Papua, Jubi – The Indonesian government is furious over the Oxford City Council’s decision to award West Papuan activist Benny Wenda the Honorary Freedom of the City accolade, reports Kumparan.
“Indonesia strongly condemns the award by the Oxford City Council for this person,” said the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry in a written statement.
The ministry said that giving the award to Wenda showed that the Oxford Council did not “fully understand the real situation” in Papua and West Papua provinces. It also said that the council did not understand Wenda’s behaviour.
“Giving an award to this person shows the Oxford City Council’s lack of understanding about the behaviour of this person and the real situation in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, including the development and advances there,” the ministry said.
“Indonesia’s position on the “separatist” movement remained firm. We will not retreat one centimetre in upholding the [sovereignty of the] RI [Republic of Indonesia],” it said.
In relation to the award, the British government said that it did not mean that the government supported Papuan independence.
“We support Indonesia’s territorial integrity and Papua as part of Indonesia,” said the British Foreign Affairs Department as quoted by BBC News.
“Politically, the position of local councils are independent of the central government, so this represents the authority of the Oxford City Council,” the department said.
The City Council awarded Oxford-based Wenda its highest honour in recognition of his tireless fight for West Papuan self-determination.
In a press release it said that “Oxford residents and the City Council have taken up the cause for their own.”
Wenda meanwhile said that he appreciated being given the award saying that it showed that Oxford City was concerned about justice and human rights for the Papuan people.
“This award shows that the people of Oxford have listened and responded,” he said. (*)
Translated by James Balowski of the Indoleft News service. The original title of the article was “Indonesia Kecam Kota Oxford Berikan Penghargaan kepada Benny Wenda”.
Thousands of Papuan joins the rally condemning racism
Jubi, Papua – Monday, 19 Augusts 2019. Thousands of students from the Faculty of Social and Political Science of the University of Cenderawasih closed the university’s gate, the only access to its Waena Campus in Perumnas 3, Heram Sub-district of Jayapura Municipality.
The gate became the point of a mass rally in responding to the acts of violence and racism against Papuan students in Malang and Surabaya a few days ago. In addition to the University of Cenderawasih, masses also gathered at some points in Expo Waena, the University of Science and Technology Jayapura, Abepura suburb and Jayapura City
Thousands of Papuan communities of different backgrounds ranging from students, KNPB activists, community-based organisations, the association of regional student dormitories in Jayapura, and ordinary people including children, joined the rally. Their number grew bigger and bigger as people united the crowd on the road. Walking and riding motorbikes, they walked towards the governor’s office located in the central of Jayapura City.
Before reaching their end, first, the crowd stopped by the office of Papua’s People Assembly (MRP) in Kotaraja. There, Victor Yeimo, the KNPB spokesperson for international affairs, asked assembly members to join the crowd.
“If MRP wants to protect the dignity of Papuans, let’s join us. Indonesia mocked us by calling Papuans ‘monkey’. This humiliation was not coming from the local mob, but soldiers and the police as well,” said Yeimo, who was the General Chairman of the Central KNPB in his five-minutes oration.
The crowd then continued their long march passing Skyland and Entrop roads. All Papuans whose houses nearby were very supportive of the protesters by giving bottled mineral water. They also showed their support by clenching their hand and yelling ‘free Papua nation’. Along the road, people chanted “we are nor red and white, but the morning star” and yell out ‘freedom’ and ‘referendum for Papua’, while around hundreds of police and dozens of military personnel stayed close to them.
When the crowd arrived in Taman Imbi in the central of Jayapura City, hundreds of protesters made up activists, residents and youth communities have waited for them. Meanwhile, hundreds of police officers also deployed to the scene. All stores and shopping centres in Jayapura City mostly closed.
The city almost entirely occupied by indigenous people. Only one or two non-Papuans appeared standing near the protesters. Jayapura City, the centre of business where homes for mostly non-Papuans, seemed entirely belong to Papuans. “This is our land. If they call us ‘monkey’, Indonesia must get out from here,” yelled the crowd.
Finally, the crowd arrived in the governor’s office where Governor Lukas Enembe already waited. It took seven hours for them to walk 16 kilometres from Waena to the governor’s office. Here, students, youth and customary leaders alternately gave speeches in front of the crowd.
People incessantly hailed the name of Victor Yeimo asking him to speak. Along with some other activities, he got on the stage. The audience cheered on him. “Papuaaaa?” he screamed over the crowd. “Freedom!” the group replied. He repeated the same yell three times.
In front of the crowd, Yeimo stated that today was a big moment for Papuans. People gathered together for not only about racism against Papuan students in Java, but many factors that accumulated into Papuans’ outrage.
“We are gathering here for not only because we are called ‘monkey’. Moreover, but also justice for our brothers in Nduga who fled to the jungle. We urge the Indonesian government to investigate the human rights violations that had never settled. We ask them to stop exploiting our natural resources and forests!” said Yeimo. Further, he said Papuan people no longer care about infrastructure development because it was not what they asked. “Road constructions have damaged our forest! What about Special Autonomy? Does it give us benefits for the last 19 years running in Papua,” he added.
Then, the Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe got on the stage to express his anxiety on what was happening to Papuan students in East Java. We are not descendants of apes. Therefore, I deeply regret why in Indonesia, which is already 74 years old, there are people still acting small-minded like that. Malaysia is a lot better, though they are from the same root, Malay,” he said.
In addition to his children who are studying overseas, he said his administration sends more than a thousand Papuan students to study abroad. “So, we have dignity. I stated to the Governor of East Java that Papuans love Gus Dur (former president from East Java origin – red) as he loved us. Gus Dur was very protective towards Papuans in East Java. Why did Banser (Ansor Front) not deployed to calm down the mob persecuting Papuan students yesterday?” he questioned.
Moreover, Enembe also released a five-points statement on behalf of the Papuan Government. First, it says that the Provincial Government of Papua expresses its anxiety and concern about the incidents in Surabaya, Semarang and Malang, which caused the arrest of Papuan students by security forces. The provincial government also appreciates the legal enforcement by the security force when it’s done proportionally, professional and fairly. The security forces were expected not to neglect persecution or any vigilant acts either by groups or individuals that potentially hurt the feeling of Papuans. People should avoid doing oppressive actions that can cause casualties, political conflicts and destroy the spirit of nationalism among citizens.
Second, Papua is the territory of the Republic of Indonesia, known as the real miniature of Indonesia. It represents the diversity of Indonesian multi-ethnic, cultures, and religions living in harmony. The indigenous people of Papua welcome and treat non-Papuans with respect and equality. Therefore, we wish that Papuans are treated in the same respect in many parts of Indonesia. This should become our mutual commitment as a nation to create a peaceful Indonesia that politically, economically and culturally safe for everyone.
Third, the Provincial Government of Papua asks all Papuan communities in Papua Province and other provinces in Indonesia to respond to the incidents in Surabaya, Semarang and Malang appropriately without any single act violating the cultural norms and laws.
Four, we expect non-Papuan communities throughout Indonesia to maintain peace and not to conduct unconstitutional acts such as persecution, oppression, racism, discrimination, intolerance and other actions that can harm the feeling of Papuan communities and disturb the tolerance and harmony among citizens. In our 74th anniversary, we should not let the acts of intolerance, racism and discrimination in our country.
Finally, as the Governor of Papua, I invite all governors, regents, and mayors throughout Indonesia to protect Papuan students who studying in their regions, as much as we do to non-Papuan students and communities in our region. This is our mutual effort to prevent a similar incident occurred in the future as well as to maintain our nationalism, unity and togetherness as a nation.
Meanwhile, the General Chairman of the Central KNPB Agus Kossay stated the rally was a manifestation of Papuan peoples’ perception towards the meaning of 74 years of Indonesian independence which they found it useless due to racism. It shows that Papua is not part of Indonesia. They said we were monkeys. And the statement came from military and police culprits. So, lets us get out of Indonesia,” he said.
Further, he continued that they want all Papuan students studying in Java will be guaranteed safe. “If there is no guarantee, a similar incident might be repeated. When it happens, it would be better sending them home,” he said.
People were still gathering in the lawn of the governor’s office until 6 p.m. They were gradually dispersed and going home at around 7 p.m. (*)
Reporter: Kristianto Galuwo
Editor: Pipit Maizier
A story of Nduga refugees: giving birth in the jungle
Jayawijaya, Jubi – The shooting over some construction workers of PT Istaka Karya in Yigi, Nduga Regency on 2 December 2018 has still left a scarce in the heart of local people. They are now still living with physical and mental injuries.
Among many innocent victims and refugees, there is a young woman who is leaving with trauma. She previously chose to not living her village located in Mugi sub-district when the incident occurred in the early of December 2018. But the twenty-one aged woman had to make a decision. With six children whom one was still inside her womb, at that time she was in two months pregnant, she must flee to a safer place.
“My husband went first and took two our children to a safer place,” she told Jubi in a refugee camp settled in Jayawijaya on Saturday (3/8/2019).
But when her village was surrounded with gunfire and house burning, terrifying she decided to take her other three children to the forest since January 2019. Like other refugees, she and her family eat what they could find in the jungle to survive. “Sometimes, we ate leaves or whatever we can fund to stay alive,” she said.
She lived for nearly six months in the jungle that made her not aware of her time to give birth. One day she experienced bleeding and chose to take a rest. Then in the evening, she gave birth to a boy without assistance from anyone. “The baby was born under a big tree. I was alone. My family came when it just has done,” she said.
Because of a difficult time while in the jungle, she thought her baby was not safe in her womb. “I thought this boy already dead. But when I pushed my belly down, he still alive. It’s all God blessing,” she said.
After taking birth, she took fern leaves that she found in the jungle to wrap her baby’s body. If the weather was remarkably cold, she counts on the campfire and would hold him close to her body. After spending days in the jungle with her baby, she continued to walk and arrived in her family’s house in Jayawijaya where she lives now in June 2019.
When Jubi came to see her, her son remains not wearing clothes. She admitted that she and her family still do not want to accept the government’s aid because the military helps its distribution. Until now, she is still traumatic seeing soldiers.
“I witnessed the soldiers shot my family. It made me scared of them. Soon when they heard gunfire, people run away. But I witnessed that incident. I am traumatized by the sound of gunfire,” she said.
Now, she only counts on her breast milk to feed her son, though sometimes it’s not enough.
Meanwhile, another woman who came to the refugee camp earlier said she and the other three families flee because soldiers have come to their village.
“We had to sleep in a cave. There was no tent or shelter to cover us. After we felt a bit safer, we built a hut from woods and leaves in the jungle. While for food, we counted on leaves we found to be cooked” she said.
For this article, Jubi met a woman who was also pregnant when fleeing from her village and gave birth to her eighth child in the forest. “My baby is a girl. She was born in the refugee shelter,” she said.
Every day she saw the armed conflict between the Papua liberation army and the Indonesian military. Like other refugees, she and her family also count on what they found to survive.
“When I was tired to walk while in the running to avoid gunfire, I ever thought it was fine if I got shot but not my child. She must stay alive even I was shot dead,” she said. (*)
Reporter: Islami Adisubrata
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Papuan students’ rally protesting New York Agreement in Malang ended in a riot
Jayapura, Jubi – Students joined the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and People’s Front of Indonesia conducted a peace rally in Malang on Thursday morning (15/8/2019). The protest ended in a riot after a local mob came to the scene.
John Gobay, the Chairman of Central AMP, confirmed the incident involved a local mob and Papuan students in Malang. He said it occurred at around 9:00 p.m. at the local time when the students conducted a rally in Jalan Basuki Rahmat approached by the local mob.
“The mob shouted at the students. They have beaten them with helmet, mocked and called them with some animal’s name. They also threw stones and kicked the students. Police were there when the incident happened, but they did not do anything. They only asked the mob to disperse when they saw some students have injured because of the torture,” said Gobay.
According to him, five students reportedly injured. Further, he admitted that some students also threw the stones back the mob. “Some protesters threw back the stones. The police were already on the scene with three motorbikes and a police truck,” he said. However, some police personnel on the scene later grew.
“They then directed the injured students to get on the police ambulance though there was an ambulance from a public hospital,” said Gobay.
Besides the police, he said a military vehicle came to the scene. The truck drove racing and almost hit the protesters. “One of the protesters were arrested by the police, while our friend Niko Jigibalom was still reportedly missing.”
Meanwhile, an activist who involved in the rally, Pangkrasia Yeem, explained the rally is to protest against the New York Agreement which considered a beginning of many human rights violations in Papua. The New York Agreement is a treaty signed by the Netherlands and Indonesian Governments on 15 August 1962. “Papua becomes integrated with Indonesia because of a unilateral agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands,” said Yeem.
He also accused this agreement had neglected the right of indigenous Papuans when it was signed. “The New York Agreement is a treaty of fraud, an instrument of annexation, murder and genocide against the West Papuan Nation by scarifying West Papuans. Therefore, we ask the governments of the Netherlands, Indonesia, and the United States as well as the United Nations to take responsibility immediately for the people of West Papua,” explained Yeem.
In this sense, Gobay said the statement that Indonesia has taken control over Papua was not a mistake. Indonesia had violated the New York Agreement, which stated that the Papua’s self-determination in 1969 should involve all Papuans. Ironically, Indonesia also signed a contract with Freeport McMoRan on 7 April 1967.
“The contract with Freeport signed before the public vote of 1969 conducted. In 1969, there were 809.337 Papuans who recorded as legal voters, but the vote ended with1, 026 voters who had previously been quarantined by the Indonesian Government. Therefore, on the 56th anniversary of the New York Agreement, we demand the Jokowi-Kalla administration, the Netherlands, the United States as well as the United Nations to immediately grant the right to self-determination for Papuan people,” said Gobay.
Furthermore, the Papuan protesters also urge the Government of Indonesia to immediately close down the mining activities of giant transnational companies in Papua, including Freeport, BP and LNG Tangguh. They also ask the United States to be responsible for advocating the New York Agreement that accused as the gate of oppressive acts by the Indonesian security force against Papuans.
Moreover, in their protest, the students asked the Government of Indonesia to determine Papua as a free military zone and to guarantee the freedom of Papuans to gather and express their opinion in public. They also asked the government to allow foreign journalists to cover the issue of Papua. Lastly, the students expressed their supports towards the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) that conducted on 13-16 August 2019 in Tuvalu. In this forum, the Pacific leaders are planning to address the West Papua issue. (*)
Reporter: Hengky Yeimo
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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