Thousands of Papuans occupy governor’s office after rioting

Mackenzie SmithMackSmithNZmackenzie.smith@rnz.co.nz

Thousands of Papuans in Indonesia are occupying the governor’s office, a protest organiser says, after several government buildings were torched in the provincial capital Jayapura on Thursday.

Jayapura burning after protestors torched the Papuan provincial capital and other buildings, 29 August 2019
Jayapura burning after protestors torched the Papuan provincial capital and other buildings, 29 August 2019 Photo: Supplied

Security forces struggling to maintain stability during widespread protests across Papua – the biggest in decades in the region – have been boosted by hundreds of extra security forces flown in overnight. But protestors and Papuan leaders ahve said they were worried the occupation could end in bloodshed.

The unrest in Jayapura, which involved building fronts being smashed and the parliament and other government complexes set ablaze, is the latest in nearly two weeks of demonstrations that have rocked Papua.

Although protestors are focused on countering anti-Papuan racism by other Indonesians, they have also included calls for an independence referendum. The country’s top security minister has rejected the latter.

Witnesses and police said police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors on Thursday, according to one protestor and the Papuan online news outlet Tabloid Jubi. Around 5000 protestors remained camped outside Papua governor Lukas Enembe’s office on Friday, said Victor Yeimo, a spokesperson for the pro-independence West Papua National Committee.

“This is our land and we are not monkeys,” said Rosa Moiwend, a Papuan activist in Jayapura. Outrage at the labelling of Papuans as “monkeys” by some Indonesians has featured widely in protest symbolism.

The West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda.
West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda has called for UN intervention in Papua to avoid what he said could “turn into a bloodbath”. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Indonesia has struggled to contain protests which have galvanised huge numbers of Papuans and this week have quickly lapsed into violent rioting.

Six-hundred soldiers arrived in Jayapura on Thursday night, state media reported.

Activists said security forces had been heavy-handed and a heightened presence would only exacerbate discontent among Papuans.

The government has blocked internet across Papua for the past week in what it claims is a necessary anti-disinformation measure. Some phone lines have been disrupted too, including in Deiyai where at least two protestors and a soldier died in a clash on Wednesday.

Activists claim at least six protestors were shot dead by security forces, which the government has refuted.

“This is really something new,” said Hipolitus Wangge, an Indonesian researcher at the Marthinus Academy in Jakarta.

“Over 57 years, there is no such protest like this.”

He added that the protest movement had highlighted the government’s inability to address the concerns of Papuans.

Police have slapped travel bans on seven people who hurled racist insults at Papuan students earlier this month in the Javanese city of Surabaya, an incident viewed as the catalyst for the protests.

Protestors in Papua's capital Jayapura take to the streets to demonstrate, 30 August 2019
Protestors in Papua’s capital Jayapura take to the streets to demonstrate, 30 August 2019 Photo: Mona

President Joko Widodo appealed for calm and urged protestors to refrain from damaging public facilities, the state-news agency Antara reported.

“Let us keep Papua as a peaceful region, peaceful land.”

In a statement on Friday, the West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda called for international intervention, including from the UN, to avoid what he said could “turn into a bloodbath”.

“We cannot allow another Santa Cruz massacre to take place in West Papua,” he said in reference to the 1991 incident in occupied East Timor, where Indonesian soldiers shot dead at least 250 pro-independence demonstrators.

Source: RNZ

Surge in Papua violence prompts stronger stand from Pacific leaders

Jamie Tahana, RNZ Pacific Journalist@JamieTahanajamie.tahana@rnz.co.nz

As thousands of Papuans took to the streets for a second week of mass demonstrations, Pacific leaders have conceded that, to date, their stance on West Papua has achieved little.

The last 10 days have seen some of the largest public mobilisations in Indonesia’s easternmost regions for years, with tens of thousands taking to the streets across Papua and West Papua provinces.

Dozens have been arrested and there has been rioting in some areas, with the Parliament building in Manokwari razed. More than 1000 police and military personnel have been deployed to bolster an already significant military presence in the region.

On Wednesday, there were reports that up to six people were killed when the military opened fire on a rally in the Deiyai regency. At least three others were injured, and the military said one soldier had been killed. Indonesian police disputed those numbers, saying two civilians and one police officer were killed.

The recent surge of protests and violence has prompted a reckoning among Pacific leaders, who for years have considered the struggle in their neighbourhood, but done little as they stood divided over the extent of their support.

“Something more has got to be done because the human rights situation is worsening,” said Ralph Regenvanu, the foreign minister of Vanuatu, whose country has been the most ardent supporter of the West Papuan independence movement.

The western half of New Guinea has been the scene of a low-level independence conflict for decades, but in the past year, the human rights situation has deteriorated significantly.

Conflict between rebels and the military has raged in the Highlands regency of Nduga. At least 100 civilians have been killed, aid organisations said, and thousands more have been displaced as fighting moved from village to village. Many are now living in squalor in ramshackle refugee camps in the rugged and remote interior.

Pacific Council of Churches general secretary Reverend James Bhagwan who visited Papua earlier this year said the situation among indigenous Papuans was dire.

“The trauma that they are dealing with which is decades old just keeps compounding because they are marginalised, [and] they struggle for a sense of hope,” he said in an interview at this month’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in Tuvalu.

The general secretary of the Pacific Council of Churches, James Bhagwan.

The general secretary of the Pacific Council of Churches, James Bhagwan. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Mr Bhagwan was in Tuvalu representing the region’s community sector organisations and met with the presidents and prime ministers. For Mr Bhagwan, the deteriorating situation in West Papua was one of the most prescient issues.

West Papua has long been a festering sore for the Pacific’s leaders and has pitted countries who support Papuan independence – like Vanuatu – against Indonesia’s allies like Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

And with the forum’s need for consensus, that’s meant nothing has happened on the issue for decades.

“We know the stand of Fiji, of Australia. We know the influence that Indonesia has in the Pacific, but that’s not the issue,” Mr Bhagwan said.

“The issue is that people are suffering. We are Pacific people, and in the Pacific when someone is suffering you do something. You don’t let your Pacific brothers and sisters suffer, that’s not the Pacific way.”

Mr Regenvanu said the forum’s default stance on West Papua, which usually involves “noting” concerns about the human rights situation and little more, was becoming increasingly untenable.

But that stance appears to be shifting, if only slightly. In Tuvalu this month leaders, including prime ministers who have been reticent to wade into the debate, seemed to agree with Mr Regenvanu, their frustrations finally seeming to boil over.

The Tongan prime minister, 'Akilisi Pohiva, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu.

The Tongan prime minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

At the meeting with Mr Bhagwan and other community representatives, Tonga’s prime minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva delivered an emotional response.

“The case has been repeatedly raised and discussed and yet nothing happens,” Mr Pohiva told the meeting.

“We have become so dependent on other people to control our territory we have lost our sense of selves and self-reliance. Violence will continue to go on and on and on and look at us do nothing.

“We will continue to discuss the same problem over and over again while our brothers are left behind. We must make sure no one is left behind,” he said.

Samoa prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi added: “The challenges facing West Papuans have not reduced, and we cannot continue to ignore this issue … we need to review the positions we have taken up until now.”

What followed in the leaders’ communique was the strongest stand on Papua from the region’s leaders in years. They unanimously called for the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit West Papua within the next year to investigate.

The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Tuvalu.

The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Tuvalu. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

They “strongly encouraged” Jakarta to finalise a visit by the commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s office to investigate abuses including torture, extrajudicial killings, and systemic violence by the police and military, acknowledging the deterioration.

Plans for a visit by the commissioner’s office were finalised more than a year ago, but a visit has not yet happened, which has prompted a series of complaints from the UN and human rights groups. The Indonesian government insists a visit is still on the table, and discussions are ongoing.

The communique signed in Tuvalu also said the Pacific Islands Forum itself should push for the visit to be finalised, and that a report on the situation in West Papua should be submitted for consideration at next year’s forum, which will be held in Vanuatu.

Reflecting a shifting dynamic on the issue, Mr Regenvanu said this regional stance on West Papua had the support of all the region’s biggest countries – including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

“The onus is on the secretariat and the member states of PIF, including the members that are … on the human rights council, that they need to make sure the commissioner gets to go,” Mr Regenvanu said. (Australia and Fiji are the only Pacific countries on the UN Human Rights Council).

“Indonesia should see that there is a very clear concern and we hope that this statement will make them come to the table and make them work with the UN Human Rights Commissioner to make sure that mission does happen,” he said.

While a visit ultimately falls between the UN and Indonesia, which regards West Papua as a purely internal matter, a unified position from the Pacific – where Indonesia is trying to gain more influence – is a significant development, one that longtime West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda welcomed.

The West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda.

The West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

“We feel that this is a starting point,” said Mr Wenda. “We are fighting for a very long time to recognise the human rights violations in West Papua. This is the first time the leaders have agreed and support[ed] the Vanuatu proposal.”

But ultimately, like the thousands of West Papuans taking to the streets of Jayapura, Wamena, Manokwari and other places, Mr Wenda wants an independence referendum.

That’s unlikely, though, and the Pacific backing refused to go that far. While calling for action on human rights abuses in West Papua, the Pacific Islands Forum communique still affirmed Indonesia’s sovereignty over the region.

Protests throughout the Papuan region in Indonesia have been roiling after racist videos circulated. Photograph: Bagus Indahono/EPA
Protests throughout the Papuan region in Indonesia have been roiling after racist videos circulated. Photograph: Bagus Indahono/EPA

At least one Indonesian soldier and six civilians have been reportedly killed in the restive region.

Up to six protesters and one soldier have been killed in clashes across the restive West Papua and Papua provinces, although protesters and police dispute how many have died.

A source at one protest in the Deiyai Regency told The Guardian on Thursday that police had fired lived rounds into a crowd of demonstrators outside the regency offices on Wednesday. Six people were killed and two seriously injured, the source, who requested anonymity fearing reprisals, said. “Shots were fired at the protesters, but people continued to sit in protest,” the source added.

Al Jazeera also reported that six protesters had been killed.

However, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said the protest by about 150 people at the Deiyai district chief’s office turned violent when more than a thousand others tried to storm the building with arrows and machetes.

Prasetyo dismissed reports of six protesters being killed as “a provocation”, but said one soldier had been killed and three police officers injured in clashes. “Security forces are trying to control the security in the area,” he said.

Papua military spokesman Eko Daryanto said in a statement that security forces managed to restore order and found two protesters had been injured, one with an arrow piercing his stomach and the other shot in the leg. Both died at a nearby hospital. A soldier died at the scene and five police and military personnel were injured, mostly by arrows.

A number of violent protests have roiled Papua since last week, triggered by videos circulated on the internet showing security forces calling Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs” in East Java’s Surabaya city. Students say they are regularly subjected to racist slurs and abuse.

A group of 50 Papuan students in the capital, Jakarta, staged a second protest on Wednesday and called for independence for Papua, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.

Late on Thursday Prasetyo said that protesters had set fire to a local government building in Abepura town.

Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot that was seen as a sham by many. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region, which is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua. Jakarta maintains Papua and West Papua are in integral and indivisible parts of the Indonesian state.

In recent years, some Papua students, including some who study in other provinces, have become vocal in calling for self-determination for their region. Protestors told The Guardian they are demanding the UN be allowed to visit the province immediately – a fact-finding mission has been agreed to by Jakarta but has not eventuated – in order to report on alleged human rights abuses. Protestors say local and provincial government officials are unrepresentative, describing them as puppets of the Jakarta administration.

Protests in several cities in Papua and West Papua provinces have turned violent over the past week, but Prasetyo said the situation is now under control and activities have returned to normal in recent days. Students have marched in the capital Jakarta, and in West Papua’s largest city Sorong, waving the Morning Star flag, representative of the Free West Papua movement.

Embedded video

Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, who is exiled from Indonesia, said racist discrimination against Papuans in Indonesia had fuelled Papuan desire for independence.

“Now my people are launching a second wave of demonstrations and the time has come for us to reclaim our country.”

The Indonesian government has blocked internet access in the region since last week to “accelerate the process of restoring security and order in Papua and its surrounding areas,” he said.

Verifying news from Papua and West Papua has been made difficult by the internet shutdown.

Source: The Guardian

Surge in Papua violence prompts stronger stand from Pacific leaders
Jamie Tahana

Jamie Tahana, RNZ Pacific Journalist@JamieTahanajamie.tahana@rnz.co.nz

As thousands of Papuans took to the streets for a second week of mass demonstrations, Pacific leaders have conceded that, to date, their stance on West Papua has achieved little.

The last ten days has seen some of the largest public mobilisations in Indonesia’s easternmost regions for years, with tens of thousands taking to the streets across Papua and West Papua provinces.

Protesters march in Jayapura.

Protesters march in Jayapura. Photo: Whens TebayLeaders admit their stance has achieved little in West Papua duration4′ :55″from Dateline PacificAdd to playlistDownload

Leaders admit their stance has achieved little in West Papua

Dozens have been arrested and there has been rioting in some areas, with the parliament building in Manokwari razed. More than a thousand police and military personnel have been deployed to bolster an already significant military presence in the region.

On Wednesday, there were reports that up to six people were killed when the military opened fire on a rally in the Deiyai regency. At least three others were injured, and the military said one soldier had been killed. Indonesian police disputed those numbers, saying two civilians and one police officer were killed.

Protesters burned tyres during demonstrations in Manokwari on 19 August, 2019.
Protesters burned tyres during demonstrations in Manokwari on 19 August, 2019. Photo: Ucu Sawaki

The recent surge of protests and violence has prompted a reckoning among Pacific leaders, who for years have considered the struggle in their neighbourhood, but done little as they stood divided over the extent of their support.

“Something more has got to be done because the human rights situation is worsening,” said Ralph Regenvanu, the foreign minister of Vanuatu, whose country has been the most ardent supporter of the West Papuan independence movement.

The western half of New Guinea has been the scene of a low-level independence conflict for decades, but in the past year, the human rights situation has deteriorated significantly.

Conflict between rebels and the military has raged in the Highlands regency of Nduga. At least 100 civilians have been killed, aid organisations said, and thousands more have been displaced as fighting moved from village to village. Many are now living in squalor in ramshackle refugee camps in the rugged and remote interior.

The general secretary of the Pacific Council of Churches, Reverend James Bhagwan, who visited Papua earlier this year, said the situation among indigenous Papuans was dire.

“The trauma that they are dealing with which is decades old just keeps compounding because they are marginalised, [and] they struggle for a sense of hope,” he said in an interview at this month’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in Tuvalu.

The general secretary of the Pacific Council of Churches, James Bhagwan.
The general secretary of the Pacific Council of Churches, James Bhagwan. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Mr Bhagwan was in Tuvalu representing the region’s community sector organisations, and met with the presidents and prime ministers. For Mr Bhagwan, the deteriorating situation in West Papua was one of the most prescient issues.

West Papua has long been a festering sore for the Pacific’s leaders, and has pitted countries who support Papuan independence – like Vanuatu – against Indonesia’s allies like Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

And with the forum’s need for consensus, that’s meant nothing has happened on the issue for decades.

“We know the stand of Fiji, of Australia. We know the influence that Indonesia has in the Pacific, but that’s not the issue,” said Mr Bhagwan. “The issue is that people are suffering. We are Pacific people, and in the Pacific when someone is suffering you do something. You don’t let your Pacific brothers and sisters suffer, that’s not the Pacific way.”

Mr Regenvanu said the forum’s default stance on West Papua, which usually involves “noting” concerns about the human rights situation and little more, was becoming increasingly untenable.

But that stance appears to be shifting, if only slightly. In Tuvalu this month leaders, including prime ministers who have been reticent to wade into the debate, seemed to agree with Mr Regenvanu, their frustrations finally seeming to boil over.

The Tongan prime minister, 'Akilisi Pohiva, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu.
The Tongan prime minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

At the meeting with Mr Bhagwan and other community representatives, Tonga’s prime minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, delivered an emotional response.

“The case has been repeatedly raised and discussed and yet nothing happens,” Mr Pohiva told the meeting. “We have become so dependent on other people to control our territory we have lost our sense of selves and self-reliance. Violence will continue to go on and on and on and look at us do nothing.

“We will continue to discuss the same problem over and over again while our brothers are left behind. We must make sure no one is left behind,” he said.

The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, added: “The challenges facing West Papuans have not reduced, and we cannot continue to ignore this issue … We need to review the positions we have taken up until now.”

What followed in the leaders’ communique was the strongest stand on Papua from the region’s leaders in years. They unanimously called for the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit West Papua within the next year to investigate.

The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Tuvalu.
The prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Tuvalu. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

They “strongly encouraged” Jakarta to finalise a visit by the commissioner, Michelle Bachelet’s, office to investigate abuses including torture, extrajudicial killings, and systemic violence by the police and military, acknowledging the deterioration.

Plans for a visit by the commissioner’s office were finalised more than a year ago, but a visit has not yet happened, which has prompted a series of complaints from the UN and human rights groups. The Indonesian government insists a visit is still on the table, and discussions are ongoing.

The communique signed in Tuvalu also said the Pacific Islands Forum itself should push for the visit to be finalised, and that a report on the situation in West Papua should be submitted for consideration at next year’s forum, which will be held in Vanuatu.

Reflecting a shifting dynamic on the issue, Mr Regenvanu said this regional stance on West Papua had the support of all the region’s biggest countries – including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

“The onus is on the secretariat and the member states of PIF, including the members that are… on the human rights council, that they need to make sure the commissioner gets to go,” Mr Regenvanu said. (Australia and Fiji are the only Pacific countries on the UN Human Rights Council).

“Indonesia should see that there is a very clear concern and we hope that this statement will make them come to the table and make them work with the UN Human Rights Commissioner to make sure that mission does happen,” he said.

While a visit ultimately falls between the UN and Indonesia, which regards West Papua as a purely internal matter, a unified position from the Pacific – where Indonesia is trying to gain more influence – is a significant development, one that longtime West Papuan indpendence campaigner, Benny Wenda, welcomed.

The West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda.
The West Papuan independence campaigner Benny Wenda. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

“We feel that this is a starting point,” said Mr Wenda. “We are fighting for a very long time to recognise the human rights violations in West Papua. This is the first time the leaders have agreed and support[ed] the Vanuatu proposal.”

But ultimately, like the thousands of West Papuans taking to the streets of Jayapura, Wamena, Manokwari and other places, Mr Wenda wants an independence referendum.

That’s unlikely, though, and the Pacific backing refused to go that far. While calling for action on human rights abuses in West Papua, the Pacific Islands Forum communique still affirmed Indonesia’s sovereignty over the region.

Source: RNZ

Indonesian President Joko Widodo says he’s willing to meet West Papua leaders this week to discuss their demands for an independence referendum.

The offer comes as protests in West Papua enter a second week, with calls for the United Nations to investigate the deteriorating situation.

The Indonesian Government has blocked internet access to West Papua and deployed more than 1,000 troops to the province.

Warnings of an Indonesian crackdown come just weeks before Joko Widodo is inaugurated as president for a second term.

Guest: Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher, Human Rights Watch, and author of Race, Islam and Power: Ethnic and Religious Violence in Post-Suharto Indonesia

Source: ABC Net

Indonesians supporting pro-independence West Papuan protests, human rights lawyer says

By Catherine Graue on Pacific BeatShare

Download Indonesia: Lawyer says Indonesian people supporting West Papua protests (2.67 MB)

Thousands of people are continuing to demonstrate across Indonesia’s most eastern provinces of West Papua and Papua, in what has become the largest protests in the restive region in years.

The Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman says what began on August 17, as a protest over perceived ethnic discrimination and racism, has clearly become a rallying call for a new referendum on independence for the region of West Papua.

She says that for the first time, Indonesians too are throwing their support behind the demands, and that pressure is mounting on the Indonesian Government to respond.

It has responded by deploying more than 1000 police officers to the region that already has a heavy military presence.

The Government says its block on the internet will remain in place for another week because it argues the measure aims to protect people from ‘fake news’.

Benny Wenda, the Chairman of the umbrella group, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, told the ABC that he fears the internet has been blocked because Indonesia has something to hide.

“We know there’s a lot of military [being] deployed and I’m worried, I don’t want that this happen like East Timor, 25 years ago and the Santa Cruz massacre, and that is a little bit worried”.

At least 250 East Timorese pro-indepdnence demonstrators died in November 1991, when Indonesian soldiers fired into a crowd of independence protesters holding a memorial procession for Sebastio Gomez, a young East Timorese man.

The Santa Cruz massacre was a turning point in the history of Timor Leste, as it put the occupation of the former Portuguese colony into world attention, prompting more international support for the cause — and this Friday marks 20 years since the people there voted in a referendum on independence.

Despite the government blocking the internet in large parts of the two Papua provinces, some videos and photos are getting out.

Lawyer Veronica Koman has been sharing some on Twitter, which show thousands of Papuans, some in traditional clothes, marching through the streets and performing the traditional Papuan ‘waita’ dance.

In some of the videos, protesters are flying West Papua Morning Star flags, which are banned.Duration: 5min 50secBroadcast: Wed 28 Aug 2019, 6:00am

Source: ABCnet

Churches condemn Indonesia

STATEMENT ON RECENT “INSTITUTIONAL RACISM” TOWARDS WEST PAPUANS

August 22, 2019

PORT MORESBY

The Pacific Conference of Churches, with the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches, strongly condemns the institutional racism against the indigenous people of West (Tanah) Papua that has led to

violent attacks against Papuan Students in Surabaya and protests in Manokwari and Jayapura and led to an increase of Indonesian militarisation in Papua.

PCC General Secretary, Rev. James Bhagwan and PNGCC General Secretary, Rev. Roger Joseph who both visited West Papua as part of a World Council of Churches delegation earlier this year, said that this latest example of

oppression of Papuan people underlined the need for an urgent investigation of ongoing abuse of

Human Rights, the Economic, Social and Cultural and Political rights of West Papuans, by the United Nations.

“We are meeting in Papua New Guinea to discuss Self-Determination in terms of ecological development framework that weaves our faith, traditional values, knowledge and wisdom for the wellbeing of Papua New Guinea and also the Pacific,” said Rev. Joseph, “and our brothers and sisters in West Papua, which is part of this land and who part of our people are struggling to have basic human dignity respected.”

“In the context of last week’s Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Meeting, this example of institutional racism against the people of West Papua, further illustrates the concerns raised about the deteriorating situation in West Papua during the Civil Society – Leaders’ Dialogue,” said Rev. Bhagwan. 

“In the context of Pacific Regionalism or the Pacific Family, to call our Melanesian sisters and brothers in West Papua ‘Monkeys’ is to call all Pacific Islanders ‘Monkeys’. “

“PCC and PNGCC both recognise, that the incident in Surabaya included elements of the state apparatus and there is yet to be a formal apology from the state to both Indonesian citizens who are Papuans as well as indigenous people of neighbouring Papua New Guinea.”

“The resulting mobilisation of 1000 more soldiers of the Indonesian Army to Papua, rather than a civil response, gives cause to wonder if this was the intended result,” said Bhagwan.

“Given this week’s release of a combined report by Papuan local human rights NGOs, churches and the Nduga Regency administration on conflicts between Indonesian Military and armed indigenous groups in the Nduga region found that close to 200 Papuans, mostly women and children had either been killed or died fleeing the conflict and with 45,000 currently displaced as a result of the conflicts, how much longer are our Papuan sisters, mothers, daughters, brothers, fathers and sons going to suffer until the Pacific leaders, the UN and the world do something meaningful to address the ongoing structural violence and institutional racism by Indonesia, which is currently a member of the UN Security Council and is vying to become a member of the UN Rights Council.”

“We call on Indonesia to immediately allow access to Papua by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN mandate holders. We call on those Pacific Island countries with relations with Indonesia to leverage their relationships to make this happen now.”

“We call on all member churches of PCC and PNGCC to pray for our sisters and brothers in Papua and also for people of Indonesia for a just peace to this ongoing crisis.”

The Pacific Conference of Churches observes every Wednesday as a day of prayer for West Papua and has asked member churches to observe Sunday 15 December as Freedom Sunday for those Pacific

Territories listed for decolonisation or currently experiencing oppression and ongoing colonisation.

Source: https://pacificconferenceofchurches.org/

More protests in Papuan regencies
West Papuans protest against racism in Wamena, August 2019. Photo: Supplied
West Papuans protest against racism in Wamena, August 2019. Photo: Supplied

West Papuans continue to mobilise to protest against racism, with rallies being held today in several regencies of Papua.

Large protests kicked off in the Indonesia-ruled region last week in response to harassment of Papuan students in Javanese cities.

Despite an internet blackout enforced by Indonesia’s government in much of Papua, people are mobilising today in regencies including Nabire, Dogiyai and Yahukimo.

A large demonstration has also been held in the Highlands city of Wamena.

While dozens of protests took place last week, several turned violent.

Indonesia has deployed a thousand extra military and police personnel to Papua in response to the mobilisations.

Source: RNZ


West Papua rebel shot dead as protests continue
Indonesian police respond to large anti-racism protests, Jayapura, 19 August 2019 Photo: Whens Tebay
Indonesian police respond to large anti-racism protests, Jayapura, 19 August 2019 Photo: Whens Tebay

A police spokesperson said the death came during a gunfire exchange in Wamena on Friday, which also injured an officer and a civilian.

Meanwhile, two people were arrested for looting in Manokwari, the provincial capital where the parliament building was set ablaze last week.

A third person was arrested in the city for setting fire to an Indonesian flag.

Source: RNZ

PNG Governor warns Indonesian president Widodo over West Papua
PNG Governor warns Indonesian president Widodo over West Papua
PNG Governor warns Indonesian president Widodo over West Papua

Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop has strongly called on the President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo not to take Papuans for granted.

Parkop says today that if President Joko Widodo won’t take heed of what our people are asking him to peacefully solve the issue, East and West Papuans are going to stand united and nothing is going to stop them.

Powes Parkop has long been a supporter of the Papuan call for recognition as an independent state.

Governor Parkop says mobilization of Papuans has started because we are not taking this ill treatment anymore and alerts President Widodo that if he will take Papuans for granted he is to expect something more to come.

“I want to have peace with you (Widodo) because you are my neighbor, I want to exchange with you, I want to interact with you and build relationship. We don’t want to live with hate, discrimination, and in division”, Parkop said.

Parkop says as much as Papuans want to share their wealth and resources with Indonesia, but there is so much hate now because of the killings, rape and torture of Papuan people.

Port Moresby residents, churches, and few parliament leaders stand in solidarity and marched today from Kone field to Jack Pidik Park with some West Papuans after reports of an incident in Surabaya last week where Papuan students were harassed by a mob and later arrested.

The students were released, but the government response to the harassment, and lack of an apology to Papuans, has met with criticism in the Pacific Islands.

Governor Parkop’s call is supported by Northern Governor Gary Juffa, and Vice Petroleum Minister and Komo Magarima MP Manasseh Makiba.

Meanwhile Radio New Zealand reports Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo says he will invite prominent Papuans to his palace in the wake of the recent violence there.

The president’s office says an invitation will go out to traditional, community, and religious leaders.

Jokowi says the meeting will discuss ways to accelerate prosperity in Papua and West Papua provinces.

FM100/PNG Today