Bougainville and Papua New Guinea set target date for independence referendum


PHOTO: Bougainville leader John Momis (L) with PNG PM Peter O'Neill. (Supplied: Deryck Fritz/UNDP)
PHOTO: Bougainville leader John Momis (L) with PNG PM Peter O’Neill. (Supplied: Deryck Fritz/UNDP)

Bougainville President John Momis and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill have agreed to work towards a 2019 referendum on independence, following a meeting in Port Moresby last week.

Bougainville is an autonomous part of PNG, and fought a decade-long civil war with the national government that ended in 1999.

The region must hold an independence vote by 2020 under the terms of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, but the new target date is not final.

I call now for full weapons disposal … only then will Bougainville be able to be referendum ready.

John Momis, Bougainville President

President Momis said the decision had kickstarted the planning process ahead of the historic vote on June 15, 2019.

“With that date now agreed, we can plan the steps required to hold the referendum, and the time and the funding and personnel needed to carry out each step,” he told PNG’s Post Courier newspaper.

The PNG Government has also committed to funding referendum preparations, and it is hoped the decision will lead to full weapons disposal in Bougainville.

Some factions in Bougainville held onto their weapons after the conflict in case PNG would not allow the referendum to proceed, but President Momis said those suspicions could undermine the vote.

“I call now for full weapons disposal … only then will Bougainville be able to be referendum-ready. The Bougainville Peace Agreement requires that the referendum be free and fair,” he said.

“There should no longer be any doubt among Bougainvilleans whether or not the referendum will be held.”

Govt should settle human rights abuses in Papua through peaceful dialogue: Horta

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, The Jakarta Post

This photo shows Ramos Horta when he was president of Timor Leste. (TEMPO/AP)
This photo shows Ramos Horta when he was president of Timor Leste. (TEMPO/AP)

Former president of Timor Leste Jose Ramos-Horta has expressed optimism that the Indonesian government will settle cases of human rights abuses in Papua, saying that officials should prioritize peaceful dialogue.

Despite long decades of insurgency and rebellion from Papuan separatists, the government should not regard these people as enemies, but should instead work to rebuild trust with them, Horta said.

The process will not be easy because the government has neglected Papua for too long, Horta added.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s commitment to the Papuan people had begun to build up a sense of goodwill after a period of prolonged disappointment, Horta said.

“They are hopeful that significant steps will be taken to improve human rights in Papua,” Horta told journalists on Thursday.

The statement follows Horta’s visit to Papua from May 2 to May 4 after receiving an invitation to inspect development in the region from Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan.

During the visit, Horta reportedly met with Papuan officials including Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, Papua Legislative Council Speaker Yunus Wonda, the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP), local teachers and medical assistants.

Horta also met with former rebels who used to be active in the Free Papua Movement, but who now agreed to develop Papua as a part of Indonesia.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) will cooperate with human rights NGOs to investigate cases of violence in Papua, Horta said. The government should also work closely with local churches, he added.

“Indonesia can settle the human rights cases in Papua internally without the help of foreign actors,” Horta asserted.

The government should also avoid using violence that often ended up wounding innocent civilians, Horta said.

According to Horta, the government should find the right balance between national development and understanding centuries-old Papuan values.

This will be difficult because Papua is a large region, Horta said.

The government should develop programs to create more economic opportunity for Papuans, he went on to say.

Besides developing infrastructure and reducing the disparity gap, education should also be a top priority to advance the quality of the region’s human resources, Horta said.

Indonesia should take note of Singapore, a state with minimum natural resources, but a positive reputation in the international community, Horta said.

“A nation can be minuscule, but if everybody studies and gets a degree from a reputable university, they can operate in a big industry,” Horta said. (dan)

Topics :

Jeremy Corbyn on West Papua: UK Labour leader calls for independence vote

Opposition leader says human rights and justice should be ‘cornerstone’ of UK Labour party’s foreign policy

Jeremy Corbyn has drawn attention to the plight of West Papuans, saying the recognition of human rights and justice should be the “cornerstone” of the UK Labour party’s foreign policy.

The Labour leader made the comments in an address to a meeting of international parliamentarians, supporters and activists in London on Tuesday.

The group, which included Pacific region ministers and leaders, among them the West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda, called for a UN-supervised independence vote in the Indonesian territory.

West Papuans are the indigenous people of a region on the western half of the island shared with Papua New Guinea, formerly under Dutch rule. Indonesia took temporary control of West Papua under a UN–backed treaty in 1963. It consolidated its rule through a UN-sanctioned but discredited ballot in 1969, in which barely 1,000 West Papuan representatives selected by Indonesia cast votes under threat of violence.

“Essentially what we’re looking at is a group of people who did not enjoy their rights during a period of decolonisation, did not enjoy the rights bestowed to them by the UN charter and by the statutes on decolonisation,” Corbyn said.

“As a member of parliament I support them, as a member of this group and as a former vice-chair of the all-party human rights group.”

Recognising human rights and justice “has to be the cornerstone of foreign policy, the cornerstone of our relationship with every other country”, Corbyn said, pledging he would discuss a list of recommendations made in a report by the Politics of Papua Project at the University of Warwick with the Labour party.

“I want these issues to become central to our party’s policies in the future and above all I want to see an end to environmental degradation and destruction and the right of people to be able to make their own choice on their own future.”

Corbyn, who is a cofounder of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, described Monday’s gathering as “historic” and said the recommendations put forward were a good framework for moving towards recognition of the human rights issues, rights of representation and the right of people to choose their future in West Papua.

He noted the recommendation called for a visit by the UN special rapporteur, the reinstatement of NGOs in the region and questioning of international companies working in West Papua.

“It’s about a political strategy that brings to worldwide recognition the plight of the people of West Papua, forces it onto a political agenda, forces it to the UN, forces an exposure of it and ultimately that allows the people of West Papua to make the choice of the kind of government they want and the kind of society in which they want to live,” he said. “That is a fundamental right.”

He said the international community could continue “pretending the issue will go away” or it could “do something bold”.

“Recognise injustice when you see it,” he said. “Recognise the abuse of human rights when you see it and recognise that both sides in any conflict benefit from a peace process and benefit from recognition of human rights, law and justice.”

The Free West Papua campaign hopes to see a UN resolution within two years to send international peacekeepers to protect West Papuans as they vote on independence.

It urged international governments – particularly those of Australia and New Zealand – to support the vote.

“For 50 years Indonesia massacred my people, 500,000 people. We need international peacekeeping force in West Papua,” Wenda said. “In maybe another 10 or 20 or 50 years time I think my people will become a minority. We need this as soon as possible.”

On Friday the Indonesian embassy in Australia released a statement dismissing the meeting as a publicity stunt organised by a “small group of Papua separatists and sympathisers”.

“Papua and Papua Barat (West Papua) are parts of Indonesia. The UN and the international community recognise this,” it said in a series of tweets.

It accused the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, which Wenda leads, of making “false claims” and said West Papuans already had self-determination through special autonomy, free and fair elections, and education.

“President Jokowi is mobilising resources of the nation to deliver much needed infrastructure and public services in Papua,” it said.

“However, cases of violence are still a challenge. For example cases killed civilians, members of security authorities and separatists. Many cases are brought to court. And more to be brought to justice. President Jokowi is personally looking after human rights protections.”

• This article was amended on 19 May 2016. The recommendations that Jeremy Corbyn said he would discuss with the Labour party were made in a report by the University of Warwick’s Politics of Papua Project, not the group as a previous version said.


How Indonesia silences West Papuan independence supporters overseas

Vice Chair of VFWPM Chief Seni Mao presenting Communique in a basket with Peace leaf Namele to the Deputy Director of the MSG Secretariat Molean KilepakDailyPost – Leaders and members of the Vanuatu-Free West Papua Association (VFWPA) presented a Communiqué to the Deputy Director of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat (MSG) Mr. Molean Kalpak, requesting him to pass the Communiqué on to the MSG Chair and Leaders to allow West Papua full membership in the MSG and keep Indonesia out of the MSG.

The Vanuatu-West Papua Association Chairman, Pastor Alan Nafuki, and Vice-Chairman who is also President of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Chief Tirsupe Seni-Mao, led the Vanuatu- Free West Papua Association delegation to the MSG Headquarters in Port Vila.

Some members of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) were also present.

The Vice-Chairman of the Vanuatu-Free West Papua Association Chief Tirsupe Seni Mao, presented the Communiqué to the Deputy Director of the MSG Secretariat Mr. Molean Kilepak, in a Vanuatu traditionally woven basket with the namele leaves which is a symbol of peace throughout Vanuatu.

“This Vanuatu Melanesian Traditional Basket symbolizes MSG.

“Placing the Communiqué in it is a call for the MSG (Basket) Leaders to bring into the MSG the West Papua full membership and remove Indonesia out of the Basket (MSG) peacefully.

“We humbly call on you (Mr. Kilepak) to convey this message together with the Communiqué to the Chairman of the MSG and all the MSG leaders before the next MSG Meeting,” said the Vanuatu-Free West Papua Association Vice-Chairman, Chief Tirsupe Seni Mao.

In receiving the Basket, the Namele leaves and the Communiqué, the Deputy Director of the MSG Secretariat Molean Kilepak, said the MSG Secretariat is here to facilitate the work for the MSG, its leaders and members but the decision is not made by the MSG Secretariat but by the MSG Chair and Leaders of the member countries. He told the leaders and members of the VFWPA that the Secretariat will pass the Petition on to the Chair and the leaders.

The Communiqué contains 5 key resolutions passed by the Association in a Communiqué called Owen Hall Communiqué which calls for the MSG to grant full MSG Membership to West Papua and remove Indonesia Membership from the MSG.

Part of the Communiqué reads: “The Meeting was convened at the right time when Melanesian Spearhead Group is considering the full membership ULMWP.

“The meeting called for the removal of Indonesia’s membership of the MSG.

“In the Spirit of solidarity and Partnership, Civil Society Leaders:

“1. RE-AFFIRM our resolve to play a complementary role with the MSG leaders to progress development and improve the lives and wellbeing of Melanesian People.

“2. EXPRESS SOLIDARITY with the MSG of its commitments under the preamble of the MSG Constitution, the 2013 Noumea Communiqué to support the inalienable rights of the people of West Papua towards self-determination and the inclusion of West Papua as an Observer in the MSG at the 2015 MSG Summit.

“3. CALL UPON THE MSG to accept and endorse the full membership of the ULMWP at the 2016 MSG Summit.

“4. FURTHER CALL on the MSG and the Melanesian countries to denounce the ongoing genocide of West Papua Melanesians and colonial rule by Indonesia.

“5. APPEAL TO Pacific Island governments and the International Community for;

“External international intervention into the West Papua emergency situation;recognition and confirmation of ULMWP as rightful leaders of the struggles of West Papua; challenging the Netherlands and the United Nations on legality of Indonesian powers over West Papua; sponsoring of a resolution for the re-unification of West Papua into the United Nations Decolonization list; sponsoring the case of West Papua in the International Court of Justice seeking a judgment on the legality of the 1969 “Act of Free Choice” and supporting the Self-determination and independence of West Papua.”

The Communiqué was dated May 3, 2016 on behalf of participants of the Owen Hall Meeting and signed by; Pastor Alan Nafuki, Chairman Vanuatu Free West Papua Association, Moli Seni Mao Tirsupe, President Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, Vanuatu, Ms Emele Duituturaga, Executive Director Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organizations and Mr. Peter Amdt, Coordinating Team Leader, Australia West Papua Solidarity Movement.

PNG govt to review West Papuans’ refugee claims
From 4:03 pm on 8 February 2016

Papua New Guinea’s government is reviewing asylum claims by over 1,000 West Papuans and beginning a registration of all West Papuans living in PNG, many of whom have been there for decades without full refugee status or citizenship.

An Indonesian military commander has warned soldiers against committing abuses in Papua, saying the region is constantly in the spotlight because of conflict.

Indonesian soldiers
Indonesian soldiers Photo: AFP

Tabloid Jubi reports Cenderawasih regional commander Major General Hinsa Sibuarian saying the military’s job is to nurture, protect and guarantee the security of the people.

He says soldiers serving locally must be aware that Papua is being highlighted because it is considered a risk area.

Citing the recent incident in Timika where two people were allegedly shot dead by military, General Sibuarian says it shouldn’t have happened.

Urging soldiers not to drink alcohol, he says they should be down-to-earth and maintain the unity and integrity of the nation.

His comment comes as the Timika Diocese Church Chairman says the actions of the Indonesian security forces have soiled the image of the country.

John Philip Saklil says there is a widespread perception that security forces who transgress routinely enjoy impunity. – Two Indonesian army officers have been arrested for allegedly killing two men and injuring two others in Papua region.

The Jakarta Post reports that conflicting details have emerged over what exactly happened, but the victims have been identified as Imanuel Mailmaur and Yulianus Okoare.

Soon after the incident, a Papua military spokesperson, Teguh Pudji Rahardjo, said the shooting happened when a soldier was attacked by a mob in Timika, prompting troops to fire into the crowd.

But the commander of the Merauke Regional Command, Brigadier General Supartodi, told the newspaper that the officers were drunk when they opened fire into the crowd, and have been arrested.

The Papua police chief, Brigadier General Paulus Waterpauw is currently in Timika to assist with the handling of the situation.

RadioNZ – Pacific churches have condemned the killing of two West Papuans in a shooting involving Indonesian soldiers last week.

They have called on regional leaders to speak out against summary killings, torture and human rights abuse in the Indonesian region.

The church says reports from Timika in Mimika Regency say a group of Special Forces troops shot dead two members of the Catholic Youth Group at the Cathedral Parish of the Three Kings in Timika.

At the time the Kamoro people were performing traditional rituals.

The Council says the soldiers, who were refused entry to the area, went to their barracks, returned with weapons and fired on the group.

The General Secretary of the Pacific Council of Churches, Rev Francois Pihaatae, says the killings were uncalled for and an indication of Indonesia’s contempt.

He says Pacific leaders have a duty to speak out, especially those who have invited Indonesia into the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Indonesian soldiers and policemen deployed on the main Timika road to the Freeport mine
Indonesian soldiers and policemen deployed on the main Timika road to the Freeport mine Photo: AFP

The West Papua Morning Star flag
The West Papua Morning Star flag Photo: AFP

RadioNZ – Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights is to visit Indonesia’s Papua region this month to investigate the deaths of two Papuans allegedly shot by soldiers last week.

The Jakarta Post reports the commissioner Natalius Pigai has deplored the incident in Timika in which the civilians were killed and a number of ethnic Kamoro injured during a traditional ceremony at a church complex in Timika.

The commissioner also questioned President Joko Widodo’s commitments to immediately resolve human rights violations that continue to occur in Papua.

The victims were buried on Sunday and the paper reports they were shot dead when two soldiers arrived intoxicated at a party to honour a local tribesman.

The paper reports the Regional Military Command has apologised for the incident and says military tribunals will be organised to hear the charges against the perpetrators.