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”.
DVI Team identifies 10 victims of crashed MI-17 helicopter
Jayapura, Jubi – Some 10 out of the 12 victims of the MI-17 helicopter that had crashed on Mount Mandala, Oksob Sub-district, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province, have been identified, according to a spokesman.
The victims were identified from their uniform, Col. Infantry Binsar Sianipar, commander of the military regional command (Korem) 172/PWY, stated on Saturday.
Only two victims could not be identified owing to the condition of their bodies. The police’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team will identify them, he added.
Sianipar is currently leading the operation to evacuate victims of the crashed MI-17 helicopter.
The 10 identified bodies belong to 1st Lt Ahwar, the copilot; 2nd Sgt Dita Ilham; Capt. Bambang, the flight engineer; Capt Haris Afik, the pilot; Chief Sgt Suryatna, T/I; 1st Private Asharul, the mechanic; 2nd Private Sudjono Kaimudin; 2nd Private Yanuar; 1st Private Risno; and 2nd Private Tegar.
The Russia-made military helicopter, operated by the Indonesian Army Aviation Center, with 12 passengers aboard, including five members of the 725 Infantry Battalion/WRG, went missing during its flights from Oksibil to Sentani, Papua, on June 28, 2019.
The ill-fated helicopter is believed to be in a mountainous area at 12,500 feet above sea level, with a slope of around 90 degrees, or perpendicular.
A helicopter, earlier deployed to locate the Mi-17 helicopter, managed to spot it only once while being airborne and was compelled to return to Oksibil owing to bad weather, Sianipar stated, adding that most likely, the rescuers must head to the location on foot. (*)
Bad weather caused Indonesian Army’s MI-17 crash in Papua
Jayapura, Jubi – The Indonesian Army’s Mi-17 helicopter that crashed on Mount Mandala in Oksop Sub-district, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province, and killed 12 people aboard, was owing to bad weather, according to an official.
“I think the pilot had attempted to re-direct the helicopter to the original location due to foggy weather, but when the helicopter turned, it crashed into the mountain,” Major General Herman Asaribab, commander of the Regional Military Command (Pangdam) XVII/Cenderawasih, remarked here on Saturday.
In response to the press’ questions, he noted that the weapons carried by the fallen military officers were being kept by local hunters and the weapons would be returned to the authorities.
“The local residents will return the weapons of the military officers killed in the helicopter accident,” he said.
The commander, who visited the Police’s Bhayangkara Hospital to see the bodies of the fallen officers and meet their family members, expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
The helicopter reportedly lost contact during its flight from Oksibli to Sentani on June 28, 2019. Since the day it went missing, search efforts have been steadily made to locate the helicopter by involving a Bell Helicopter 206 and Bell Helicopter 412 bearing registration number HA-5177.
However, the SAR’s efforts to locate the missing helicopter had been hindered by factors, including erratic weather conditions and difficulties on ground due to inaccessibility to roads.
The MI-17 helicopter, bearing registration number HA-5138, was carrying 12 passengers and crew members on board, which had earlier flown to Okbibab to deliver logistics to soldiers serving in the area.
The crew members aboard the helicopter were pilots CPN Captain Aris and CPN Lieutenant Bambang, co-pilot First Lieutenant CPN Ahwar, Head Sergeant Suriyatna, Sergeant Dita, Head Private Dwi Purnomo, and Private Aharul.
The passengers, who were members of the Battalion 725/WRG, comprised Second Sergeant Ikrar Setya Nainggolan, Private Yanuarius Loe, Private Risno, Second Private Sujono Kaimuddin, and Second Private Tegar Hadi Sentana. (*)
Stop criminalization over Papuan activists and free political prisoners
Jayapura, Jubi – The rights of freedom of expression in the second administration period of President Joko Widodo have still in concern to human rights activists. Democracy index 2019 released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) put the democracy in Indonesia is the category of flawed democracy with index 6.48.
“One of the factors contributing to this low rate index is control and repressive acts such as the restriction over freedom of assembly and expression. The restriction of civil movements including student’s rally, criminalization against activists, farmers and students to restriction on freedom of expression on political free choice of indigenous Papuans,” said the Deputy Director of ELSAM (Institute of Human Rights Studies and Advocacy) Andi Muttaqien in a release received by Jubi on Saturday (8/2/2020).
According to him, the restriction against the freedom of political expression of indigenous Papuans has raised an assumption that the Government of Indonesia had been placing Papuans as “the second-class citizen” who has no rights to express their political view and opinion.
“The human rights issue and conflict in Papua has endured for decades and never been solved until today. The central government seems to neglect indigenous Papuans to be minorities and marginalized in their own land. The security forces have acted repressively to any forms of the political expression of indigenous Papuans by giving them a stigma as a separatist,” he said.
Based on monitoring and documentation conducted by ELSHAM in the second quarter (August-December) of 2019, the criminalization against the Papuan political activists has increased drastically. The security forces have massively seized Papuans on many occasions. These acts have mostly ended in the arrestation and detention of Papuans.
ELSHAM’s data showed that as per 28 January 2020, there are 100 Papuan political prisoners behind bars.
Earlier, Papuan Behind Bars confirmed 26 political prisoners detained in Papua in 2018, consisted of 25 indigenous Papuans and a journalist of Poland national Jakob Skrzypski. But, the number of political prisoners in 2019 has sharply increased to 77 new prisoners who arrested in civil demonstrations during August and September 2019. The increase happened concerning the incident of racist taunts towards Papuan students on Monday, 16 August 2019.
There are also some cases against Papuan political activists which seized public attention. It includes the case against Septi Meidogda (Gempar Papua Chairman) arrested in Manokwari on 18 September 2019 and charged with Information (ITE) Law by accusing him to provoke the public on Facebook dated 17 September 2019.
Then, the case of Mispo Gwijangge who accused to murder 30 construction workers in Nduga on 2 December 2018. There are flawed aspects related to his arrest, such as he does not understand Indonesian and only speak his local dialect. Mispo is illiterate. He cannot write, read and count nor able to specify the day or date. He does not know his date of birth and his age. During the investigation, he even did not understand any questions posed by the police officers.
Next, the case involved six political prisoners Surya Anta, Charles Kossay, Dano Tabuni, Issay Wenda, Ambrosius Mulait and Ariana Elopere who currently detained at Salemba prison, Jakarta for treason because of raising the Morning Star in front of the Presidential Palace on 28 August 2019. The police arrested them two days after the rally. Currently, most political prisoners are undergoing the trial at court. However, some prisoners are now in home-detention, while others are still in prison.
“The use of treason article and ITE Law against Papuan political prisoners are exaggerated and not necessary. Therefore, each person who considered doing the treason act and brought to court should be released,” he said.
ELSHAM considers that the restriction to the rights of freedom of expression imposed by the treason article has gone beyond the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which ratified by the Indonesian Government. The detention against citizens by state because of their political view also considered violating the rights to freedom of expression and opinion in which protected by Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution and other laws.
“President Jokowi should instruct the Attorney General to immediately stop or withdraw all charges against defendants and or Papuan political prisoners who accused with treason and ITE articles,” he said.
ELSHAM also asked the Indonesian Police Chief to order his staff to use a dialogical approach and stop all forms of discrimination against Papuan activists. (*)
Reporter: Yance Wenda
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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