Urgent Action on Torture & Attempt to Kill One Melanesian from West Papuan in Vanimo, Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea
West Papua Refugee Relief Association (WPRRA)
West Papua Refugee Relief Association (WPRRA)

An Open Letter

To: Honourable James Marape, MP,
The Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby,
PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Subject:

Urgent Action on Torture & Attempt to Kill One Melanesian from West Papuan in Vanimo, Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea

Dear Honourable Prime Minister,

West Papua and human rights of Melanesians from West Papua has been a continuing issue since the invasion and occupation of our Melanesian land by foreign power called the Colonial United Republic of Indonesia (CURI).

The West Papua Refugee Relief Association (WPRRA) which was established in Port Moresby in 2010, hereby would like to present to Honourable Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea the “torture and assassinate attempt on one of Melanesians from West Papua who have been living in Vanimo, Sandaun Province for many years, after escaping from terror, intimidation and threat to life from Indonesian army and police forces in West Papua.

We attach the chronology of the event and our demand for immediate actions, and images of the victim. We will supply videos on our interview with the victim upon request.

Issued in: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
On Date:  28 September 2019

WPRRA Main Office,

Elimar Gombo                                                               Soni Yossi
Chairperson                                                                    Deputy Chairperson

Vanuatu PM calls for UN action on West Papua
Charlot Salwai Photo: UNGA
Charlot Salwai Photo: UNGA

Vanuatu’s prime minister has again pressed the United Nations General Assembly over human rights abuses in West Papua.

During his speech in New York, Charlot Salwai lamented how some Pacific territories are yet to break the shackles of colonialism.

Mr Salwai cited France’s territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, as well as Indonesian-ruled West Papua.

He called on the administering powers to respect UN processes and ensure people in these territories can have their self-determination views heard.

Mr Salwai called for use of the UN system to find solutions to violations of West Papuans’ human rights.

“The resolution of the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum calls on the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua to conduct an assessment based on concrete proof regarding the human rights situation.”

Rayyanul Sangadji, a junior Indonesian diplomat from Ambon, Maluku, exercised the country’s right of reply to Vanuatu’s statement.

“As an Indonesian with Melanesian roots, I can tell you we do not like to be clustered, categorised, or worse, divided by another, faraway country,” he said.

“Papua is, has [been] and will always be, part of Indonesia.”

Source: RNZ

Indonesia: Jokowi Says Ready to Meet with Papuan Pro-Independence Leaders

Victor Mambor and Arie Firdaus = Jayapura, Indonesia and Jakarta

Residents drive past a burning government building in Wamena, in Indonesia’s Papua province, Sept. 23, 2019.
Residents drive past a burning government building in Wamena, in Indonesia’s Papua province, Sept. 23, 2019.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Monday he was ready to hold talks with separatist leaders to solve the conflict in Indonesia’s Papua region, as thousands of Indonesians who had migrated there were evacuated from Wamena, a highland town where 33 people died in violence last week.

A protest involving hundreds of high school students that was provoked by alleged racist remarks from an instructor descended into chaos in Wamena on Sept. 23, with crowds setting fire to government buildings, shops and homes, authorities said. On the same day, security forces clashed with student protesters in the provincial capital Jayapura, leaving three civilians and a soldier dead, police said.

“I will meet anyone who wants to meet me,” Jokowi told reporters at the Bogor Presidential Palace, when asked if he was ready for dialogue with pro-independence groups such as the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB).

The government has blamed ULMWP and KNPB for the unrest that has gripped Papua and West Papua provinces since last month, when thousands of protestors took to the streets across the mainly Melanesian region demanding a vote on self-determination. The protests broke out over alleged racist epithets that had been used against Papuan students on Java island.

Authorities said five people were killed during the initial violence in August and early September, but Papuan activists said they recorded at least 13 deaths.

Officials said the unrest was intended to draw international attention to Papuans’ demand for a referendum during the ongoing 74th U.N. General Assembly in New York.

ULMWP chairman Benny Wenda, who is based in Britain, welcomed Jokowi’s gesture.

“We welcome what was conveyed by the government of Indonesia. But we will only hold dialogue if all soldiers and police are withdrawn from the land of Papua without conditions,” Wenda told BenarNews.

The chairman of Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) urged Jakarta to engage Papuan leaders in a dialogue.

“In my opinion, this is the best solution. If it is not resolved through dialogue, we are worried there will be greater ramifications, including an international intervention,” Ahmad Taufan Damanik told reporters in Jakarta.

Almost 7,300 people have sought refuge in police and military headquarters, as well in church and government buildings in Wamena after last week’s violence, said John Richard Banua, the administrative head of Jayawijaya regency, of which Wamena is the main town.

Tensions rose in Papua in December after separatist rebels allegedly killed 19 members of a crew building a highway in Nduga regency. Authorities immediately sent more than 750 soldiers and police to the region after the killings.

Five people tagged as suspects

Police have said that most of 33 people who were killed in last week’s violence were migrants from outside Papua. Five people had been named suspects over the riot, officials said.

The military said more than 3,100 migrants who feared they would be targeted had been evacuated to the provincial capital Jayapura.

“They will be helped to return to their home provinces, especially women and children,” armed forces chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto told reporters, adding that men had been advised to return to Wamena to rebuild the town’s economy.

Security Affairs Minister Wiranto also urged those who fled Wamena to return.

“You can imagine, if they flock out of Wamena, who will drive the economy?” Wiranto told reporters in Jakarta.

The Papua region, which makes up the Indonesian half of New Guinea island, was incorporated formally into Indonesia in 1969 following a U.N.-administered ballot known as the Act of Free Choice. Many Papuans and rights groups said the vote was a sham because it involved only 1,000 people.

Wamena resident Obelom Wakerkwa told BenarNews that the students who took part in the protests did not engage in vandalism and arson attacks.

He said he saw security forces firing warning shots in front of the protesters.

“That enraged the high school students and the situation became out of control,” he said.

Ahmad Syamsudin in Jakarta contributed to this report.

Australia urged to ‘step up substantially’ to halt violence in neighbouring West Papua

Exclusive: West Papua continues to be rocked by bloody violence as Indonesian security forces and pro-independence protesters clash. And Australia has been urged to do more to end the bloodshed.

BY VIRGINIA LANGEBERG

Australia has been urged to “step up substantially on the issue of West Papua”, with  Vanuatu’s leaders taking to the stage of the UN General Assembly to “emphatically condemn” alleged human rights violations in the region. 

Following reports of a mass exodus from the town of Wamena, in the Indonesian province of Papua, and increased violence on Monday, Vanuatu urged global leaders to assist West Papuans. 

“We condemn, emphatically, violations of human rights of the indigenous people of West Papua,” Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas told the UN. 

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas at the UN. FR170574 AP
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas at the UN. FR170574 AP

The island nation’s foreign minister declared “history will judge us”, urging Australia to step up. 

“We’re very worried because it’s happening right now there is a crisis going on,” Ralph Regenvanu said.

“Some international law experts have called it genocide; I mean it fits the criteria of a genocide. History will judge us and we have to be on the right side of history. 

“Australia’s got to step up substantially on the issue of West Papua, particularly because it’s on the Human Rights Council, it is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum.” 

A report in The Guardian cites the death toll in Wamena as high as 41 after Indonesian troops opened fire on an anti-racism rally made up of high school students.

Activists said Papuans responded by setting fire to several buildings. 

On Saturday, the Indonesian Embassy stated the official death toll was 33 – saying most died in the fires and some 3,500 locals were displaced following the chaos. 

Smoke rise from a burning building during a violent rally in Wamena, Papua Province, Indonesia. AP
Smoke rise from a burning building during a violent rally in Wamena, Papua Province, Indonesia. AP

But a report in The Guardian has suggested the actual death toll was at least 41, with one witness saying he saw up to 20 people shot dead by police, while Papuans tried to fight back with rocks and arrows. 

“Papuans are also terrified. They are thinking, ‘if the government is so quick to help settlers leave, what is being planned after that’,” one Wamena local told The Guardian. 

Exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda was among a group of Pacific leaders who met with the UN Secretary-General earlier this week to stress the importance of a UN visit to the region. 

“I continue to lobby that in here in the United Nations to send the UN High Commissioners to West Papua but Indonesia (will) not allow,” he told SBS News. 

“So I hope that Indonesian government and President Jokowi will allow the UN High Commissioner to visit West Papua because this is a human rights crisis happening right now in West Papua.” 

West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda. Supplied
West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda. Supplied

In recent weeks, Indonesia has deployed more than 6,000 troops into West Papua to quell the growing push for independence and Amnesty International has called Monday’s violence, one of the bloodiest days for Papua in 20 years. 

But Australian has urged restraint on both sides, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne urging “absolute restraint” to deescalate the situation. 

“We are obviously very concerned about the reports of violence in Papua [and] West Papua,” she told SBS News this week.

“They are matters which our post in Jakarta is following up with authorities there.” 

Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong condemned the violence, but also stayed neutral. 

“We have raised concerns about human rights violations in West Papua and we will continue to work to uphold the universal right of all people to peacefully express their political views including in West Papua,” she said in a statement. 

“Labor fully respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia; respect for each other’s territorial integrity is enshrined in the Lombok Treaty, which remains the bedrock of security cooperation between our two countries.”

Source: SBS AU


Australia urges restraint in West Papua amid ongoing violence

PACIFIC, RNZ

High School Stucents Demonstration Wamena 23 September 2019
High School Stucents Demonstration Wamena 23 September 2019

Australia’s government has urged restraint by all relevant parties in West Papua amid ongoing unrest in the Indonesian ruled region.

The death toll from violence in the Papuan cities of Jayapura and Wamena on Monday has risen to 26.

Violence erupted in both cities as Indonesian security forces cracked down on student protests.

This follows weeks of unrest triggered by large protests in the region last month.

Outside the UN headquarters in New York, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne told SBS that her government was seeking updates about the situation.

“Well we are obviously very concerned about the reports of violence in Papua and West Papua. And they are matters which our post in Jakarta is obviously following up with authorities there. We urge absolute restraint from both sides in actions that are happening on the ground there.”

Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne
Australia’s Defence Minister Marise Payne Photo: AFP

Monday’s unrest in Jayapura led to the arrest of over 700 Papuan students.

Many of them had recently returned home early from study in Javanese cities, where racist attacks on Papuan students last month prompted widespread protests in the Papuan provinces, and also raised fears for the students’ safety.

An additional 6000 Indonesian police and military personnel were deployed to the heavily restricted region by early September as unrest sparked by the protests left at least ten people dead.

West Papuan students apprehended by police, Waena, Jayapura, 23 September.
West Papuan students apprehended by police, Waena, Jayapura, 23 September. Photo: Supplied

Since last year, Indonesian security forces in Papua have also been preoccupied in the Highlands region by a protracted armed conflict with a pro-independence guerilla unit named the West Papua Liberation Army.

The ongoing unrest, as well as issues of human rights abuses and self-determination in Papua, is expected to be raised by some Pacific Islands leaders at this week’s UN General Assembly.

Three people, including 3-year-old, killed in West Papua clash
The Indonesian military’s Cenderawasih district chief commander Herman Asaribab visiting victims of Puncak shootings in hospital. Photo: TNI
The Indonesian military’s Cenderawasih district chief commander Herman Asaribab visiting victims of Puncak shootings in hospital. Photo: TNI

Three civilians, including a 3-year old boy, have died in a shootout with rebels in West Papua, Indonesia’s military says.

The military insisted the people were shot by rebel fighters, while but a Papuan pro-independence military group said Indonesian soldiers were responsible.

A spokesperson for Indonesia’s military said fighting broke out on Tuesday when rebels attacked security forces in Puncak regency’s Ilaga district.

Eko Daryanto said the rebels then retreated into the forest while shooting randomly, killing three civilians and injuring four.

Mr Daryanto had earlier said all seven were injured with gunshot wounds.

The West Papua Liberation Army claimed seven civilians were killed by security forces after they launched an assault on the village.

It’s the latest exchange in a protracted conflict between a military faction of the Papuan independence movement and Indonesian forces in Papua’s remote Highlands region which intensified last year.

Indonesia’s Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu told reporters on Thursday military and police could not be pulled out of Papua in case the region seceded from the republic, the state-news agency Antara reported.

Source: RNZ

Death toll from West Papua clashes rises to 26
Two Melanesian High School Students Shot by TNI/ Police of Indonesia

The death toll from clashes between protesters and Indonesian forces in West Papua has risen to 26.

Violence erupted in the provincial capital Jayapura and the main Highlands town Wamena on Sunday, an escalation of protests that have gripped the province for weeks.

Indonesia’s military says 22 people were killed during riots in Wamena, where students were protesting over a racism allegation.

Government buildings and businesses were torched by large crowds.

The military says four people – including a soldier – were killed in a separate protest by students there.

Seven-hundred and thirty-three people are being held at Papua police headquarters in Jayapura.

Unrest in Wamena, West Papua on 23 September 2019
Photo: Supplied

Source: RNZ

Pacific leaders call for action from industrial nations

Pacific Island Forum leaders have urged the United Nations Secretary General to persuade the world’s industrial powers to take urgent action to reduce their carbon emissions.

Pacific leaders meet in New York with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Pacific leaders meet in New York with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Photo: Aupito William Sio

Forum leaders met with António Guterres on Saturday ahead of the UN supremo’s special Climate Action Summit and UN General Assembly.Listen to more on Dateline Pacific duration4′ :22″Add to playlistDownload

Listen to more on Dateline Pacific

They highlighted critical priorities to securing the future of the Pacific region.

New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific People’s represented the country ahead of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s arrival.

Aupito William Sio says beyond the plea for action, Pacific leaders urge industrial nations to then stay on course to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in order to limit temperature rise.

“One-point-five degrees as agreed to in the Paris Agreement and I was quite proud of the way the Pacific Island Forum leaders co-ordinated and raised all the valid issues that were raised at the Tuvalu PIF conference.”

The 21 September meeting at UN Headquarters in New York gave Forum leaders the opportunity to formally table issues, including those discussed at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders Meeting in Tuvalu last month, before the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.

Leaders also raised issues previously discussed with Antonio Guterres during his visit to Fiji, New Zealand, Tuvalu and Vanuatu in May.

“The Blue Pacific is the frontline of the fight against climate change which represents the single greatest threat to the future of our region,” said Nauru’s new president, Lionel Aingimea, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Forum Chair, Tuvalu.

Forum Leaders briefed the UN Secretary-General on the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now as agreed in Tuvalu. The Declaration sets out ten actions for urgent and effective climate action by all countries at the Climate Action Summit and at COP 25 in Chile in December.

Leaders also discussed the development of a new 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent to drive and lead the collective future of the Pacific region including the importance of securing and protecting ocean and marine resources for the future.

“Including our commitment to conclude all outstanding maritime boundaries claims in order to safeguard our maritime zones in the face of sea level rise and climate change.

“Our resolve to accelerate collective action to address the legacies of nuclear testing including on fisheries was also discussed,” said President Aingimea.

Pacific Leaders also raised the situation in West Papua at the meeting.

“Leaders reiterated their calls from the Forum Communique agreed in Tuvalu – for all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents and to address the root causes of the conflict by peaceful means. The urgency around the Leaders’ request for the parties to finalise the timing for a mission of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to West Papua (Papua) was also conveyed,” said Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor.

Pacific to seek easier access to climate finance

Easing access to climate finance will be a focus for the Pacific at the Climate Action Summit.

The Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s principal climate change advisor said Pacific countries were making these firm commitments despite their own very low carbon emissions.

However, these countries were highly vulnerable to the climate crisis, and Espen Ronneberg said access to climate finance for adaptation was a priority for them.

“The resources are available, it’s just that it’s complicated to access them and doing so requires quite a bit of human capacity and expertise that sometimes is lacking or is simply too over-worked with other responsibilities.”

Espen Ronneberg
Espen Ronneberg Photo: SPREP

The Climate Action Summit takes place on 23 September at the United Nations in New York.

Violent Protests in Papua Leave at Least 20 Dead

By The Associated Press

Two Melanesian Students in Wamena after being shot by Indonesian army declaring independence
Two Melanesian Students in Wamena after being shot by Indonesian army declaring independence

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Violent protests by hundreds of people on Monday touched off by rumors that a teacher insulted an indigenous student in the restive Indonesian province of Papua have left at least 20 civilians dead, including three who were shot by the police, officials said.

An angry mob torched local government buildings, shops and homes and set fire to cars and motorcycles on several roads leading to the district chief’s office in the city of Wamena, said the Papua police chief, Rudolf Alberth Rodja.

A spokesman for the Papua military, Eko Daryanto, said at least 16 civilians, including 13 from other Indonesian provinces, were killed in Wamena, mostly after they were trapped in burning houses or shops. He said at least one soldier and three civilians had died in another protest in Jayapura, the provincial capital.

About 65 civilians were injured in Wamena and five police officers were critically injured in Jayapura, he said.

Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished Papua region, a former Dutch colony in the western half of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.

Television images showed orange flames and black smoke billowing from burning buildings in Wamena, and videos that circulated on the internet showed dozens of people, many armed with machetes, standing in front of shops and homes to protect them from the angry mob.

Chief Rodja said the unrest was precipitated by rumors that a high school teacher in Wamena, who is not from Papua, called an indigenous student a “monkey” last week.

Police officers at a university in Jayapura, the provincial capital. Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the region.
Police officers at a university in Jayapura, the provincial capital. Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the region.CreditMisael Noel/EPA, via Shutterstock

He said a police investigation did not find any evidence of racism against the student, and he added that false rumors have been created and spread in other schools and indigenous communities with the intention of causing violent unrest.

“This is a hoax, and I call on people in Papua not to be provoked by untrue news,” Chief Rodja told reporters in Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province.

Mr. Daryanto said that a mob of angry students attacked a soldier and several police officers in Jayapura with machetes and rocks, and that security forces responded with gunfire, killing three civilians. The soldier died on the way to a hospital. At least five police officers were in critical condition.

Joko Harjani, an airport official, said the protest forced the authorities to close the city’s airport until the situation returns to normal.

The demonstration came days after the Indonesian authorities managed to bring the province under control after weeks of violent protests by thousands of people in Papua and West Papua provinces who had complained of racism toward Papuans. At least one Indonesian soldier and four civilians were killed in that violence.

The previous protests were set off by videos circulated on the internet that showed security forces calling Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs” in the East Java city of Surabaya, as they stormed a university dormitory where Papuan students were staying after a torn Indonesian flag was found in a sewer.

The videos prompted hundreds of Papuans who study in other Indonesian provinces to return home, forcing a local state university to accommodate them.

Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a United Nations-sponsored ballot that was widely seen as a sham. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region, which is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.

In recent years, some Papua students, including those who study in other provinces, have called for self-determination for their region.

New York Times – A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 24, 2019, Section A, Page 8 of the New York edition with the headline: At Least 20 Found Dead Amid Riots In Indonesia. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


Deadly unrest breaks out again in West Papua
Burning of Government Regent Office in Wamena, West Papua Highlands
Burning of Government Regent Office in Wamena, West Papua Highlands

Deadly unrest has broken out again in West Papua, as Indonesian security forces cracked down on more student mobilisations.

Today in the capital of Papua province, Jayapura, as many as four people were killed, including at least one West Papuan university student who was shot dead and an Indonesian soldier fatally stabbed.

The violence was sparked after police rounded on a mass of Papuan university students who recently returned to Papua from cities in other parts of Indonesia, and had converged at Jayapura’s University of Cenderawasih for a solidarity action.

Around 2000 students have returned home early from study in mainly Javanese cities where racist attacks on Papuans last month prompted widespread protests in the Papuan provinces and also raised fears for the students’ safety.

However police disallowed today’s gathering at the university in Jayapura and eventually arrested dozens of students in Waena sub-district. A spokesman for police has pointed the blame at a student group for the ensuing violence.

Although the spokesman only confirmed that a member of the Indonesian military had been stabbed in the chaos, students and a local health official reported that in addition, three Papuan students were killed by gunfire from the security forces.

Meanwhile, today in the main Highlands city of Wamena, another large police contingent reportedly used firearms to disperse hundreds of Papuans after hordes of High School students took to the streets in protest at an alleged racist slur.

Students responded by filtering through the town and torching several buildings, including government and public facilities, as police and military struggled to contain the unrest throughout the day.

Human rights activists in Papua said that 12 people were injured due to gunshot wounds in Wamena, including students.

The police spokesman said the allegation which triggered the protest – regarding a racist slur towards Papuans at a local school – was not true.

West Papuan students apprehended by police, Waena, Jayapura, 23 September.
West Papuan students apprehended by police, Waena, Jayapura, 23 September. Photo: Supplied

Even before today, tensions were already high in both Wamena and Jayapura, where large mobilisations took place in August as part of a wave of Papuan protests against racism and in support of independence.

The protests spiralled into unrest in various Papuan towns, with dozens arrested and at least ten people killed amid a security forces crackdown together with an internet shutdown through Papua implemented by the national government.

An additional 6000 Indonesian police and military personnel were deployed to the heavily restricted region by early September.

Since last year the security forces have also been preoccupied in the Highlands region by a protracted armed conflict with the pro-independence guerilla unit named the West Papua Liberation Army.

The ongoing unrest, as well as issues of human rights abuses and self-determination in Papua, is expected to be raised by some Pacific Islands leaders at this week’s United Nations General Assembly.

UN Human Rights Commssioner Michelle Bachelet this month again spoke of her hopes that Indonesia would finally permit a team from her office to visit Papua to investigate ongoing rights violations.

Source: RNZ