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International attention drawn to West Papuan struggle



Papuan student protesters burning a coffin in Jakarta on 18 January, 2019. Photo: Twitter/Veronica Koman

Jayapura, Jubi – Efforts to focus international attention on the West Papua independence cause surged in the past week.

First, a petition claiming to represent the voices of 1.8 million West Papuans calling for decolonisation of Indonesian-ruled Papua was handed to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, in Geneva.

It was presented by the chair of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), Benny Wenda, who was included in an official delegation of the Vanuatu government to a meeting with Ms Bachelet.

Then, the office of the commissioner confirmed that Indonesia had, in principle, agreed to grant her office it access to Papua.

It represented a tentative breakthrough after the previous High Commissioner last year upset Jakarta by complaining that an invitation for his office to visit Papua hadn’t been honoured.

Thirdly, representatives of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and its armed wing, the West Papua Liberation Army, held a rare press conference in neighbouring Papua New Guinea where they re-asserted their war on the Indonesian state.

They made an urgent appeal to the UN secretary-general to ensure relevant UN agencies applied scrutiny to the human rights situation in Papua, and pressed their insistence that Indonesia has occupied Papua illegally.

At yesterday’s event, they were joined by PNG civil society groups and two high-profile local MPs in calling for the international community to act on the “crisis” happening in the neighbouring territory.


Nduga regency in Papua’s central Highlands region is the current focal point of armed conflict between Indonesian security forces and the West Papua Liberation Army.

In the most serious escalation of hostilities for years, additional Indonesian military capabilities deployed to Nduga in December after the Liberation Army massacred 17 Indonesian road construction workers.

The Liberation Army was suspicious of Indonesian military involvement in President Joko Widodo’s massive Trans-Papua road project.

Given Papuan concerns about preserving their forests and ancestral lands, the project is viewed as a threat to many communities in the Highlands heartland.

Still, the president told media his resolve to forge ahead with his government’s infrastructure development drive in Papua was all the stronger since the attack on the workers.

In her recent annual foreign policy review statement, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, said her country would “not back down, not even an inch, when it comes to its sovereignty”.

But with shootouts and killings continuing in Nduga and the surrounding region, humanitarian concerns are growing for thousands of Papuan villagers who have fled to the bush to avoid the violence.

Claims that chemical weapons have been used by Indonesia’s military against civilians in Nduga have been vehemently denied by Indonesia.

The claims are just the latest reason cited by the ULMWP in its call for the international community, specifically the United Nations, to intervene in the Pacific’s longest running conflict.

The chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, peruses the petition calling for West Papuan decolonisation. Photo: Benny Wenda FB

Moresby rumblings

With concern about conflict in Papua running deep among Melanesian countries, Papua New Guinea’s Peter O’Neill-led government is under pressure to act on the issue.

The Governor of PNG’s National Capital District, Powes Parkop, announced at Thursday’s OPM press conference that he was working on introducing a motion in parliament for a change in government policy on Papua.

According to the Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, the 1986 treaty with Indonesia, which commits PNG to not interfere in domestic matters of its neighbour, is outdated and must be changed.

“And it has to be done by parliament, because it was enacted by parliament,” Mr Juffa said.

“And that’s the whole purpose of this gathering. But it is also their statement that no matter what, there’s no going back for them. Their only statement to the Indonesian government is that ‘we are willing to negotiate for freedom, nothing else’.”

Invoking the current urgency around the independence movement, the Oro Governor said West Papuans were determined and deserved the support of their neighbours.

“As Melanesians, as a Pacific nation, we have to rise up and stand up for our fellow Pacific Islanders.”

However PNG’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rimbink Pato, has repeatedly ruled out PNG pushing Indonesia on the matter of Papua’s political status.

He recently said PNG was working with Indonesia on various projects in the common border area that he claimed would help foster economic development and steadily improve living conditions for West Papuans.

But chair of PNG’s Union For Free West Papua, Ken Mondiai, said the issue of West Papua should be addressed by the UN.

“Indonesia has come in in a very forceful way since the 1960s to take over using its military force. The United States of America, the UN, the Netherlands, and many of the big countries like Australia are collectively responsible. So they should be responsible to try and fix the mistakes of the past.”

Diplomatic surge

At the Moresby press conference, an OPM spokesman, Jeffrey Bomanak, announced the Movement’s official support for the Liberation Army’s declaration of war against the Indonesian state.

He said its armed struggle to end Indonesian rule would not cease until Jakarta agreed to meet for peaceful negotiations, for which the OPM is establishing a negotiating team.

However, Indonesia’s government has previously ruled out negotiations with the OPM, which it brands as a criminal group, and is unlikely to change its stance now.

Indonesia’s Political, Legal and Security Minister Wiranto recently told media that the government would not enter any discussions with the Army.

But apart from Indonesia, those involved in this intractable conflict are looking to the UN to help resolve the problem.

According to Mr Wenda, while the OPM and Liberation Army are united in support of his Liberation Movement’s international efforts, he cannot control them.

“We cannot control the guerillas in the West Papuan bush, who face the threat of torture and death by the colonial Indonesian military every day,” he explained.

“The guerillas have their own command structure and their own leadership, and due to geographical, logistical and communicative difficulties we do not try to direct them. The ULMWP is focused relentlessly on its goal of achieving international support for an internationally-supervised vote on independence for West Papua.”

On that front, Mr Wenda’s delivery of the petition in Geneva last Friday was described by Indonesia as a ‘manipulation’.

Indonesia’s permanent representative at the UN, Hasan Kleib, alleged that Mr Wenda has infiltrated the Vanuatu delegation.

He added that Vanuatu was disrespectful and had broken the principles of the UN charter by allowing Mr Wenda to deliver the petition.

But Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, said his government had always maintained its support for the self-determination of West Papuans.

Vanuatu continues to advocate for the UN to revisit the controversial process by which Indonesia took control of the former Dutch New Guinea in the 1960s.

Indonesian officials, who say the question of sovereignty over Papua is final, delivered their own shot at Vanuatu this week in Geneva where the Melanesian country was undergoing its universal periodic review at the UN Human Rights Council.

However, this week it was mainly the Papuans who made the diplomatic running. (*)



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The officer was drunk, says Merauke shooting victim



Illustration of shooting. -Jubi / IST

Jayapura, Jubi – Fransiskus Gebze, a resident of Merauke who is currently in hospital after the shooting incident by a police officer, denied the police’s statement in an online media saying he attempted to attack the officer with a knife.

Papua Regional Police’s spokesman Commissionaire Police Ahmad Musthofa Kamal gave this statement at the Media Center of Papua Police Headquarters on Wednesday (13/02/2019).

“The officer was doing a patrol when caught this alleged perpetrator who known by residents often committed an act of mug or theft. When the officer addressed him, he did not accept it and attacked the officer with the knife that he often carried,” Kamal explained as quoted by the online media.

Meanwhile, Fransiskus denied this report and also said that he wasn’t stealing or mugging. “I am not a thief. I was walking to work at around 7 am, and the officer suddenly stopped me. He was extremely drunk. Without an alert, he pulled out the weapon and shot it down three times. It was only one meter distant. Two bullets went straight into my leg,” said Fransiskus on Friday (15/2/2019).

Furthermore, he suspected that the officer wanted to trap him by asking him about the fish he took from a ship. Fransiskus works as a fish loader at the Merauke Harbour. “What’s wrong if I take two or three fish for meals?” he said.

He also admitted that he never have a personal problem with the officer. However, he didn’t argue that he often faced with the officer when taking fish for meals.

Meanwhile, his wife, Susana Wanggaimu, also revealed that her husband shot by an officer when he was going to the fishing port. The incident occurred not far from the port at the 7 am local time.

“There was no problem between my husband and SM (the officer). Why should he shoot my husband’s leg twice? This is unfair. I want him to be responsible for his action,” she said. (*)


Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Arts & Culture

International award for film about journalism in West Papua



16th Pacific Documentary Film Festival in French Polynesia. Photo: FIFO website

Papua, Jubi – A short documentary which highlights the risks of being a journalist in Indonesian-ruled Papua region, or West Papua, has won an international film award.

Aprila, directed by Rohan Radheya, took out the best short film award at the 16th Pacific Fifo Documentary Film Festival in French Polynesia.

The Dutch journalist and film-maker’s documentary tells the story of a young local journalist who stopped doing her job after receiving death threats.

According to Fifo’s website, audience members in Tahiti expressed interest in the insight the film offered into a region and freedom struggle largely unknown to the world.

Mr Radheya said while international attention on Papua often focused on restrictions that Jakarta placed on access for foreign journalists, the plight of local journalists was ignored.

“What we endure as foreign journalists is nothing compared to what local indigenous journalists in Papua are facing,” he said. (*)


Source: RNZ

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Demonstration #SaveLE: Papuan People ask KPK to stop intimidating Papuan Governor



Papuan people in the demonstration to defend Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe who allegedly intimidated by the KPK. – Jubi/IST

Jayapura, Jubi – Thousands of members of People’s Alliance for Papua Defence and civil servants of Papua Provincial Government conducted a peaceful demonstration asking the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to not intimidate the Papuan Governor following the alleged persecution incident in Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta.

Carrying banners “Papuans have united to refuse all forms of intimidation against the Papuan Governor” and “Stop Criminalisation against the Papuan Governor”, thousands of protesters gave orations in front of the Governor Office Building located in Jalan Soa-Siu Dok II, Jayapura on Wednesday (13/2/2019).

The mass coordinator Benyamin Gurik claimed the Central Government has a big scene to pulling down the governor by using the issue of corruption. “This intimidation scenario has been played (by the central government) since the governor’s prior administration. They tried multiple strategies to defeat the governor. Of course, as citizens, we are very upset. Because we knew that Governor Lukas Enembe has a sincere heart and high-commitment to build Papua,” he said.

Gurik also thought that because of his determination of every policy he made, it made some people feel unease because they could no longer manipulate the budget because now everything should be executed according to the rules.

“Because of his strictness, Papua was able to receive the unqualified opinion upon the financial report from the Audit Board of Indonesia (BPK)” he said.

“And also because of him, we can get 10 per cent of Freeport share. Shortly, under his leadership, many people in the central government are not able to steal from Papua. Therefore, they will do anything to stop him,” he continued.

Earlier, Stefanus Roy Rening, the attorney of Papuan Provincial Government, asked the KPK to stop the criminalisation against the Papuan provincial officials and using the issue of persecution against their two officers to cover their failure in a sting operation or ‘Operasi Tangkap Tangan’ in Borobudur Hotel.

“This (persecution) happened because of something, and the KPK must reveal this transparently, fairly and openly to the public. They have to reveal what has been done by their officers in the Borobudur Hotel which triggered this incident,” said Roy.

“Now the KPK attempts to switch the issue of the failed sting operation with the persecution of their officers. I think it’s not fair because what has happened is because they are not professional to misuse their power and authority and use the law to scare the people,” continued Roy.

Until this news is writing, the protest is continuing peacefully and causes traffic congestions in some streets such as Jalan Sam Ratulangi and Soa-Siu Dok II. Meanwhile, hundreds of police officers stand by along the road and location where the demonstrators gathered. (*)


Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier

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