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.
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.”
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. (*)
Papuan activists dispute Indonesia’s poll numbers, claim boycott success
Papua, Jubi – It may be more than a month since Indonesians went to the polls, but the country is still being shaken by violence related to the election, including in the Papua region.
At least six people died in clashes in the capital Jakarta, during protests against the election outcome that saw President Joko Widodo declared the winner over Prabowo Subianto.
There are also reports in the Jakarta Post that post-election violence erupted in the troubled Papua region with investigations taking place into the deaths of four protesters allegedly killed by Indonesian soldiers.
It comes as President Widodo’s re-elected government has promised greater infrastructure development in Papua province.
But West Papuan activists pushing for independence from Indonesia have declared their election boycott was a success, saying that a majority of West Papuans did not vote.
Benny Wenda, the exiled leader of the United Liberation Movement, called for the peaceful boycott to show that West Papuans were not interested in electing Indonesia’s president.
After the preliminary count came in he claimed that 60 percent of West Papuans had not taken part in the election.
However, the official results from the electoral commission show that 88 per cent of West Papuans did vote.
ULMWP spokesman Ronny Kareni said that while West Papuan activists were glad that Joko Widodo remained in power, they did not think anything would change citing that Joko Widodo had not addressed any of the human rights cases in Papua that he said he would in his first term.
“The trust that has always been there, that gap is widening,” he said.
“The general feeling is that nothing will change, even though Jokowi is back serving for the second time.” (*)
Activists protest the conservation award to Governor Mandacan
Manokwari, Jubi – The award of Global Conservation Hero to the West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan by Conservation International in Los Angeles to appreciate the efforts of Provincial Government of West Papua in protecting and implementing sustainable development has drawn a protest from local conservationist and environmental activists.
The activists argue that the government has not been eligible to receive the award because of no integrated database record the forest, ocean and indigenous resources to use as a barometer of the success of the conservation or sustainable development program in West Papua Province.
Although the ICBE Forum 2018 resulted in an agreement named “Manokwari Declaration” that has 14 commitments, in reality, it does not reach people on the ground.
Yohanis Akwan, the Coordinator of Pantau Gambut Papua in Manokwari, states the Global Conservation Award to Governor Dominggus Mandacan was so premature and allegedly full of interests. Since the declaration of West Papua Province as the conservation-based province by the former Governor Abraham Oktavianus Atururi in 2015, no real effort yet been realised by the provincial government to protect the natural resources of Papua Barat.
Further, Akwan suggests that the award should present to people living in remote or coastal areas who are faithful protecting the forest and the sea with their local wisdom and traditional values. Also, he said West Papua Province even does not have a peatland map that can be used to review relevant permits, while the peatland is an indicator of the conservation-based province. He also asses that there are more unfinished plan to be done by Papua Barat concerning to conservation-based province. That is a reality.
“Unfortunately, the United States, Conservation International is too quick to present this award to the governor, while the forest and natural resources in this province continue to be in hand of giant investors. This award should not present to the government official, but villagers who traditionally protect their natural resources from time to time,” Akwan told Jubi in Manokwari.
Moreover, he points out a problem recently faced by Manowakri residents, namely a seasonal food disaster during rain as a result of a forest clearing in Wosi-Rendani area for human settlement and mismanagement of spatial plan for housings.
“Last Monday, dozens of houses in Petrus Kafiar Village of Manokwari Timur District were flooded. People forced to evacuate, while the government acts to pay attention from the international community,” said Akwan.
The head of the Provincial Public Relations and Protocol of West Papua Yohanes Nauw on behalf of the Governor Dominggus Mandacan says in the press conference that the award presented in a gala dinner organised by Conservation International in Los Angeles, the United States on Saturday (8/6/2019).
The head of provincial parliament has reportedly joined the governor because the parliament contributed to authorise the special regulation on Sustainable Development that represents the principles of environmentally friendly development.
“Through the special regulation, West Papua has been named as ‘conservation-based province’ in which 70% of its forest area and ecosystem will be protected and managed sustainably. This regulation also called the Manokwari Declaration,” explained Nauw.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Provincial Research and Development Agency of West Papua Government as a specialised agency who launched the agenda, Prof. Charlie D Heatubun, said that Governor Dominggus Mandacan has involved promoting the adoption of the regulation on Sustainable Development.
“This award is also to appreciate the leadership and commitment of the governor in promoting the enactment of the special regulation and reviewing other policies such as the Provincial Spatial Plan, the Provincial Medium-Term Development Plan, protected areas expansion and the preparation of the Provincial Master Plan and the Roadmap of Green and Blue Economic Development,” he said.
Furthermore, Heatubun said the visit of Papua Barat officials to Los Angeles, the United States, was to respond to the official invitation of the President of Conservation International. The event also attended by some CEOs of large companies who interested in investing in Papua Barat such as Mars, Unilever, and the Governor of California and Los Angeles Mayor. (*)
Reporter: Hans Kapisa
Editor: Pipit Maizier
CSOs decline logging company in Wondama
Jayapura, Jubi – Some Papua’s CSOs namely LP3BH Manokwari, YALI Papua, Yayasan Pusaka and Pemuda Suku Mairasi urge the Minister of Environment and Foresty to review the operation permit of a logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera (KTS) in Mairasi area.
The Mairasi tribal communities from Undurara, Wosimo and Inyora villages sent a statement letter stated on 12 May 2019 to oppose PT KTS to operate in Mairasi.
“People feel uneasy and disturbed due to the presence of the company and the military. It creates unsecured, disharmony and has no guarantee of providing economic benefit to the community,” Agust Veth from Pemuda Suku Mairasi told Jubi by phone on Sunday, 9 June 2019 in Jayapura.
According to Veth, people have not forgotten the incident of Bloody Wasior (2001) that allegedly triggered by logging activity from the timber company Darma Mukti Persana. Further, he said the human rights violation case in Wasior has not settled since then.
“Now, the military along with some public leaders represent the LMA (Customary Council) who facilitate the meeting on ‘Social Communication’ allegedly want to intimidate and force the local community to approve the logging company to operate in Mairasi. However, the local community continue to decline the company and refuse to attend the meeting.”
Mairasi people have objected the timber activity of KTS since 2012, while in 2013, a military culprit based in KTS logging area in Sorong allegedly tortured three residents from Sararti and Ambuni villages. The incident then reported to the local government, the People’s Assembly of Papua Barat and the Minister of Forestry. No action towards both perpetrator and the company has yet taken.
“Some reports revealed that PT KTS had some internal and financial issues. The company cannot pay the IUPHHK-HA (licence for utilization of timber in natural forest) and has a deficit (source: www.nasional.kontan.co.id, 2010; PT. Inti Multima Sertifikasi, 2015),” added Vest.
The logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera obtained the IUPHHK-HA from the Minister of Forestry (now the Minister of Environment and Forestry) Nomor SK.648/Menhut-II/2009 on 15 October 2009 to permit it to operate in a concession area of 115.800 hectares located in Teluk Wondama Regency. PT KSP is a subsidiary company of Artha Graha Group operating in Teluk Wondama Regency.
Concerning the permit, the civil society organisations ask the Minister of Environment and Forestry to evaluate the permit of PT KSP and give penalties for their negligence.
“We also ask the Military Commander of XVIII Kasuari to urge the Military District Command Sector Wasior and other local military authorities to stop using the military approach and intimidation towards the local community and backing up the interest of PT KTS.”
“They should prioritise respect, protection and fulfilment on human rights and environment, especially the basic rights of Mairasi Tribe. Most importantly, they must prevent the reoccurrence of the same conflict. Therefore, the law enforcement and legal protection of Mairasi Tribe are in need.”
However, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Military Command of Kasuari and PT KTS have not confirmed this information. On the other hand, Konstan Natama, the Acting Sub-district Chief of Naikere, Teluk Wondama Regency told Antara on 18 January 2018 that he was concerned about the massive logging activity by PT KTS clearing out the ironwood trees in Naikere.
Meanwhile, Franky Sanperante from Yayasan Pusaka said another subsidiary company of Artha Graha Network is PT Papua Satya Kencana with IUPHHK-HA license No SK.647/Menhut-II/2009. It has a concession area of 195.420 hectares located in Teluk Bintuni Regency.
“Combined, the total concession of the two companies is about 79% of the total area of Teluk Wondama Regency (3,960 Km2) or fivefold of the area of Jakarta,” said Frangky.
In the report published by Research and Development Centre of Department of Health of the Republic Indonesia “Merindukan Hidup Sehat Orama Etnik Mairasi Kabupaten Teluk Bintuni, 2014”, it mentioned that trees with a diameter of one meter such as ironwood and mahogany found in that area.
In Naikere, PT KTS has cleared out the trees since 1990 and stopped the operation at the time of Wasior incident (2001). Timber trucks carried one or two logs of wood with a diameter of one or two meters three or four times a day at that time. (*)
Reporter: Timoteus Marten
Editor: Pipit Maizier
- Papuan activists dispute Indonesia’s poll numbers, claim boycott success 17 June 2019
- Activists protest the conservation award to Governor Mandacan 15 June 2019
- CSOs decline logging company in Wondama 14 June 2019
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- UN chief calls for immediate climate action to ‘save Pacific – and world’ 31 May 2019
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