Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, NSW 2088
AWPA update. August 2011
Thousands of West Papuans took to the streets in peaceful rallies at the beginning of August calling for a referendum and in support of the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) conference in Oxford. Forty eight years after Indonesia took over administration of West Papua from the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority in 1963 and the West Papuan people still continue their struggle for justice and self-determination. The issue of West Papua is not going to disappear and the large rallies aptly show this.
A military operation took place in early August in response to a shooting incident that occurred in the village of Nafri early on the 1st August. In the incident four people, including a member of the TNI were killed. Up to 300 members of the security forces ( military and police) were involved in the operation in the hills around Nafri village searching for the perpetrators of the attack. Because a Morning Star flag was found near the incident the Jayapura Police were quick to blame the Free Papua Movement (OPM) for the attack in which unidentified assailants sprayed a small bus with bullets as it passed through Nafri village. However, Forkorus Yoboisembut, chairman of the Papua Traditional Council (DAP), claimed that there was more to the incident than met the eye. “This could be the work of people who do not want to see stability in Papua,” he told the Jakarta Globe. The local rebel commander, Lambert Pekikir denied involvement in an ambush saying the OPM fighting for independence would not randomly kill their own people. Members of Detachment 88 were also brought in to hunt for the unidentified attackers (http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/74433/anti-terror-police-mobilized-to-hunt-opm-separatists).
Another shoot out also took place in the Tanah Hitam mountain on Tuesday 16 August after the banned Morning Star flag was raised a day before Indonesia Independence Day According to witnesses a shootout ensued after a joint team of police and military officers arrived to take it down. Papua police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wachyono said the joint forces were currently sweeping the mountain to find the perpetrators and prevent more incidents from taking place (http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/banned-morning-star-flag-raised-in-papua-shootout-ensues/459625). During the military sweeps of the area police claim they found documents that allegedly belong to the OPM including flags, ammunition of various types , bows and arrows, mobile phones and a list of up to 19 OPM members.
On the 1st September 13 people were arrested in Kotaraja , a by a combined police and military force . Kotaraja is not far from Abepura and Nafri where the military operation had recently taken place They are in police custody in Jayapura. A shot was reported to have been heard in the area during the round up. They are alleged to have been involved in shootings in Nafri and alleged to have caused unrest during an Idul Fitri ceremony that was being held on the premises of Brimob. Sofyan Yoman Socratez from the Baptistist church said they would investigate the incident and would release a formal report to the public next week
A series of articles in the SMH by Tom Allard exposed leaked Kopassus documents which show lists of West Papuans who are supposed to be supporting separatism when in reality they are members of civil society organisations concerned about the human rights situation in West Papua. The leaked Kopassus documents highlight that the level of spying by the Indonesian military on West Papuans is oppressive, with agents spying at every level of West Papuan society. There is an obvious systematic campaign to intimidate both human rights defenders and the West Papuan peoples a whole. The Australia West Papua Association has written to the Australian Government numerous times about our concern re out ties with the Indonesian military. AWPA's latest press release concerning this here.
A report from the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), The University of Sydney, titled "Anatomy of an Occupation: The Indonesian Military in West Papua" by Jim Elmslie and Camellia Webb-Gannon with Peter King analysis's the document and can be found here.
Amnesty International released a number of urgent actions concerning West Papua this month. One concerning Papuan political prisoner Kimanus Wenda who is in urgent need of medical treatment. He has a tumour in his stomach, and needs to be transferred to a hospital to undergo an operation. Prison authorities have refused to pay for his transport and medical costs. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA21/025/2011/en
For Papuan activist Melkianus Bleskadit who has been imprisoned for his involvement in a peaceful protest and for raising an independence flag. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA21/027/2011/en/4b0af081-5d44-4f4c-8081-d075184de347/asa210272011en.html
and for the fears for safety of Human rights defender Yones Douw. (5 August 2011) http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA21/023/2011/en/95040490-098a-445d-81e2-20f94150781e/asa210232011en.html An original Urgent Action concerning Yones was Issued on the 17 June 2011.
The Asian Human Right Commission also released a U/A concerning Medical workers who were criminally charged for protests over their income.
The 42nd Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is being held in Auckland , starting 6 September. AWPA wrote to the PIF leaders in June asking that they grant observer status to genuine representatives of the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self determination. AWPA's recent press release re PIF here.
An article by Maire Leadbeater from the Indonesia Human Rights Committee re PIF here.
The ICG released a new briefing paper on West Papua, "Indonesia: Hope and Hard Reality in Papua" found here.
Reports of shooting in Paniai
JUBI, 17 August 2011
On 17 August, at 1.55 am, there was the sound of gunfire in Pagepota and Uwibutu, two kampungs that are not far from Madi, the capital of the district of Paniai. There were no reports of any casualties, however. From another source in Paniai, it was reported that at 5am, armed civilian groups believed to be part of the TPN/OPM were using two locations in the vicinity of Madi as their base from which to attack the Indonesian army and police based in Madi. This is near the building in which the DPRD Paniai has its office. As a result of the fact that the areas are now under the control of armed civilian groups, people living in Madi are unable to travel anywhere because it is through these areas that people travel back and forth from Madi to Enaro and Bibida.The gunfire stopped for a while but was heard again between 5am and 7am, then at 9.30am and then later in Enarotali. Two days earlier, spokesmen for the Synod of the KINGMI Church and the Catholic Church in Paniai said that they were very worried about the security situation in Paniai during the past few days. They said that reports of armed conflict between the TPN/OPM and the security forces have worried the population and some people have even decided to leave their homes in search of somewhere safer. (From Tapol).
Arrival of troops spread panic, say church personnel
Jubi, 23 August 2011
The dispatch of troops by air and land via Nabire has caused panic in Paniai, said a nun working for the Catholic Church in Paniai who did not want her name to be made public. The people from Paniai had just returned home following a firefight between TPN/OPM fighters and the security forces but left their homes again when they saw heavily armed Brimob troops arriving in the town, she said. A church official said that some of those who had fled after the shooting had not returned home and their present whereabouts were not known. 'We think that some of them have fled to far-away kampungs. and dont want to return to the town which is full of heavily armed troops whose presence is very frightening,' the official said. They would only come back when the town had been cleared of the troops. The church official said they were refusing to come back because they knew that the fighting had been a put-up job and they didn't want to become casualties. 'They have very good reason to be afraid,' the official said, 'because they know that the security forces have arrested a number of school children from the SMP and SMA [lower and upper middle schools] as well as some other young people. These youngsters were interrogated then ordered to do push-ups. They were only released, after we went to the police station and asked for them to be released.' (From Tapol)
Papua MIFEE Project Faces Criticism
5 August, 2011 WIB TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:
The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) Program has been accused of disenfranchising local farmers in Papua. Berry N. Furqon, director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said that more than 100,000 ha of forest had been cut down for the project, including the sago forest on which the locals depend upon. Abet Nego Tarigan, executive director of Sawit Watch, called on the United Nations to cancel the project. Abet said the MIFEE could endanger Indonesia as it allows companies rather than farmers to control the food supply. The MIFEE project was inaugurated by Agriculture Minister Suswono on August 11 last year. The program sees plantations in Merauke managed by companies that also manage the local farmers. One million ha, divided in five clusters, has been allocated for the program. As many as 32 companies have obtained principle licenses and will operate in a range of plantation sectors, namely palm oil, sugar cane and corn among others. Companies that have invested in the program include Wilmar, Sinarmas, Bakrie Sumatera Plantation, Medco, Bangun Cipta Sarana and Artha Graha. NUR ROCHMI
Ecosystem in Merauke must be preserved, says agricultural expert
JUBI, 11 August 2011
The District of Merauke has a very rich ecosystem which needs to be preserved and protected. The problem is that when forests are cleared, this damages much of the ecosystem and virtually destroys it. Drs Sudirman, an agricultural expert at the provincial administration of Merauke district, speaking during a technical guidance event in Wasur, said that as the population increases, land will be cleared everywhere which will have a very damaging impact on the ecosystem in forested regions. 'One example: When forests were cleared to make way for the MIFEE (Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) project, recently, a significant part of the ecosystem was lost and much of is it already dead. It is the responsibility of everyone concerned to think about the best way to deal with this problem so as to ensure that the ecosystem is not damaged.' he said. He said that the TH Wasur region in particular has a large number of species which means that it is the responsibility of everyone, including the original inhabitants of the district, to play their part in preserving the ecosystem. These people shouldn't e arrested or shot.
Forests in Papua are valued at $78 billion
The Jakarta Post, Jayapura 08/24/2011
Jayapura: Forests in Papua, which cover 42 million hectares, are estimated to be worth US$78 billion, or about Rp 700 trillion, according to Papuan caretaker governor Syamsul Arief Rivai. Speaking at a meeting with regents and mayors from throughout Papua, in Jayapura on Monday, Syamsul said: “If the forests are managed properly and sustainably, they can produce over 500 million cubic meters of logs per annum. Monday’s meeting was held as part of the framework of signing changes in the mapping of Papuan forests linked to the province’s spatial planning revision. Changes in spatial planning are expected to become the best reference in the exploitation of forests aimed at supporting development activities in the area. “We have to increase our efforts to safeguard the forests from any damaging actions for the sake of future generations,” Syamsul said. The governor further said that at least 400 villages have been identified as lying in preservation forest areas; over 1,300 villages are situated within producing and conservation forests on the lowlands; and over 600 villages are based in forests about 1,000 meters above sea level.
Buchtar Tabuni released from prison
Bintang Papua, 17 August 2011
Sentani: Buchtar Tabuni, the chairman of KNPB, the West Papua National Committee was one of 656 prisoners in Papua to receive remission of his sentence, granted to prisoners on the occasion of the anniversary of Indonesia's independence on 17 August 1945. While other prisoners were eagerly awaiting news of something they have been waiting for for a very long time, Buchtar said he regarded his remission as an 'insult' for the people of West Papua. The remission of three months meant that his incarceration has come to an end. Speaking to his many supporters who were there to welcome him at the prison gate, Buchtar said that hr does not recognised this independence day because 'our ancestors never fought for an Indonesian government but fought for the Melanesian people. 'He said that the remission was merely an attempt by the Indonesian government to improve its reputation on the international stage. 'They think that with my release on this day, it means that I will show my love and affection for Indonesia, but that is not so. I will continue my struggle for this nation even more radically than before,' he said, to the cheers of his supporters. He used the occasion to congratulate the Indonesian government on the anniversary, and went on to ask the government to give its support to the Papuan people who are yearning for their independence. Following his release, Buchtar was accompanied on his way home by scores of his supporters. The convoy of vehicles accompanying him on his way home in Sentani caused serious traffic congestion but the situation remained calm.
Timorese students support West Papua. Three arrested in Dili.
From ETAN. A friend in Dili tells ETAN that police recently broke up a demonstration in support of West Papua. As we get more information, we will post updates on ETAN's blog here. The morning of August 17, more than 30 Timorese students called for the right of West Papuan to self-determination and condemned human right violation by the Indonesian military and police against Papuans. The demonstration took place in front of Indonesia Embassy in Farol, Dili, on the 66th anniversary of Indonesia's independence proclamation. Timor-Leste Police (PNTL) arrested three of the protesters -- Juventina Correia Ximenes, Domingos de Andrade and Letornino da Silva. All are currently studying at Timor-Lorosae National University, UNTL. One of demonstrator, Nolasco Mendes, said that the PNTL treated the activists brutally. Police reportedly arrested the activist after the Indonesia Embassy asked the PNTL to stop the demonstration. According to a T imornewsline report the pro-Papua protesters were members of the Students Solidarity Council (Dewan Solidaritas Mahasiswa Timor-Leste) which previously fought for Timor-Leste's independence. Timor-Leste has a strict law on demonstrations which among other things requires four days notice and bans them within 100 yards of a government or diplomatic building.
Pacific Forum leaders told they can't ignore conflict in Papua
RNZI 31 August, 2011
The Pacific Islands Forum is being told it must speak out about the ongoing instability in the Indonesian region of Papua. Groups representing the indigenous Melanesian people of Papua are calling for them to be given observer status at next week’s Forum summit in Auckland. Pacific leaders once spoke out about the violence and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indonesia military in Papua, but have ignored the issues for the past four years. The spokesperson for the Australian West Papua Association, Joe Collins, says the Forum has to realise these abuses have been going on for many years and it’s a matter that won’t go away. He says the Forum is a key regional agency and can’t forget about Papua. “How can you talk about security in the region if you do not actually take on one of the last conflict areas in the Pacific and this is actually West Papua. I mean they [the Forum] are a key regional organisation and by ignoring West Papua, they are showing that they are basically afraid of the issue of West Papua.”