Papua, Jubi – Indonesia will use a landmark business and trade exposition next week in New Zealand to launch a fresh diplomatic push in the Pacific, as the Southeast Asian nation continues to face regional scrutiny over alleged human rights abuses in West Papua.
The Pacific Exposition, which will take place in Auckland from July 11-14, is expected to bring together the foreign ministers of Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia, as well as senior government officials from across Polynesia and Melanesia. A bilateral agreement is to be signed with the Cook Islands at the same time.
The event is the latest foray in a determined diplomatic outreach in the Pacific region that Indonesia’s government of Joko Widodo has overseen in the past few years.
Jakarta has made no bones about its aim of greater connectivity with a region that has been critical of Indonesian administration of restive Papua. The Auckland expo is the strongest sign yet of Indonesia’s intent.
Pitched as a trade, investment and tourism forum, it will involve dozens of government and private sector representatives from several Pacific Island countries, with most of their expenses paid for by the Indonesian government.
“The exposition is also the first step towards connecting goods and people of the Pacific and Southeast Asia,” reads a flier for the event.
Indonesian embassy officials — who in April quietly toured several Pacific nations to drum up support for the forum — said it has been well-received across the region. Still, according to one person who has advised embassy officials, Vanuatu’s government has refused to attend, the only Pacific nation approached to do so.
The person, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter, said Indonesia also hoped to establish a trade “hub” in one Pacific Island country which it could use to facilitate the flow of goods throughout the region.
Although Indonesian embassy officials stressed that the event was apolitical and trade-focused, they said they were worried it would be protested by activists and advocates critical of Indonesia’s handling of human rights in Papua. Local government officials from Papua and West Papua will be in attendance and stalls promoting investment in the two provinces will be set up as part of the trade show.
It comes as Papua has reentered the spotlight, after an escalating war between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesia’s military forces since December sent the Central Highlands region into chaos.
Rights group estimate tens of thousands have been displaced by the violence — which was sparked in part by the massacre of at least 16 Indonesian construction workers by the Liberation Army in Nduga regency. Disputed accounts from military forces and rebel fighters indicate dozens on both sides have been killed in ongoing skirmishes.
High level attendance
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who is expected to attend the expo alongside his Australian counterpart Marise Payne, last month said he would raise concerns over human rights abuses in West Papua with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi. It is unclear whether talks would take place during the exposition, and the offices of Mr Peters and Ms Payne did not respond to emailed questions.
Senior Indonesian cabinet members have in recent months openly talked about influencing the Pacific Islands into supporting its claims over Papua.
In September, local media reported Indonesia’s top security minister, Wiranto, as proposing $US4 million in funding toward convincing South Pacific nations that Jakarta was promoting development in Papua. He also invited the leaders of Vanuatu and Nauru to see the positive work in Papua for themselves. Neither took up his offer.
Ms Marsudi, the Foreign Minister, recently said her country considers the Pacific Islands as “family”, noting that technical cooperation and capacity building with regional countries will grow significantly in the coming years.
Despite their strong ties with New Zealand, Niue and the Cook Islands have been in Indonesia’s sights and bilateral relations are expected to open for the first time in the coming weeks. In March, while pitching the opening of ties to Indonesia’s House of Representatives, Ms Marsudi said the two countries did not support “separatism” in Papua.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna will be attending the exposition next week — the only head of state to do so — and an official with his office said a cooperation agreement would be signed on July 12 in Rarotonga. Niue Premier Sir Toke Talagi was also slated to attend the event and sign a similar agreement but illness has reportedly expected to prevent him from attending.
Among those attending will be New Zealand Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Maori Development Minister, Nanaia Mahuta. According to a draft agenda of the event, Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Semisi Lafu Kioa Sika is also expected to attend. Tonga’s Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva is a vocal supporter of West Papuan self-determination aims. His government advocates for the relisting of West Papua on the agenda of the UN Decolonisation Committee so that there is UN oversight over the human rights of West Papuans. Vanuatu is preparing a UN resolution along these lines, but will be hard pushed to gain majority support in the General Assembly, given Indonesia’s growing influence.
The appearance of high level officials will be a boon for Indonesia’s investment pitch to the Pacific, a region where strategic competition between Western powers and China has overshadowed Indonesia’s growing economy and regional leadership ambitions.
A Western diplomatic source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Indonesia had “relentlessly pursued” Pacific Island nations into attending the event, adding that its no-expenses-spared policy of providing travel and accomodation costs to delegates had likely encouraged many to attend. (*)
Hundreds of people were detained in Papua ahead to 1 December
Jayapura, Jubi – Around 112 people were arrested by police in several towns of Papua and Papua Barat provinces within a week ahead to 1 December 2019 under the treason article concerning the Morning Star flag-raising.
Five days before 1 December which commemorated as the Papuan political manifesto by Papuans, a young Papuan activist Pilipus Robaha arrested by police in his house on 26 November 2019. The police questioned him in association with a letter posting on social media appealing people to attend the commemoration worship of 1 December at Trikora Square. Lack of evidence to accuse his involvement connected to the report, the police released him the next day.
A day after his arrest, the police detained eight people in Manokwari at around 3 in the afternoon of local time. The Regional Police Chief of Papua Barat Province, Brigadier General Herry Rudolf Nahak, said during the police seized twenty-nine big-sized Morning Star flags, some posters and pamphlets and two cars.
“During the interrogation, these eight people admitted that they participated in the event after reading the pamphlet about a rally at Borasi Square, Manokwari on Wednesday morning,” said the police chief.
Until Thursday (5/12/2019), they are still under the custody of Manokwari Police. So far, the police declared none of these eight persons named suspects. However, the police have charged seven detainees under the treason article, according to Yan Warinussy, the Executive Director of Legal Aid Research, Study and Development Study (LP3BH) Manokwari. Meanwhile, another one only named as a witness.
Another arrest occurred in Sentani City of Jayapura Regency. The police detained thirty-four people on Saturday evening (30/11/2019) while marching towards Trikora Square, Abepura to participate in a flag-raising ceremony. The police also accused them as the members of the West Papuan National Liberation Army from Demta sub-district and Sarmi Regency after finding evidence of their membership cards.
Jayapura Police Chief Adjunct Commissionaire Victor Makbon said “We already released fourteen of them, but twenty people have named suspects. We charged six of them under the Emergency Law on the possession of sharp weapons and the Treason Article 106 and Article 2 verse (1) of the Criminal Code.”
In the meantime, there are 13 people charged under the Treason Article 106 of the Criminal Code, while one also charged under the Treason Article 106 and Article 160 on incitement.
Regarding this case, Yohanis Mambrasaar, a lawyer from Papua Human Rights Advocates Association (PAHAM), confirmed that the report on twenty people charged for treason. Currently, he said PAHAM is preparing the power of attorney to provide legal assistance for detainees.
Separately, the police arrested four students at Gembala Baik Church in Abepura on Sunday Morning. Marvin Yobe, Desepianus Dumupa, Paul Halapok and Devion Tekege wore the Papuan highland traditional clothes and pained their bodies with the Morning Star pattern. They also brought the Morning Star flags to the Church during the worship time.
The arrested student Desepianus Dumupa said the purpose of their act was to ask God for freedom. “Our purpose carrying the flag in the worship was to ask God’s help, ask Him to liberate our nation,” said Dumupa.
However, the police then released these four students after being interrogated until 1 morning on Monday. They first questioned at Abepura Police Headquarters, then at Jayapura Police Headquarters after the police had not found any evidence at their accommodation.
By Monday morning, the police called Father James Kosay who led the worship at Gembala Baik Church on 1 December to question related to the arrest of four students. “At the time of arrest, there were twenty police officers, both without and with uniform, entered the church during the worship that made people panic,” said Father James.
A day before the incident in Gembala Baik Church, the police also called Markus Haluk, the Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in connection with The Call for Communal Worship on 1 December 2019. The police interrogated Haluk with twenty-nine questions for six hours.
Another detain also occurred in Fakfak. The local police of Fakfak arrested 54 people in Warpa, Pikpik and Mabuni-Buni villages of Kayauni sub-district at around 3 in the afternoon on Sunday (1/12/2019). The police accused them intending to raise the Morning Star flag at the residence of Fakfak Regent. Also, the police claimed the fifty-four detainees as the members of TPNPB after finding their membership cards during the arrest.
Fakfak Police Chief Ary Nyoto Setiawan said that the Morning Star flag was already raised in Warpa village by twenty-three people with sharp weapons. When the arrest took place, according to the chief, the police also found the amount of IDR 88 million on the scene.
“The money was about to send to their highest rank leader in Jayapura,” said the chief.
Based on their investigation, the police has officially named twenty-three people as suspects.
The Recherche and Crime Investigation Chief of Fakfak Police, Misbahul Munir, said, “ These twenty-three people wanted to come to Fakfak to wave the flag at the official residence of Fakfak Regent.“
A picture of the arrest in Fakfak widely spread in social media
A photo of the arrest in Pikpik village of Fakfak raised criticism among Papuan people following its circulation on social media. In the picture, almost naked, some people tied up together and remained sitting by the road.
“The right word for the picture is slavery. Only those who experienced colonialism can do this. They experienced the same oppression before their independence. So, they want to practice the same thing against the oppressed people,“ said Filep Karma to comment on the photo that goes viral on social media.
However, Fakfak Police has not yet confirmed about the picture. So far, the Recherche and Crime Investigation Chief of Fakfak Police has not answered the phone and WhatsApp message to clarify the photograph allegedly describes the arrest in Pikpik village. However, several Fakfak residents confirmed that the circulated photo about the detain in Pikpik village on 1 December 2019 is valid.
“They arrested on 1 (December). A man with white hair body on chess was my classmate, Yance Hegemur,” said a Fakfak resident by phone to confirm the photograph.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Domberai Customary Council Finsen Mayor also believes the same way. “Yes, it was the picture of the incident on 1 December in Fakfak. They transported to Fakfak Police Headquarters in the evening,” said Mayor.
From Tuesday (26/11/2019) to Wednesday (4/12/2019) afternoon, there are 101 people arrested and interrogated by police in connection to 1 December. So far, 82 people are still detained in Fakfak, Manokwari and Sentani, while the rest already released by police. At least 27 people have named suspects under the treason article, in which twenty people in Sentani and other seven in Manowakri.
In the sense of police acts to anticipate 1 December by arresting Papuans, according to Yan Warinussy, it would only worsen the image of the Indonesian Government among Papuans as Papua has a different historical background to other regions in Indonesia. This recognition is implicitly acknowledged the verse e of the Law 21/2001 about the Special Autonomy for Papua.
“1 December should be used as a milestone to create constructive efforts to straighten the history of Papua by the people of Papua and the state for the sake of peace,” said Warinussy.
He further asserted that every social and political movement of Papuan people, which contain different aspirations, should be responded with the kind response and accommodated through peaceful dialogue. (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Tabi Province, for whom it established?
Jayapura, Jubi – An intellectual youth figure of Tabi Frangklin Wahey said the establishment of new Tabi province does not benefit the people of Tabi.
“This becomes a current big issue for native people in Tabi, and it needs further clarification from a group of regents and mayors who propose new administrative regions. In this sense, I only focus on Tabi region as the capital of Papua Province lay on it. So, I think it is weird if some native Tabi wants a new split regency. I suggest to those who propose this idea to clarify their specific needs and interest behind this,” he said.
As a native Tabi, he questioned why this regional split issue is becoming a critical issue now while did not get any attention during the first administration period.
“I think it is the interest of people who want becoming a governor in Tabi. If you want to be a governor, I suggest that better you provide a good example (to the public) and be prepared to compete (in the election). For the regent and mayor in Tabi region, I ask you to not making this issue complicated because it may disturb the harmony among indigenous Tabi,” he said.
Further, he said politically, the economy and education of indigenous Papuans in Tabi has long been left behind compared to others. If Tabi becomes a new province, it does not make them better. Instead, they will more marginalise.
“We must allow Mr Lukas to run his duty as a current governor and support him for what he has done in Tabi through outstanding development. He has made the region of Tabi a beautiful place. So, I ask the mayor and regent to build good coordination with the governor, provincial parliament and people’s assembly. Because they have authority and capacity to speak on behalf of the public interest in Papua,” he said.
Meanwhile, a native from Tobati Mrs Nonce Hanasbey hopes the government to be more focus on human resources development and local economic empowerment. According to her, it can improve indigenous livelihood and welfare.
“So far, infrastructure development has significantly progressed, and many primary changes have done. It only needs to support indigenous people in using their potential and existing natural resources for assuring these infrastructures benefit for them instead of other groups. (*)
Reporter: Aguz Pabika
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Carrying Morning Star flags in the worship, four students arrested in Church
Jayapura, Jubi – Four students were taken to Abepura Police station while attending Mass at Gembala Baik Catholic Church, Abepura on Sunday (1/12/2019). Wearing the traditional clothes of Papuan highlands, two of them decorated their faces with the pattern of Morning Star.
The four students are Marvin Yobe, Desepianus Dumupa, Paul Halapok and Devion Tekege. “They brought three Morning Star flags,” said Mario, an Abepura resident who was at the worship.
A police officer who not wear uniform at that time stood to arrest the students when they were about to receive the Host, but hold by the congregation asking him to respect the Holly Communion. Then, the police officer took the students out of the Church after seizing their flags.
Among the four, Desepianus Dumupa (26 years old) said their aim bringing the Morning Flags to the Church was to ask God for freedom. “Our purpose coming to the worship with the flags is to ask for help from God. We ask God to give freedom for Papuans,” said Dumupa.
At the meantime, the Director of Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Papua, Emanuel Gobay, said the police took the students to Abepura police station for questioning. During the investigation, Jayapura Police Chief Gustaf Urbunas came and met with the Coalition Team of Papua Legal and Human Rights Advocates who accompanied the four students.
Urbinas stated the four students would be taken to Perumnas III Waena to inspect their accommodation after the examination for searching other evidence. After that, they would go to Jayapura Police Headquarter for further investigation.
“When asked about the legal status of the four students, the police chief said the police still ask their clarification before taking a decision,” said Gobay, the Coordinator of the Coalition team.
However, Gobay continued, after their inspection to Perumnas III, the police did not found any evidence. Then, the police took the four students to Jayapura Headquarters, took their pictures and fingerprints before continuing the interrogation.
The examination continued until 00.59; Monday, 2 December 2019 before the four students were finally released.
Meanwhile, as quoted by Antara News Agency, Papua Police Chief General Paulus Waterpauw confirmed the interrogation against the four students. “I ordered Jayapura Municipal Police Chief to explore the case, to find out what do their plans,” said Waterpauw.
He stated in general the security situation in Papua is conducive during the commemoration West Papuan Independence Day which held every 1 December. Moreover, he said there were no public activities considered disturbing the security and public order.
“Generally safe, conducive and controlled. We are grateful to all stakeholders. Therefore, the commemoration of 1 December, which is an annual event, can run in a conducive, safe and controlled,” said Paulus Waterpauw on Sunday (1/12/2019). (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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