarian concern is growing for villagers displaced by conflict between the military and the West Papua Liberation Army in the Highlands .
 
Johnny Blades reports.

TRANSCRIPT

Indonesian military and police operations intensified in the Highlands after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers in Nduga regency three months ago.

As military operations ramped up, thousands of villagers fled to the bush or neighbouring regencies such as Jayawijaya.

The impact of this displacement was seen by Peter Prove, a member of a delegation from the World Council of Churches which was last month permitted to visit Papua.

“And in particular in Wamena we met with a group of more than 400 children and adolescents who were displaced, and who were being provided with refuge in the compound of the Roman Catholic Church there. And we heard very alarming stories about the circumstances under which they had fled from their territory, including indications of a very strong-armed military response.”

The concerned governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, recently called for Indonesia’s president to withdraw troops to allow villagers to return home and access basic needs.

His call was echoed by local parliamentarians, customary leaders, church and civil society organisations who continue to press for a de-escalation of military operations in the region.

However Indonesia’s military spokesman in Papua, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, warned that the governor had violated state law and should be prosecuted. His words are translated:

“A governor is an extension of the state in the region and is obliged to defend the sovereignty of the republic of Indonesia. A Governor must support all national strategic programs. But on the contrary the Governor through his statement actually inhibited the national development process.” 

A West Papuan anthropologist based in Australia, Yamin Kogoya, worries that telling the truth in his homeland has become an act of treason. 

He says by practically labelling Governor Enembe a supporter of the Free West Papua Movement, Colonel Aidi has added to the sense of threat over this leading elected official. who is already being investigated by Indonesian anti-corruption investigators

“This is a very, very harsh statement by the military spokesperson in Papua against the governor of Papua province who has every right to express his concerns and worries about the welfare of the people under his care. He never ever expressed publicly that he support the independence of Papua.” 

Indonesian police and military posts are common in every town and most villages throughout Papua.

From his observations in the region, Peter Prove says the increasing militarisation and security approach in Papua has only exacerbated the problems there.

“There are many accusations and counter-accusations as to who is responsible for specific instances of violence. But I think the military approach to securing and stabilising the territory evidently hasn’t worked not in terms of improving the human rights situation in the region.” 

Meanwhile Colonel Aidi has confirmed an extra 600 military personnel have been deployed to Nduga region to secure the peace for construction of the Trans Papua road to proceed.

But Papuan parliament member Laurens Kadepa has expressed fear that this will only add to the trauma of local communities.

This is Johnny Blades.

Source: RadioNZ

Bougainville and PNG commit to collaborate on vote

The Bougainville President, John Momis, says he and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, have reached agreement on how they can work together on the referendum process.

In October, Bougainville is to hold a vote on whether to remain an autonomous region within PNG or become fully independent.

A meeting of the two leaders earlier this month, sitting as the Joint Supervisory Body, or JSB, agreed on funding and to allow more time to prepare. 

They also decided to push the date of the vote back from June to October.

Mr Momis told Don Wiseman he is now hopeful both governments can meet the requirements of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and work together.

Source: RadioNZ

Indonesian military dismisses negotiation with Papuan guerillas

Indonesia’s military says negotiation with the West Papua Liberation Army can only take place if both sides have the same goal.

Humanitarian concern is growing for villagers displaced by armed conflict in the Highlands between the Liberation Army and Indonesia’s military.

Indonesian military operations intensified in the region after the Liberation Army massacred at least 16 road construction workers in Nduga regency in December.

The Liberation Army had indicated it was willing to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

But Indonesia’s military spokesman, Colonel Muhammad Aidi, said this would be difficult.

“The aim of Indonesia’s Military is to preserve the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia. If the purpose of the “armed criminal group” is to be independent from Indonesia, surely the dialogue or negotiation will never be realised.”

Source: RadioNZ