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Indonesia to make major Pacific pitch at NZ expo

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Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. Photo: AFP

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. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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ULMWP activists in Papua express gratitude to Oxford City Council

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Leaders of ULMWP provide their supports to Benny Wenda. – Jubi/Dok. ULMWP

Jayapura, Jubi – Simon B Daby, a member of the Central Board Committee of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), said that West Papuans appreciate the Oxford City Council for granting the Freedom of Oxford” award to the Chairman of ULMWP Benny Wenda. Further, he said this award proves that the international community paid attention towards the efforts of the ULMWP and Wenda in fighting for Papuan self-determination.

The Freedom of Oxford is the highest honour given by the City of Oxford to people who have a significant impact on society. Benny Wenda is an internationally recognized diplomat and leader for the West Papua free movement. Since being granted political asylum in England in 2002, Wenda has fought tirelessly for the self-determination of West Papuans from his campaign office in Oxford.

Moreover, Simon B Dabby stated that this award is highly essential for all the people of West Papua. “We, the people of West Papua, congratulate Benny Wenda who received this award for his efforts to voice the calls of West Papuans for their right of self-determination to the international community,” said Daby on Wednesday (17/4/2019).

Daby continued to say that Mr Wenda has consistently declared injustice and human rights violations in West Papua since 1961 and campaigned for the right of self-determination for West Papuan. “Through this momentum, the people in West Papua convey to all state members of the United Nation to support their right of self-determination,” said Daby.

He also said the demand of West Papuan for self-determination aligned with the Indonesian Constitution 1945 in which stated in the first paragraph of the Preamble, “whereas independence is the inalienable right of all nations.” It is also following the UN General Assembly Resolution No. 1541 (XV) of 1960. The resolution stated that if a region has a geographical location and cultural ethics that are separate and different from its ruling and administrative state, this region is entitled to claim its right of self-determination.

Meanwhile, a member of the Legislative Committee of ULMWP for Anim Ha region, Pangkrasia Yeem, expressed his gratitude to the Oxford City Council for this award. He said the Freedom of Oxford award for Benny Wenda is a special gift for the Papuan people.

Furthermore, he asks all West Papuans to be united in advocating the ULMWP’s efforts for West Papuan self-determination. “With our support to ULMWP, we (will) establish our state as an independent and sovereign nation,” said Yeem on Sunday (14/7/2019). (*)

Reporter: Hengky Yeimo
Editor: Pipit Maizier

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23 extra-judicial killings in West Papua last year – rights group

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Members of the Indonesian military Photo: AFP

Papua, Jubi – A human rights group advocating for West Papuans in Indonesia says there were more than 20 extra-judicial killings by the military there last year.

Indonesian soldiers participate in a major military jungle warfare exercise in Poso, in central Sulawesi island, on March 31, 2015.

But the military has dismissed the findings, which come during an escalating conflict in Papua’s Highlands as rebels wage war on the state.

The International Coalition for Papua has documented 23 killings it claimed happened at the hands of Indonesia’s military in 2018.

The recently-released list ranges from bullet wounds to being burned alive, mostly in the troubled Central Highlands.

The rights group is demanding Indonesia launch independent investigations into all the cases, warning more deaths have been reported this year.

But a military spokesperson, Muhammad Aidi, said the report is a hoax and that some victims died from tribal violence.

He said others were rebels who died in gunfights after launching attacks on soldiers. (*)

 

Source: rnz.co.nz

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West Papuan independence group urges primacy of TPNPB

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Executive members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) at their second congress, Jayapura, October 2018. Photo: Supplied

Papua, Jubi – There’s strong opposition in West Papua to a reconfiguration of military forces in the struggle for independence from Indonesia.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua, led by mainly exiled Papuan. claims it’s taking political leadership of a new unified military force, the West Papua Army.

The ULMWP last week said the Army was a united front between the West Papua Liberation Army, or TPNPB, and two smaller fighting forces.

Representatives of the TPNPB, and the broader Free Papua Movement, have since claimed they do not support thie unification anounced in the ‘Vanimo Border Declaration’.

This has been echoed by the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, a pro-independence organisation focussed on peaceful campaigning.

Its international spokesman Victor Yeimo spoke to Johnny Blades about their concerns.

TRANSCRIPT

Victor Yeimo: We still struggle for independence, for our liberation. We need a liberation army. As you know, historically, this organisation (TPNPB) exist since 1961 and until today they exist, fighting on the ground. And the two other ones (the West Papuan National Army and the West Papua Revolutionary Army) separated from TPNPB. But in reality as West Papuans know, as well as colonial (power) knows, these two organisations never have an action on the ground. It’s not a competition between one organisation and another organisation, but in the unity, to liberate the West Papuan demand for self-determination, to go for our goal of freedom, we need one military organisation only. We don’t need many organisations. It wil make confusion in west Papua people. and it will make it difficult for us to make a solution; And it’s very dangerous for the guerillas and all the soldiers of the West Papua army on the ground because if there are three commands, three shystems going on in the ground, it will be difficult, because it will create problems within our military, and it will confuse. How can we attack the enemy through three systems of military organisations? In the revolution history, as you know, we need only one organisation of military.

Johnny Blades: But isn’t that what the ULMWP is trying to achieve, that they are all uniting?

Victor Yeimo: There are concerns in the constitution of the OPM (Free Papua Movement). As you know on the 1st of July 1971 when OPM declared proclamation of independence of the republic of West Papua, they have their own constitution. And this military, TPNPB, is under the constitution of the proclamation. Yes, it is important for us to unite, but in a military… they (West Papuan National Army and the West Papua Revolutionary Army) already split from the main organisation, the TPNPB. So I think now, in reality, the people of West Papua, we want to be free. So please if you want to unite, don’t degradate the existing organisation, the TPNPB, because today as you know on the ground TPNPB is still fighting with arms on the ground.

Johnny Blades: You’re saying that everything should be done under the auspices of the TPNPB, that it shouldn’t be a new united command; you’re saying it should be done under the rules and the constitution of the TPNPB because that’s the main military?

Victor Yeimo: Yes, the military has its own discipline of military. The constitution is something that we can discuss and unite. But the military is a tool for revolution. We need only one military and one discipline. So if they (the West Papuan National Army and the West Papua Revolutionary Army) if they have their own discipline of military, please bring it to the TPNPB. we have to strengthen the exist one. So then, what we want… we have one goal. So please use the existing one as our strength to attack the enemy. That’s the solution for KNPB. We are supporting the ULMWP but we encourage them to only recognise the TPNPB as the one and only military defence.

Johnny Blades: There’s been some criticism from people in the OPM, or TPNPB, about the way this (declaration) has been done. What do you think about the reaction?

Victor Yeimo: Yes, in the ground the reaction is negative. The other headquarters of each commander, like in Lanny Jaya, also in Puncak Jaya, also in Paniai, also in Yahukimo, also in Nduga, they are not involved in this declaration. So I believe that they are opposed to that declaration.

Johnny Blades: The KNPB has generally been a peaceful organisation. What do you believe in, does the military have a role in the struggle?

Victor Yeimo: Yes we support them in resistance as a defence force, as they have the same aim: to go for self-determination. But we have a different method. We organise people in West Papua through the peaceful means (including civil resistance and demonstrations). Until today KNPB believe in peaceful means. We don’t even hope the military action will give more influence inside our struggle because today people around the world, the solidarity just becomes bigger and bigger because our peaceful action in the ground. But it will not stop them fighting, because this is the reality in every struggle, a liberation army. We want our own military. It’s something that always happens in every struggle. So we want them to fight in accordance to their method.

Johnny Blades: The political leadership of the struggle, is it accurate to say that (ULMWP chairman) Benny Wenda is the head of that movement?

Victor Yeimo: I say that ULMWP should become co-ordinating body, not become a state or acting like a state. because we have too many factions and too many history. So we want today the organisations can unite all of the factions, all of the movements in West Papua through the co-ordination mechanism… like three years ago (at ULMWP’s inception). This is something important. We will have our own nation state after independence. So what we want today is to unite, co-ordinating the agenda and organisation, everything we can discuss. So, it’s not like now, everything comes from outside, from Benny Wenda, from outside. It’s not good for the unity. It will kill the unity because in our history there are too many people claiming they are the president, who claimed they have their own constitution and everything. We don’t want that. What we want today is freedom from Indonesian occupation. (*)

 

Source: rnz.co.nz

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