A VISIT by the Morobe Disaster Office workers and officials over the weekend confirmed that some islands in Siassi are in need of relief assistance.
The islands of Malai, Aramot and Tuam after strong monsoon winds are facing shortages of water, food and other basic items.
Tami Island in Finschhafen district also faces similar problems.
The islands of Malai and Tuam, being the outer most lying islands, experienced strong winds and are now experiencing soil erosion as the sea level rises.
Tuam Island ward 13 councillor Robert Michael said that as the population increased, people could not go anywhere.
“During the winds that started over a month ago, all our gardens were destroyed. Breadfruit trees have been blown down, banana patches destroyed and with the prolonged dry season, our water source is running out,”
He said Tuam Island also experienced reef fish dying during dry periods. “People started getting those fish to eat but we advised them not to as we do not know what caused these fish to die,” he said.
Tuam Island has more than 400 people with 150 households. The Tuam Primary School is also affected.
The ward 12 councillor on Malai Island, Peter Kamaru, said his people were facing possible food and water shortages.
“As the population increased, land availability is scarce. With the dry season experienced now, people have no choice,” Kamaru said.
He said help from government authorities came only once in many years so they did not really see any assistance.
Kamaru said people needed clean water.
He said the strong winds sprayed saltwater over their garden crops such as tapioca, taro and vegetables.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Earlier this week, a petition signed by more than 1.8 million people calling for an independence referendum in Indonesia’s West Papua province was delivered to United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.
Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), said he hoped the UN would send a fact-finding mission to the province to substantiate allegations of human rights violations.
“Today is a historic day for me and for my people,” Mr Wenda said after the meeting in Geneva.
Local media reported Indonesia’s Minister for Defence, Ryamizard Ryacudu, told Parliament: “[They’re] not allowed independence. Full stop.”
The embattled Indonesian province has had a decades-long independence struggle, with its identity torn between several conflicting stakeholders.
Here’s a look at where West Papua is, the problems it faces, and how things might turn out in the future.
West Papua and Papua New Guinea … what’s the difference?
West Papua and Papua, often referred to collectively as West Papua, are the easternmost provinces of Indonesia and their acquisition has been the cause of controversy for more than 60 years.
West Papua shares its borders and cultural ethnicity with Papua New Guinea, but while PNG was colonised by the British, prior to German and Australian administration, West Papua was colonised by the Dutch, setting it on a different course.
According to the Indonesian Centre of Statistics and the World Bank, West Papua’s regional GDP per capita is significantly higher than the national average, mainly due to mining.
However, it is also the most impoverished region in the country with the highest mortality rates in children and expectant mothers, as well as the poorest literacy rates.
What is happening now and what is the history?
Control of West Papua was agreed to be transferred to Indonesia from the Dutch with the assistance of the United States government as a part of a US Cold War strategy to distance Indonesia from Soviet influence in 1962.
The Netherlands and Indonesia signed the New York Agreement, which would place Indonesia under UN Temporary Executive Authority until a referendum that would allow all adult West Papuans to decide on the fate of their independence, called the Act of Free Choice.
But in 1967, the Indonesian government signed a 30-year lease with US gold and copper mining company Freeport-McMoran to start mining in the resource-rich region, prior to the referendum.
Two years later, according to historians, a number of men were handpicked to vote under the monitor of the Indonesian military and voted unanimously to remain under Indonesian rule. It has since been dubbed the “Act of No Choice” by activists.View image on Twitter
Indonesia and its representatives at the UN have since repeatedly rejected claims of human rights abuses in the region and demands for another referendum, saying the allegations have been spread by “Papuan separatist movements”.
On Monday, the Indonesian military said separatists opened fire on an aircraft carrying military personal and local goverment officials, killing one soldier.
But verifying any information is difficult because of restrictions on press freedom and the remoteness of the location.
In 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced he would open the region to foreign journalists following decades of media blockades and bureaucratic red tape, but a series of statements by foreign journalists suggests otherwise.
‘Cultural genocide’ or separatist exaggeration?
A 2004 report from Yale Law School said the Indonesian government had “acted with necessary intent to … perpetrate genocide against the people of West Papua”, a claim the Indonesian government has strongly denied.
Activists have been imprisoned for displaying the West Papuan pro-independence Morning Star flag, and say they face discrimination and are subject to violent attacks for expressions of political views.
There have also been a number of military crackdowns that have been referred to by Human Rights Watch as “high priority” human rights abuse cases.
The number of insurgencies in the region has declined as the Papuan indigenous population halved due to government policies of transmigration.
The late West Papuan academic and activist John Otto Ondawame described the situation as “cultural genocide”.
Transmigration refers to the government resettling Indonesians from high-population regions to low-population areas, which was formally ended by Mr Widodo in 2015.
The program was deemed controversial by analysts as it involved permanently moving people from densely populated areas of Java to sparsely population regions such as Papua.
It has been criticised as causing fears of the “Javanisation”, or “Islamisation” of Papua, resulting in strengthened separatist movements and violence in the region.
The MSG Secretariat met with the Vanuatu Football Federation General Secretary Mr. Albert Manaroto as part of the wider consultations with the MSG members on Sports Corporation as mandated by the leaders.
The consultation was convened following a decision made during the 6th MSG Sports Council (MSC) meeting held in Kimbe, New West Britain, Papua New Guinea in September 12 – 14 last year 2018 directing the MSG Secretariat to support the revival of the Melanesian Soccer Cup.
During the consultation on Friday 8th February 2019 the Vanuatu Football Federation confirmed their strong support on the concept paper presented by the PNG sports team in the 6th MSC meeting in Kimbe. General Secretary VFF, Mr. Albert mentioned that, MSG has a large youth population and therefore it is in the best interest of MSG to recognize the need to establish sustainable sporting initiatives such as Football, Netball and other discipline to enhance the corporation and benefits to our people and communities.
Hosting such a tournament will contribute to the national economy of our member countries through strategic partnerships with national governments, private sectors and the wider communities.
The Director General of the MSG Secretariat, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, while congratulating the Vanuatu Football Federation for their support reiterated the importance of sports as a development tool for our people and countries of Melanesia.
Ambassador Yauvoli, emphasized that the core purpose of this tournament is to strengthen our Melanesian cooperation and to enable both our men and women to come together in sport, build people to people relationships, strengthening Melanesian cultural values and provide integral human development for our people.
The MSG Secretariat will continue consultations with the rest of the National Football Federations in all MSG member countries to solidify the support for the proposed revival of the Melanesian Soccer Cup.
Calls for the West Papua region to be granted independence continued this week as activists took to the streets in various Australian cities, calling for the Federal government to support an independence referendum.
Melanesians who call the region home have been pushing for independence for decades.
A referendum was held in July 1969, overseen by the United Nations.
It was called the Act of Free Choice but it has been heavily criticised.
Hugh Lunn, an Australian journalist who was on the ground reporting for the Reuters news agency during the 1969 referendum, is among those critics.
“I thought it would be a vote. What a fool I was. Under the UN, it was note a vote. They specially selected 1025 people, in the eight provincial capitals and told them they had to make the decision,” Mr Lunn told Pacific Beat.
“They all voted for staying part of Indonesia, but as I was walking through the fair, people stuck letters under my arm, one of them was addressed to the ‘nicest man in Merauke’, and they said ‘this is all a farce, we’re scared to say anything, no one knows what to do'”.
The West Papua region is actually two provinces, Papua and West Papua, that make up the western half on New Guinea island, and has previously also been known as Irian Jaya.
It officially became part of Indonesia after that vote, and since then, there have been continuous reports of violent crackdowns and human rights abuses committed by Indonesian authorities, particularly its military, against pro-independence supporters.
The Indonesian government says it has been paying special attention to the human rights issues.
Since coming to power in 2014, President Joko Widodo has made economic and infrastructure development a priority, which is something experts like Cahyo Pamungkas say is important to help stem the conflict.
He is a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, and has conducted extensive field research on West Papua.
But he says that economic and infrastructure development won’t resolve the violence, because there are still limited benefits to the Melanesian population.
Mr Pamungkas and his colleagues recently visited the Indonesian Presidential office to deliver their recommendations on how best to approach the issue of West Papua, ahead of the national election in April.
“The government should cancel the military operations, or withdraw the troops and police from the central mountains, because it increases the potency for human right abuse. There is no other option,”
he said.Duration: 5min 2secBroadcast: Fri 15 Feb 2019, 7:00am
On January 25, I, as chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), led by the courage and spirit of the people of West Papua, delivered a historic petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in Geneva.
This petition carried the voice of 1.8 million West Papuans, who faced arrest, imprisonment and torture to sign it. Never in history has a petition signed by 70% of a country’s population made it to such a high level of the UN. West Papua spoke to the world united behind their right to self-determination and call for a referendum on independence from Indonesia.
Since then, the Indonesian occupation has desperately tried to crush the spirit of the West Papuan people through arrests, intimidation and repression. This is how the colonisers react when we peacefully exercise our rights, when we sign petitions or demonstrate.
Just this month, Papuans in Timika and Jayapura gathered to thank the Vanuatu government for their support during the meeting with the UN High Commissioner.
They peacefully assembled, put up a banner and released a political statement. In Jayapura, they held a peaceful prayer meeting.
The assembled Papuans were met with harassment and scare tactics. The Indonesian security services tried to stop the gathering, and have been chasing down anyone involved with the committee which organised the petition.
On January 15, the office of the ULMWP’s Political Bureau was raided by Indonesian police, military and intelligence. Ten people were arrested. Four people are still being detained.
Recently the offices of the KNPB were raided and six activists arrested. Three of them, all associated with the petition, continue to be imprisoned.
On Tuesday February 5, the West Papua Action Committee held a gathering. The Indonesian police forcibly broke up the meeting, chasing those who fled.
The actions of the West Papuan people are peaceful and democratic. We do not hide our demands, or our desires for freedom. Indonesia presents itself as a democracy to the world. Would a genuine democracy jail people for signing a petition? Would a true democracy arrest people for peacefully gathering? Would a legitimate democracy deploy chemical weapons against civilians?
This is the reality of the illegal Indonesian occupation of West Papua. I know that Indonesia’s actions aim to terrorise the West Papuan population, to systematically destroy our spirit and unity.
The Indonesian police and military want to stop people from even holding a demonstration, from even signing a petition. Indonesia knows that these are our tools for telling the world about what happened in 1969. Indonesia may try to scare us West Papuans, but Indonesia is the one who is afraid: afraid that we will expose their sham ‘Act of Free Choice’, and expose the illegitimacy of their entire claim to West Papua.
Papuans are still hiding in the bush of Nduga, having fled the bombs and chemicals of the Indonesian military. Now 350 children are hiding in Jayawijaya as a result of Indonesian attacks. Papuan activists are still in prison. Our people are still not free.
On behalf of my people, and on behalf of those Papuans who have were chased and harassed by the Indonesian police for putting up a banner, I want to thank the people and Government of Vanuatu for their support and bravery in facilitating the meeting with the High Commissioner.
The demands in the petition are the West Papuan people’s demands, they’re not Benny Wenda’s personal demands or demands made up by the ULMWP. They are demands made by the West Papuan people to the UN to correct what happened in 1969, to correct this stain on the UN’s history by holding a referendum on independence.
The Indonesian government must immediately grant full and unrestricted access to West Papua for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Indonesia must allow the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons into the Nduga Regency to investigate the chemical weapons use. Indonesia must lift its repressive restrictions on international journalists and allow them to show the world what happens in West Papua.
These are simple demands, which the Indonesian State could easily fulfil. Why, then, does it not? What is Indonesia afraid of?
Indonesia fears that giving the world access to West Papua will allow our demands for merdeka, for self-determination and independence, to ring forth. Indonesia knows that we will not stop struggling for a referendum, a vote, on independence. It is time Indonesia hears our call, and allows us to decide our own destiny.
Daily Post – Vanuatu has always been very principled in its approach to West Papua, in the issue of self-determination of any country, particularly in our own region, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor said.
She says the approach by Vanuatu is a very admirable position to take.
Dame Taylor says some of the countries don’t come out as strongly as Vanuatu.
“There are countries that have different views on this but they have come together with a collective decision.
“In all their communiques they (Forum Leaders) have expressed their concerns about human rights issues until last year.
“Last year they instructed the secretariat to keep a more proactive engagement with Indonesia,” she stated in an interview with Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM.
Dame Taylor said last year Prime Minister O’neil addressed the University of the South Pacific and raised human rights issue and has been supportive of UN Human Rights Commission Mission to go into West Papua.
“I myself as SG met with Human Rights Commissioner last year when they came through the Pacific after they visited Jakarta, we raised the issue as well that, that is what we want to see.
“From the Secretariat itself what we have done over the last two years is we’ve gone into West Papua and Papua provinces to observe the elections there to see indigenous West Papuan people participate in those processes.
“Our reports are written and are sent out to member states.
“The situation of West Papua in the last couple of weeks has been desperate.
“People have died. People from Java and other provinces but most of all people of Melanesian decent, there have been tragedies there.
“I understand Indonesian Government has asked for the UN Mission to go in.
“Pacific countries should be on that (UN) mission,” Dame Taylor said.
Three activists from the Indigenous communities of Okinawa, Guam, and Hawai’i will be speaking in Seattle later this month about efforts to remove U.S. military bases from the native lands in the Pacific.
Tina Grandinetti, Kisha Borja-Quichocho Calvo and Ruth Aloua are visiting several Pacific Northwest cities for the “Oceania Rising: Peace Pivot to the Pacific” speaking tour. The Seattle event is at El Centro De La Raza in Beacon Hill from 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 21. The tour includes events in Port Townsend, Olympia and Portland.
The three speakers are members of Women’s Voices Women Speak, a Hawai’i-based organization that focuses on demilitarization, peace and nonviolence.
The U.S. military bases take up land, create radioactive contamination, desecrate sacred Indigenous sites and pose security threats to the islands themselves, said Zoltan Grossman, a faculty member in geography and Native studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
Tina Grandinetti is a PhD candidate at RMIT University in Australia and a 2017 member of the WVWS delegation to the International Women’s Network Against Militarism gathering. Originally from Hawaii, she is biracial Uchinanchu and she is focused on the solidarity against imperialism.
Kisha Borja-Quichocho Calvo is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Hawaii – Manoa. She is Chamoru and has worked to curb the military buildup in Guam.
Ruth Aloua, a Kanaka Maoli from the Kona District in Hawai’i, is an advocate for nonviolence between people and the environment.
Grossman said activists in the movement also hope to raise awareness of the effects of the military bases in Washington state, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The bases are a part of the larger pivot in U.S. military strategy from Europe to Asia, Grossman said.
“Few residents are aware of these concerns,” Grossman wrote in an email. “Nor are we aware how the military presence prevents colonized Indigenous peoples from exercising self-determination.”
Much of the U.S. government’s land in Guam are over or adjacent to the northern aquifer, Guam’s major source for portable water. Despite federal protection, many wells were shut down due to chemical contamination, according to the think tank Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability. U.S. nuclear and weapons material have been historically stored in Guam since the World War II. The material poses dangers to both human health and the environment, Nautilus reported.
The military has also not made a significant effort to locate unexploded munitions that litter the island, which poses significant safety threats to residents of the island, according to Nautilus. These munitions are most commonly discovered during civilian construction work. Additionally, the U.S. military, rather than transfer inactive property back to former landowners, frequently transfers these bases to other federal agencies.
The event is to raise public awareness rather than raise funds, although they will be accepting funds to offset speakers’ travel expenses.
“Oceania Rising” will be in Olympia on Feb. 19 and in Portland on Feb. 20.
Update: This story has been updated to remove the reference to a Whidbey Island stop. While Whidbey Island is referenced on the event’s Facebook page, but the main page does not list it.
The Ambassador of France to Vanuatu, Mr. Robby Judes paid a courtesy visit to the Vatu Mauri Consortium, Vanuatu Human Rights Coalition and Vanuatu Young Women For Change (VYWC) on Monday, February 4, 2019.
The Executive Board and members of the three Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) gladly received the French Ambassador. The chiefs, women leaders and Youth leaders showed their appreciation by warmly welcoming Ambassador Judes with fresh salusalus, a mat and calicos.
In his remarks, Ambassador Judes said he is interested in the work of Women and Human Rights.
In his remarks, Ambassador Judes said he is interested in the work of Women and Human Rights.
During the discussions, Ms. Anne Pakoa Acting CEO of the Vatu Mauri Consortium and CEO of the Vanuatu Human Rights Coalition and Technical Advisor for the VYWC briefed Ambassador Judes of the different programs and activities each of these organisations work on which includes the upcoming manioc project for the Tokoshefate Farmers Association, the Rights of victims of displaced people and communities and the VYWC ‘Storian Insaed Long Nakamal Project’ which is a project led by VYWC and over 18 chiefs to ensure women representation in the National Parliament in 2020.
During the discussions, Mr Joe Kalo, CEO of the Vanuatu National Youths Council (VNYC) raised the importance of VNYC taking lead on the celebration of La Francophone activities while Mrs Alice Kaloran, President of Tongoa Shepherds Women Association spoke about the work they do on empowering women economically.
Ambassador Judes said he is looking forward to a concept note to be provided to him by Ms Pakoa which should incorporate current programmes and activities of these NGOs.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, is visiting Vanuatu this week.
Dame Taylor says her visit to Vanuatu is to consult with various arms of the Vanuatu Government as well as speak at a symposium at the University of the South Pacific about China in the Pacific.
“I’ve had meetings with both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
“I’ve also sat down with key government officials to look at key issues that are of concern to them.
“This for us is a way of getting and understanding of what is the thinking of people in the region.
“We’ve also had a team here with us to looking at the governance arrangements and the functional aspects of the Pacific Resilience Facility.
“This is a Fund that the Finance Ministers want set up and it has been endorsed by the Leaders.
“That is to raise a substantial amount of money that we would, as countries, as private sector and also communities to be able to utilize to ensure that we are investing in infrastructure that will be able to withstand climatic impacts.
“Also to refit old infrastructure,” she told Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM.
Dame Taylor says Vanuatu is important in such conversation because after Cyclone Pam 64% of the GDP of this country was lost.
“That cannot happen again.
“We have to make sure that we find instruments so that Vanuatu protects itself and takes action for itself,” the Forum Secretariat SG said.
The Forum SG says she is also here because she has been invited to speak at a symposium on China in the Pacific at the University of the South Pacific’s Emalus Campus today.
“For us it is very important because of a number of our member states that recognize the People’s Republic of China.
“The challenges, opportunities- so I’ll be addressing that tomorrow (today) morning at the University of the South Pacific.”