Event

In a speech on February 5th, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Peter O’Neill, said that he wants to speak out about human rights in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Analysis

Mr O’Neill broke with his government’s usual policy of recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over the provinces of Papua and West Papua and silence over the alleged human rights abuses committed there. In comments during a speech outlining his government’s core policies at the PNG Leaders’ Summit, Mr O’Neill said “Sometimes we forget our own families, our own brothers, especially those in West Papua. I think, as a country, the time has come for us to speak about the oppression of our people there.” He vowed to open and lead mature discussions with Indonesia over the issue.

His statement coincided with the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULWP) announcing that it was submitting an application for full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG, an umbrella group of countries with Melanesian populations, as well as representatives of New Caledonia’s Melanesian population). With the exception of Vanuatu, Pacific governments have been slow to speak out about human rights abuses in Papua and West Papua.

Beyond a handful of legislators, PNG has been reluctant to talk about human rights abuses in West Papua, or to speak out on behalf of West Papuan separatists. However, the issue has become more prominent in recent years, due in part to the rise of social media highlighting alleged Indonesian abuses. There have also been a number of incidents along the 760‑km border between PNG and the province of Papua. In April and May last year the Indonesian military reportedly fired on PNG border patrols, prompting the foreign minister, Rimbink Pato, to summon the Indonesian ambassador for an explanation.

In a softening of PNG’s stance, Mr Pato stated on February 9th that he had contacted the Indonesian foreign minister and had reassured him that there had been no change in PNG’s recognition of Indonesian sovereignty and that ULWP’s application to the MSG would be carried out in consultation with Indonesia.

Impact on the forecast

Mr O’Neill’s vow to speak out on West Papua will win him support domestically and is likely to raise the profile of the West Papua issue. However, it may threaten relations with his country’s nearest neighbour.

Source: http://country.eiu.com/

The spokesperson for the global Free West Papua Campaign claims up to 1000 police and military deployed to the Timika region in West Papua have tortured people in the area.

In a statement, Benny Wenda says up to 116 people living in the region surrounding the Freeport McMoran mine have been tortured and detained since the deployment.

The Freeport McMoran mine near Grasberg, West Papua
The Freeport McMoran mine near Grasberg, West Papua Photo: AFP

The deployment was in response to the killing of two police officers in Utikini village last week, in which 13 people have been arrested.

Attached to the statement are pictures of dozens of people sitting in front of a house with their hands tied behind their banks, surrounded by armed plain clothed police officers, although the picture has not been verified.

Mr Wenda says houses have been burnt down after independence banners were found inside.

He says he believes the deployment is a deliberate attempt to divert public attention away from the killing of 5 schoolboys in Paniai last month

PNG to integrate West Papua refugees

Papua New Guinea has committed to integrating Papuans who fled across the border from Indonesia.

The PNG foreign minister, Rimbink Pato, says West Papuan refugees will be issued a PNG passport or certificate of identity.

Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades
Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Mr Pato says the process will happen over the next 12 months and will be assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

He says most West Papua refugees have already met the requirements for PNG citizenship and the government will waive the application fees.

Tens of thousands of West Papuans have fled the Indonesian-controlled provinces bordering PNG, with many having lived in makeshift refugee camps for decades.

Mr Pato says those asylum seekers held by Australia in its Manus detention centre who get refugee status will be given training in English, Tok Pisin and PNG culture.

He says non-refugees will be required to leave PNG either voluntarily or through deportation.

The National Committee for West Papua, the KNPB, is saying that another seven of its activists were captured by the Indonesian military on Friday.

This follows the arrest of six KNPB activists on Thursday, who were detained in the provincial capital, Jayapura for distributing leaflets calling on West Papuans to boycott the Indonesian presidential election on the 9th of July.

According to reports, the seven activists were captured by soldiers in the Timika region and tortured and beaten before being handed over to police.

The KNPB says their whereabouts remain unknown.

Copyright © 2014, Radio New Zealand

RadioNZ – Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders say they want to take a more proactive approach alongside Indonesia to help address the development needs of West Papuans.

The leaders have just concluded their summit in Port Moresby where issues regarding the indigenous Melanesians of Indonesia’s Papua region featured prominently on the agenda.

According to the summit’s communiqué, the MSG seeks greater awareness on the situation in Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua provinces in regard to special autonomy arrangements and their impact on the local population.

Elsewhere the leaders note the progress on greater autonomy in Papua and a recent announcement by the President of Indonesia to withdraw the military from Papua region.

However the MSG appears to have brushed off a formal application bid by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation for membership in the MSG.

The coalition lodged its application over a year ago, and submitted documents of support from over seventy representative groups in Indonesia’s Papua region.

Documents of support for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation
Documents of support for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation Photo: RNZI

The MSG had postponed its decision on the application pending the report from January’s MSG Foreign Ministers fact-finding mission to Papua.

Vanuatu boycotted that trip because it was of the view that the mission’s programme would not allow the MSG to obtain credible information to fulfil the MSG Leaders mandate, around making a decision on the membership bid.

The mission visited Papua region for less than a day.

The MSG leaders who attended this week’s summit were Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, his Vanuatu counterpart Joe Natuman, PNG’s Peter O’Neill and the current MSG chair, Victor Tutugoro, representing the FLNKS of New Caledonia.

While the communique didn’t include a formal decision on the Coalition’s membership bid, Mr O’Neill, earlier indicated that West Papuans would need to re-apply for membership as an “inclusive and united” group.

Mr O’Neill says the group would also have to consult with Jakarta.

Indonesia has observer status at the MSG.

Among other points of the communiqué, the MSG endorses more regular meetings with Jakarta on bilateral cooperation with specific focus on social and economic development and empowerment for West Papuans.

WATI TALEBULA, Suva, FIJI Sun

The Methodist Church in Fiji wore special ribbons as a sign of their solidarity for West Papua yesterday.

The church’s Secretary for Communication and Overseas Mission Reverend James Bhagwan said the red and black ribbons were distributed by the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Pacific Network for Globalisation.

“The Methodist Church in Fiji is a committed member of both the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Fiji Council of Churches. As such we support the call to end human rights abuses in Tanah Papua, for their social, economic and political empowerment and for self-determination,”

Reverend Bhagwan said.

“We stand in solidarity with our brothers, sisters and children of Tanah Papua. We have received their cry and we will echo it and speak this truth to power.”

Reverend Bhagwan said they were ready to work and bring an end to their sufferings.

“We affirm the work of the Pacific Conference of Churches on the West Papua issue,” he said.

“We look forward to working in partnership with them to enable self-determination in its fullest sense.”

Feedback: wati.talebula@fijisun.com.fj

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, is in Indonesia to lead the official visit of the MSG Foreign Ministers’ Meeting at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia.

The visit was mandated by the MSG Leaders at its Summit which was held in Noumea in June last year.
The delegation will meet  Susilo Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indononesia, and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marty Natalegawa.

The FMM delegation will be in West Papua for two days during the visit to meet with local Government officials and other relevant stakeholders.

“We are happy to undertake this important visit at the invitation of the Indonesian Government to be able to assess the application by WPNCL to become a member of the MSG to enable us to present a recommendation to our Leaders,” Ratu Inoke said.

“We fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we further recognise that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia.

“The visit will provide the opportunity to learn firsthand about the situation in West Papua and understand the aspirations of our fellow Melanesian brothers and sisters in Papua with regards to their representation by WPNCL to become a member of the MSG.”

It is envisaged that the visit will also deepen the economic ties and development co-operation between Indonesia and MSG countries.

Indonesia is an observer of the MSG.

The other members of the delegation include Rimbink Pato and Soalaoi Forau, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands respectively, Joe Natuman, Vanuatu’s Special Envoy and Yvon Faua, Representative of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS).
– MINFO NEWS

Source: http://fijisun.com.fj

West Papuan independence fighters ‘injure two in border shooting’

West Papuan Revolution Army raised morning star flag before shoot-out ahead of legislative elections, say reports

West Papuan independence fighters did a “war dance”, raised the banned morning star flag and shot at Indonesian security personnel near the border with Papua New Guinea on Saturday, according to a local journalist, in a provocative action ahead of Wednesday’s legislative elections in Indonesia.

An Indonesian police officer and a military officer were injured in the shootout and three independence fighters were hit by police and military fire, said Victor Mambor, the editor of West Papuan online news outlet Jubi, who was tipped off about the incident early on Saturday.

Members of the West Papuan Revolution Army tore down the Indonesian flag and raised the morning star, as well as the flag of the United Nations, near the Skouw-Wutung border post at 5am on Saturday, Mambor told Guardian Australia.

The group “did a war dance” around the flagpole and set a carwash on fire, he said. Police and military monitored the situation from a watchtower but were shot at and the rebels then engaged in a gunfight with soldiers and police on Indonesian territory close to the border before withdrawing to PNG, Mambor said.

A government adviser told Guardian Australia the incident would have little impact on the legislative elections.

Franzalbert Joku, an adviser on the Papua desk in the Indonesian ministry of political and security affairs, said: “The incident has no impact at all.”

He blamed the shootout on a “security lapse” and said he was surprised it had happened in a busy area where government officials were stationed on both sides of the border. He confirmed that the chief of Jayapura police, Alfred Papare, and a military intelligence officer were injured in the incident.

Joku told Guardian Australia he thought the pre-poll stunt was “intended as a way to disrupt – or to say, you’re busy preparing to go to the polls, but we’re still doing this”.

“I think that is the only value I see that would have been gained by the perpetrators,” he said.

Joku, who is also a Papuan candidate in the elections, said West Papuans needed to work with the Indonesian government, not against it, to improve conditions in the province.

“Persevering with a culture of political agitation under whatever guise is counter-productive,” he said.

Exiled West Papuan leader Benny Wenda, who is leading a campaign for West Papuans to boycott the Indonesian elections, told Guardian Australia that, while he was touched to see the morning star flag raised in this “very symbolic place”, he was concerned the border incident would lead to reprisal attacks against the thousands of West Papuan refugees living in PNG.

“I know this border post very well, and as Papuans, over the last 50 years our observation is that any pro-independence activities taking place close to the border will make the Indonesian government extremely angry and they are very likely to force the PNG government and police [to] look for West Papuan refugees and burn down their houses in revenge or kill them,” he said.

Marni Cordell, the Guardian.com

Claim Aussie choppers used in Papuan ‘genocide’

A report claims Australia provided Indonesia with helicopters which were used used to carry out ‘genocidal’ attacks in West Papua.

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

A report claims Australia provided Indonesia with helicopters which were used used to carry out ‘genocidal’ attacks in West Papua in the late 1970s.

The report by the Asian Human Rights Commission says Australian helicopters were among aircraft used to carry out napalm and cluster bombing in the West Papuan highlands.

And a warning, this report contains some disturbing material.

(Click on audio tab above to hear full item)

The startling report claims West Papuan independence supporters were burned and boiled alive; women were raped, had their breasts cut off and internal organs pulled out; while other villagers were sliced with razors and forced to eat soldiers’ faeces.

Entitled “The Neglected Genocide – Human Rights abuses against Papuans in the Central Highlands”, the report estimates more than four-thousand people from 15 communities were killed in 1977 and 1978.

The Asian Human Rights Commission’s Basil Fernando says it’s upsetting that Indonesia and its neighbours have failed to recognise what he says was genocide.

“Such a large number of people being killed, but has not been a preoccupation for the Indonesian government as well as for the neighbouring countries – such as Australia – that is one of the most shocking aspects of this report.”

The Indonesian military launched the alleged attacks in response to West Papuan independence uprisings following 1977 general elections.

University of New South Wales West Papua expert, Associate Professor Clinton Fernandes, explains:

“In the 1970s the Indonesian military was annexing West Papua and some of the Papuans who were resisting had to be crushed by force. The Indonesian air force’s doctrine was to destroy agricultural areas, destroy foodstocks, buffaloes, paddy fields and so on. And they would use napalm and they would do that in order to starve the resistence into submission.”

The report claims two helicopters provided by Australia were used in bombing attacks on the Central Highlands villagers.

But Associate Professor Fernandes says it’s very difficult to obtain a fuller picture of Australia’s involvement in West Papua at the time because many of the relevant diplomatic cables have yet to be released.

That’s despite the fact they were due to be de-classified five years ago.

Associate Professor Fernandes says the Department of Foreign Affairs is objecting to their release on national security grounds.

“It looks like the Australian government is claiming national security problems but really is afraid of embarrassment about what the public would think of it, were it to realise how closely involved we were with the Indonesian military.”

Associate Professor Fernandes says what is known is that between 1975 and 1978 Australia spent $26-million helping to modernise the Indonesian military.

He says it’s impossible that Australian authorities didn’t know Australian choppers were being used in the attacks in West Papua.

“It’s inconceivable. Anybody who provided the helicopters as well as Australian intelligence would have been writing detailed reports about what they knew, how they’d been used and so on simply in order to inform out own intelligence services about the doctrine, training and operational capabilities of the Indonesian airforce. Bureaucrats can never say they knew nothing. It’s possible that certain high level politicians may not have read certain reports and so on but this is all the more reason for the government to declassify its holdings from the 1970s.”

Tom Clarke from the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre is calling on the federal government to launch a comprehensive review of Australia’s relationship with the Indonesian military and security forces.

He says it’s not only historical ties between the two nations that are of concern.

“Detachment 88 is Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit and this is a detachment that is accused of committing human rights abuses in West Papua in the last few years. So this is a unit that the Australian government provides support to. So the Human Rights Law Centre would like to see a complete review of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia’s military to make sure we’re not in any way complicit with human rights abuses.”

In a statement to SBS Radio the Department of Foreign Affairs says the contemporary human rights situation in West Papua does not resemble the situation portrayed in the Asian Human Rights Commission report.

The Department says it is unable to comment on the situation 35 years ago.

SOURCE WORLD NEWS AUSTRALIA

The West Papuan independence movement – a history

West Papuan students in Yogyakarta protesting in support of independence for the territory, which has been part of Indonesia since 1969. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty
West Papuan students in Yogyakarta protesting in support of independence for the territory, which has been part of Indonesia since 1969. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty

Indigenous Papuans still fight for self-determination, more than 40 years after Indonesia acquired the territory in a sham ballot

Indonesia officially acquired West Papua in 1969, after a sham ballot on independence in which only a handful of the local population were allowed to vote.

The region, which makes up the western part of the island of New Guinea to Australia’s north, was once a Dutch colony, but the Netherlands began to prepare for withdrawal in the 1950s.

In 1961, West Papuans held a congress to discuss independence and raised the West Papuan “morning star” flag.

But a newly independent Republic of Indonesia began to assert its claim over the province and a conflict broke out between Indonesia, the Netherlands and the indigenous population.

A key requirement of the treaty was that all West Papuans be allowed to vote in a referendum on independence, which was to be overseen by the UN.

But when the ballot was held in 1969, it was far from free and fair: the Indonesian military handpicked 1,026 leaders to vote on behalf of the entire population, and threatened to kill them and their families if they voted the wrong way.

In this environment, the outcome of the so-called “Act of Free Choice” was unanimous – and Indonesia’s takeover of West Papua was rubber-stamped by the UN.

Almost all indigenous Papuans reject the referendum, dubbing it the “act of no choice”, and many continue to demand a real vote on self-determination to this day.

This history forms the basis for West Papuans’ call for independence – but it is not just historical injustice that fuels the movement today.

Indigenous West Papuans face daily surveillance and intimidation by the Indonesian military and police, and many report living in constant fear. Thousands have been killed, detained and tortured since 1963.

Those who agitate for independence openly do so at a high personal cost. It is illegal to raise the morning star flag and many of the province’s leaders are sitting out long jail terms for peaceful acts of defiance.

The region has an armed movement for independence that has been responsible for the deaths of Indonesian security personnel and actively engages in armed skirmishes, but there is a much larger civil movement that is also heavily suppressed.

In October 2011, the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a civilian gathering that addressed issues of self-governance, was violently quashed by Indonesian forces. Six people were killed and dozens more injured.

Indonesia guards its “territorial integrity” jealously. And it’s no surprise – the massive Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine in West Papua is one of the country’s largest taxpayers.

For its part, Indonesia argues that since West Papua was once a part of the Dutch East Indies, it should also be part of today’s independent Indonesian Republic.

Both major Australian political parties support them in this stance.

Indonesia is seen as an important political ally for Australia, and politicians from both sides are loth to antagonise their Indonesian counterparts. Australia maintains close ties with the Indonesian military. It also provides training and funding for its counter-terror police unit, Detachment 88, which has been involved in recent crackdowns on the independence movement.

But Australia is home to a significant West Papuan community and a large network of supporters of West Papuan independence. The West Papuan Freedom Flotilla is the latest in a long history of co-operation between activists from the two countries.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/