Papua, Jubi – Indonesia’s president called on police Thursday to act against officers who allegedly made racist taunts that provoked days of unrest in the volatile Papua region, but a Papuan man told BenarNews that locals felt nervous about wandering outside during a fourth day of anti-Jakarta protests.
Pro-separatist activists from Papua became enraged and took to the streets over accusations that Indonesian government security personnel and vigilantes had used racial slurs such as “monkeys” and “dogs” against Papuan students, as well as roughed them up while they were demonstrating in East Java province last week.
“I have ordered the national police chief to take firm legal action against racial and ethnic discrimination,” President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said, in an apparent reference to the alleged slurs directed by law enforcement personnel against Papuan students.
“Apologies have been made, and this is a testament to our big hearts as a nation,” he told a news conference at Bogor Palace. Jokowi added that he had invited Papuan community leaders to the presidential palace on the outskirts of Jakarta to meet with him next week “to discuss ways to improve prosperity” in deeply impoverished Papua and West Papua provinces.
Minister: ‘Papuans are our golden children’
The protests broke out on Monday, when thousands of people demonstrated in major towns in Papua and West Papua provinces to vent their anger against racism and call for a referendum on independence for the mainly Melanesian region. Some of the protestors set government buildings on fire, and violence protests spilled over into Tuesday and Wednesday, when a market in Fakfak was destroyed by a blaze.
Smaller protests took place in Papua and in Jakarta on Thursday, while Indonesian officials said that internet services in the far-eastern region remained blocked as a measure for restoring order. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the central government deployed 1,500 security personnel – mostly police officers – to the region to help maintain law and order, according to officials.
On Thursday, Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, along with the chief of national police and the head of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) visited the Papua region in a collective effort to calm tensions.
“We are here … to shake hands with our brothers and sisters,” Wiranto said on television.
“There are always bad apples, and surely there will be legal action,” the state-run Antara news agency quoted him as saying.
“Don’t make sweeping generalizations that all other ethnic groups insult ethnic Papuans,” he added, saying that “Papuans are our golden children.”
However, George Celcius Auparay, an aide to the governor of West Papua, said Papuans were hurt by the perceived race-based insults.
“We have agreed to be one nation, but why are we being treated like this?” he said, adding there should be a presidential decree banning insults targeting the Papuan people.
Meanwhile in Jakarta on Thursday, dozens of Papuan activists rallied outside the army headquarters in the Indonesian capital.
Some carried the banned Morning Star flags, a symbol of the Papuan separatist movement, as they called for a referendum on self-determination.
The protesters chanted: “Free Papua! Free Papua!” as riot police looked on.
The crowd forced their way through a police barricade, but were stopped by military personnel. There were no reports of injuries.
In Papua province, police said they had arrested 34 people for alleged involvement in Wednesday’s rioting in Timika, a town near the giant Grasberg mine operated by the American firm Freeport McMoRan, Antara reported.
Elsewhere, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology said the blackout on internet service would stay in place “until the situation in Tanah Papua returns to normal.” Tanah Papua is the local term for Papua and West Papua, which make up the Indonesian half of New Guinea island.
Members of the public and human rights groups criticized the move.
“This blanket internet blackout is an appalling attack on people’s right to freedom of expression in Papua and West Papua,” Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said in a statement.
“In addition, the decision would also prevent people from documenting and sharing evidence of abuses committed by security forces,” he said.
Rudiantara, who heads the ministry, defended its decision to impose a blackout in Papua.
“This is for the national interest and has been discussed with security authorities,” Rudiantara told reporters.
“We’re not being repressive, unlike in some other countries. People can still make voice calls,” he said. (*)
Docking their yachts at Jayapura Seaport, foreigners scrutinised by local immigration office
Jayapura, Jubi – Jayapura Immigration, Seaport Health Quarantine Office, Maritime and Port Authority secured and interrogated four foreign citizens on Wednesday (18/3/2020) following their act sailing to Jayapura sea and docking private yachts at Jayapura Seaport.
The Head of Jayapura Immigration Gatut Setiawan states the four foreigners arrived in Jayapura by two different yachts. The Singaporean Wong Tet Chong took Ximula-3 Langkawi, while Bruno Coolmet of France came to Jayapura with his wife and future son-in-law by Krypton.
“The four sailed from Sorong, West Papua Province and got clearance from Sorong Immigration. But, as soon they arrived in Jayapura, they were going to the downtown without reporting their arriving to the quarantine office and seaport authority,” said Gatut in Jayapura on Wednesday (18/3/2020).
In his statement, Gatut said Wong Tet Chong initially wanted to sail his yacht to Papua New Guinea but change the destination to Jayapura due to bad weather and engine problem. Besides, the authority of Papua New Guinea has currently closed access to the country.
“The immigration, quarantine office and seaport authority has interrogated (him) and conducted the thermal check as a procedure of coronavirus anticipation. His body temperature was normal, so we gave him two days to leave the Jayapura water. If he is still around [more than two days], the seaport authority will forcibly pull out his yacht out of Indonesia,” said Gatut.
Meanwhile, Gatut said the immigration did not found any immigration violations conducted by Bruno Coolmet, his wife and their future son-in-law because they have a legal permit to stay until 1 April 2020.
“Although they did not break the immigration rule, they should deal with both quarantine office and seaport authority because [docked and left their yacht at the seaport] without reporting. In the future, we will be more restricted to protect the security of the sea from invasion by foreigners or others by involving the quarantine office, seaport authority and other relevant offices,” said Gatut.
After completing their administrative issue with the quarantine office, the three French national should leave the Jayapura Sea. “The immigration is keeping their documents as a guarantee,” he said.
Earlier, Deputy Governor of Papua Province Klemen Tinal asked the Immigration, Seaport Quarantine Office and other relevant offices to restrict the surveillance over passengers at airports, seaports and other entries to anticipate the spreading of coronavirus to Papua.
“Restriction and inspection should be done more strictly to both foreign and domestic passengers coming to Papua,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Alexander Loen
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Goliat Tabuni asks independent team to investigate the church burning in Tembagapura
Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB) challenge the Government of Indonesia to provide access for an independent investigation team investigating perpetrators behind the burning of a church in Tembagapura Sub-district, Mimika Regency, Papua in a press released by TPNPB. The statement of the Supreme Commander of TPNTP General Goliat Tabuni received by Jubi on Wednesday (18/3/2020).
On Thursday (12/3/2020), the Indonesian Gospel Tent (GKII) Church of Sinai Congregation in Opitawak Village of Tembagapura Sub-district reportedly burned out. The Indonesian security forces pointed finger to TPNPB as perpetrators. However, General Goliat Tabuni denied all allegations in his press release.
In turn, he believes this incident was part of the game playing by the Indonesian security forces to discredit the image of TPNPB in which they have always done for a long time. “This is not new, but [it has happened] since 1960 to the present. The Indonesian Military and Police have done it for a long time,” said Tabuni in his press release.
Furthermore, Tabuni said TPNTP was not surprised by many reports accused them as the perpetrator behind the church burning. Therefore, he challenges the Indonesian Government to provide access to an independent investigation team to investigate.
Meanwhile, TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambon confirms the statement released on behalf of Goliat Tabuni as valid. Further, he says the independent investigation team preferred by TPNPB is a joint investigation team of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council and the National Human Rights Commission of Papua Office.
“If they want to find who is behind the church burning, the Indonesian Government must allow the independent team to investigate. [The independent team is] the Human Rights Council [United Nations] and the National Human Rights Commission of Papua Office,” Sambom told Jubi on Wednesday (18/3/2020).
Furthermore, he said the Indonesian Government should be able to prove their accusation through a fair and impartial legal process, not only pointing fingers to TPNPB. “The Indonesian Military and Police should not just accuse TPNPB, and the Indonesian media should not unilaterally publish the one-side story,” said Sambom.
Meanwhile, Antara News Agency launched the statement of Tembagapura Police Chief Adjunct Commissionaire Hermanto saying the insurgent group led by Lekagak Telenggen and Joni Botak burned down the GKII Sinai Congregation Church in Opitawak Village.
“The church was initially crowded by Opitawak villagers for worshipping and other church activities. However, in several recent weeks, the armed group came to spread terror in this village. People finally have to give in to this situation,” said Hermanto to Antara. (*)
Reporter: Benny Mawel
Editor: Pipit Maizier
80 candles lit to commemorate one-year of Sentani flash flood
Sentani, Jubi – Flash food that hit Sentani on 16 March 2019 is still kept strictly in the memory of those who experienced it. Even today, after one year of the disaster, many people are still living in refugee camps. To commemorate one year of the incident, young people and the Baptist Sunday School of Imanuel Toladan Church organise worship and several activities to pray for their family members who passed away in this natural disaster.
“We have not prepared this event for a long time, but we think this is what we can do. We want to remember the incident where all Sunday School’s students were gathering in the ‘island’ for worshipping then suddenly the flash flood came,” says Jenny Marlin Wenda, the GBIT Sunday School Principal, to Jubi on Monday evening (16/3/2020).
Furthermore, she adds that there is nothing more valuable than being grateful to God.
“So, here we are today. Mr Jeff Ron comes to give us a preach and motivate those who attend the worship today. Before praying, we lit 80 candles that provided by our school, then watch movies while gathering for coffee in the churchyard,” she says.
Besides youth and Baptist congregations, this event also involves nearby neighbours.
“We also thank those who participated to join the event and pray with us. We meet with families of victims who join and bring some food for all of us to enjoy. They feel this worship is important to them, so they come to join,” she says.
Moreover, she says no one ever thinks that they would survive in flah flood.
“When remembering that experience, I am sad because it caused 114 death, 205 missing and 961 injured, while approximately 11,725 are currently living in refugee camps. “
Meanwhile, Jeff Ron Sohilait in his preach says in difficult time humans might not think that they will survive during a flash flood, but nothing is impossible for God. God opened the way for us when we were at the island at the time.
“At that night, God opened us the way. He brought us out of place at that time. It means He has a certain purpose for the children of Sunday School in this world,” he says.
“On Saturday evening one year ago, these children went to the worship, and because of their prayer, God came to save them. This is a great testimony where God came to them in the sudden episode and guided them to the safe place,” says Jeff Ron. (*)
Reporter: Yance Wenda
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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