By Theo van den Broek
Jayapura, Jubi – Papuans have supported the election of Jokowi, who received about 70% of the vote in Papua. They expected that President Jokowi would be a better partner to listen to their aspirations and problems. In his campaign for the presidency, Jokowi promised to be there for the people, to open a dialogue with them and to give special attention to solving of the problems in Papua.
During his first presidential visit to Papua on 27 December 2014, this campaign message still sounded when he urged the relevant authorities to prioritise and finalise the investigation of one of the worst human rigths violations, which took place in Enarotali/Paniai on the 7-8th of December 2014, in which four kids were killed by the security forces. At the same time he repeated that indeed Papuans don’t just need economic development, but above all they need to be listened to.
Coming in for a second presidential visit (7-10 May 2015) expectations were still high, although over the first months of his presidency voices of initial disappointment started to be heard, not just in Papua but also in other parts of Indonesia. The second visit has proved to be a disturbing mixture of moments of joy and moments of very substantial disappointment.
First of all the visit was accompanied with by incredibly disproportional security arrangments. The security forces proudly announced that they would mobilize 6.000 personel (3.400 army and 2.600 police); that they would be using 5 helicopters; that two warships woul]d be on standby in the Jayapura harbour; and that 12 teams of snipers had been prepared to be positioned at strategic locations. At the same time fighter-planes flew over Jayapura. For anyone reading this kind of preparation there can only be one conclusion: Papuans are a real threat, they are very dangerous, and the President might be in danger! This implication is at odds with the reality on the ground where Papuans only showed minor interest in the visit and a number of provincial governmental dignitaires weren’t even on the spot to receive the President. For sure this show of force by the security forces only strengthened the stigmatisation of the Papuans as “enemies of the nation”.
Secondly the lack of enthusiasm and interest by the Papuan community for the visit might reflect the already decreasing trust in the steps taken by the President to solve the problems in Papua. The lack of any substantial follow-up to his message on 27 december 2014 when he urged a fast resolution of the Paniai tragedy may be one of the reasons. The lack of interest might also have been a result of the agenda of the visit, which was mainly ceremonial rather then open and a chance to dialogue and to listen to each other in a serious way.
Within this general context the visit started off on a very ceremonial and formal note, and only sparked some renewed interest when it became public that 5 political prisoners were granted clemency and thereby released from prison. Jokowi also made clear that this was just the beginning as “all the political prisoners will be released over a short period of time to come”. This surprising step was followed by the announcement that the ban on free access to Papua for journalists and other foreign visitors, including researchers, would be lifted. This means: free access for anybody interested. This additional step really revived the hope a lot of Papuans had when they elected Jokowi as President.
Although these two steps are very important and promising indeed, during the days following it came to light that some of the released prisoners had been pressured to sign a letter of request for grace, something they personally were reluctant to do, because it would mean that they admitted that had been involved in a criminal act. They know they were expressing an opinion that might be not in line with the national ideology, but they did so peacefully and within their rights. One of the key persons the President aimed to release was Filep Karma, but he refused to sign the needed letter for the reason mentioned above.
A headline in the local paper also caught the eye in which the National Commander of the army said that “the exploitation of a Papua-Jakarta dialogue should stop”. According to the commander the dialogue was already taking place via the visits the President was making; so, no need anymore to ask for a dialogue. Sadly, the President himself made similar statements saying that “there is no problem in Papua… dialogue for what?”; “no place for a political dialogue; our policy is a dialogue for development”. Likewise his appeal to “forget about the past and just look ahead” received angry reactions by prominent Papuans, and for good reasons.
Statements like the ones above were very discouraging as the general hope was that with Jokowi there would be room for a substantial dialogue. Anyway, the message became clear: the central government is not in for a dialogue, such as has been requested for by Papuans over the recent years; the Papuans are asking for a dialogue to discuss the real roots of the problems in Papua and with a readiness to find a solution together in a dignified way and at the same time move away from the brutal violence that seems to be the trademark nowadays.
While visiting Merauke, the President confirmed officially his earlier made announcement that “starting today all foreign journalists and interested people have free access to Papua; no restrictions in place anymore”. It was certainly a message that was very much welcomed by Papuans as well as the international community. However listening to de facto powerful people around the President some reservation became clear. No surprise that a couple of days later the Coordinating Minister for political, security and legal affairs announced that any journalist wishing to visit and report on Papua has still to obtain the needed permission first. In other words ‘business as usual’, although the name ‘the clearing house’ was changed into ‘a monitoring’ unit.
The visit to Merauke was mainly geared to affirm that the central government would go full speed ahead and accelerate the implementation of a huge mega-project, i.e. the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), that relates to industrial investment and developing of (in the original version) 4.6 million ha of land (including virgin forestry). The program has not taken off over the last five years as indigenous communities didn’t agree with the loss of their land and also because of the irrepairable damage that would be done to the environment. The President just disregarded all the problems and rightful objections, and declared the first step of developing 1,2 million of rice within a period of three years. Besides the fact that the feasibility of this very program has been questioned by well informed experts, Jokowi insists that the program must be implemented. To make sure it will succeed he also invited the army to take an active part in the implementation of the project. It is amazing that in a region where local communities have been suffering for so long and have expressed so often their concrete suffering as a result of investors’ behavior, including the denial of their basic rights, the loss of their land including their food security, the destruction of the environment, the intimidation by security forces, and the local administrators who prioritised their own personal interest above that of the community they are supposed to serve, that the President didn’t show that he has ever listened well to these very sad human stories or acknowledged the increasing marginalisation of the indigenous community in Papua.
Once again the message is clear: the central government goes ahead with ‘its grand design’ and turns a deaf ear and blind eye to anything else. What is however clear as well is the evident ambiguity of the concrete steps/measures initiated by the President. He comes across as firm and honest in his steps/initiatives, but it takes only a short time for his surrounding political millieu to react and redress or just disregard any policy set by the President. A recent example of this practice is the reaction by the Minister for Transmigration after the President announced in early June that he will stop the transmigration program to Papua. The relevant minister reported that the transmigration program to Papua would go ahead and was very much needed for the “1,2 million ha rice project”, and what is more that “Merauke is a heaven for transmigrants” and that transmigration to the Merauke region has been very successfull in the past.
An interesting aspect of this whole visit was also that the provincial government in Papua hardly participated in it and its ‘policy steps’. It may be very significant and suggest a number of interpretations. But one thing is clear, the provincial government doesn’t make its own voice and analysis heard and that this is as damaging as the overwhelming dominance of the central government in Papua policies.
In conclusion we can only say that the presidential visit has left Papua/Papuans struggling with
• very mixed feelings and increasing doubt in any concrete political desire of the central government and its related institutions to ‘reach out to the indigenous community in order to find the right solutions together’;
• wondering who is effectively in charge in the country, and in Papua in particular;
• the powerlessness of the own provincial government that is supposed to be on the forefront to fight for solutions that show respect for the dignity of the indigenous Papuans as the cornerstone of any policy and action;
• the feeling that this kind of presidential visit doesn’t meet the standards hoped for by the Papuan indigenous community;
Reflecting on the reality pictured above it is amazing that various crucial problems that really and urgently deserve attention haven’t been discussed, at least not in a setting that includes the participation of the Papuan community. The crucial problems we are are refering to and that we would like to suggest as a substantial Agenda for Dialogue are:
• addressing the dramaticly changing demographic balance in order to guarantee that (e.g.) at least 30% (minimum!) of the population in Papua should be and remain indigenous;
• a change in approach including decreasing the repressive/violent way solving problems (including the factual violation of human rights), and decreasing the evident reluctance by the central government to discuss the real roots of the problems;
• the rethinking of the economic development model so that is becomes more people oriented and safeguards the very right to life for the indigenous community
• the necessary increase in the regional government’s competence/capacity in order to be able to identify the appropriate policies and balance the evident power dominance of the security forces nowadays.
For anyone who claims to have “the Papuans at heart” these crucial problems should be at the forefront of an honest dialogue, which respects each other. This is an urgent need for and shared responsibility to become real stewards of human dignity. (*)
The origin of Indonesian racism towards Papuans and its implication to a Free West Papua Movement
By Yamin Kogoya
ESCALATING violence and attacks on Papuan students saw thousands of young people march on the streets and set fire to the Parliament building in West Papua on 19th August 2019. This was in response to Papuan students being attacked in their dormitory in Surabaya last week after they had alleged bent a flagpole during the Indonesian Independence Day celebrations (on 17 August).
Surabaya police chief, senior commissioner Sandi Nugroho, said the attack on the Papuan student dormitory was carried out by Indonesian nationalist community groups who were angered by the treatment of their national flag.
In an effort to restore calm, the Papua Governor, Lukas Enembe called on all Indonesian citizens to respect their national value of “unity in diversity” (Bhineka Tunggal Ika), and for the security forces to act professionally and in accordance with Indonesian laws and to not let activist groups take the law in their own hands. He reiterated that Papuans studying in Indonesian cities and towns must be treated with dignity and respect and is how Papuans treat Indonesians studying in West Papua.
The timing of last weeks’ attacks, retaliations and protests could not be more significant for both the Papuans and Indonesians. On 16th August 2019, the leaders of Pacific Island nations passed several resolutions regarding the Papuan genocide at the Pacific Island Forums, while 17th August 2019 was the 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day.
PAPUANS HAVE ENDURED YEARS OF RACISM AND VIOLENCE
Papuans are no stranger to Indonesia’s cruel and violent racism and which they have endured since the 1960s. Papuans have died, been marginalized, and had their rights denied because of racism.
Filep Karma, a West Papuan political activist experienced firsthand racism by Indonesians during his university years, and in 2014 said: “As If We Are Half Animal: Indonesia’s Racism in Papua Land”.
Fifty-six years later, and these cruel racial slurs are alive and thriving as Papuans continue to be called monkeys, insinuating that they are primitive. This insult cuts deep in the hearts of Papuans.
Just last week, Indonesian Human Rights Lawyer, Veronica Koman posted videos on her Twitter feed of Indonesian demonstrators holding up picture monkeys and chanted “kick out, kick out the transmigrants, kick out transmigrants now”.
While the world’s media is focusing on the violence involved in the demonstrations, they are ignoring what is at the heart of the demonstrations, that being racism. It is not acceptable to call Papuans monkeys, effectively denying them their fundamental intrinsic value of being human. And while President Joko Widodo called on his brothers and sisters in Papua and West Papua to forgive and forget, the racial harassment and discriminations against Papuan students has been ongoing.
Governor Enembe said “Papuans students throughout Indonesia always get called Monkey and are not safe”. During an interview on Indonesian TV ONE, he condemned the way Papuan students are treated in other parts of Indonesia. “It has been 74 years since Indonesia gained its independence from the Dutch and this country still treats my people inhumanly. If the situation doesn’t improve, I will bring my Papuan students back home”.
Racism is a weapon deploy by the colonial power to break down the Papuan human spirit. This is the same weapon Indonesia is using that was used on them by the Europeans, and who killed millions of the first nation people around the world over 500 years.
IS IT A CASE OF MONKEY-SEE-MONKEY-DO FOR INDONESIA?
As the Jakarta Post reported “racism” is at the heart of the Surabaya -West Papua conflict, and highlighted Indonesia’s own experience of racism under the Dutch colonial rule.
It appears that after 74 years of independence from the Dutch, and despite Indonesia’s national ideology of “Pancasila” and “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” (Five constitutional Pillars and Unity in Diversity”, it is still suffering from the decades of racial abuse under Dutch rule.
Indonesian treatment of Papuans is like a revenge towards unexamined grievances they suffered. Papuans’ genocide at the hands of Indonesia in West Papua and unprecedented destruction of their ancestral homeland originated in the minds of racist Europeans. But they are projecting their anger onto the wrong people. They should direct their anger onto the Dutch and Western Governments.
The Dutch used guns and the Bible to tame the Indigenous Indonesian over 300 years. They broke their human spirit and imagination through racial discrimination. They were dehumanized and used as a lethal weapon against all other non-Dutch Europeans.
The Dutch implemented a class system whereby the Indonesians were third class citizens, well beneath the first-class Europeans, and the second-class Chinese and Arabs.
And so, the cycle continues, with Indonesia trying to dehumanize and break the Papuan spirit so they can rebuild them to identity with Indonesian colonial ideas.
Indonesia wants to love Papuans and accept them as part of Indonesia. However, they can’t because, just like their former European colonialists, Indonesia has wrong and distorted information about Papuans.
As articulated by sociologist Thomas Scheff in the Jakarta Post on Friday, May 31, 2013:
“there is no love between Papuans and Indonesians. It is infatuation. Genuine love requires detailed knowledge of the other”.
Another tragic learned behaviour from the Dutch is Indonesia taking the role of “definer”. Essentially, Indonesia sees itself as the tape measure that other people and cultures have to measure up to or ‘be defined’.
Papuans are subjected to racism everywhere they go, from university dormitories, the marketplace and on the streets. The Papuan values, feelings, emotions and psychology are under constant attack by the colonial racist system. This is the institutionalized racism to poison the soul of Papuans.
PAPUA HAS BEEN THE RACISM FOOTBALL THAT’S BEEN KICKED AROUND FOR YEARS
West Papua has been treated as a commodity for years, being passed around and sacrificed as world leaders saw fit. The USA, Australia, Dutch and Indonesia decided its fate during the negotiations in the 1960s. It was sacrificed for world peace on UN’s alter in 1963 and handed over to Indonesia in an attempt to halt the spread of communism in Indonesia (by way of providing an army). Remarkably, West Papuans was never considered nor were they invited to participate in this meeting
US president Kennedy referred to West Papuans as “The 700,000 living in the stone age…a few thousand square miles of cannibals land.” Papuans was used to secure the interest of Western governments and the Soviet Bloc. They had no value and rights. The result of these negotiations cost millions of Papuan lives.
Western policy makers were more concerned with teaching Papuans how to eat with knife and fork rather than their rights for political independence.
Unfortunately for Papuans, their relationship with Europeans has always been tainted by racism. The Western governments, Chinese, Indonesian and industrialised countries always assume that natural state of being Papuan is not desirable which is why they always attempt to dehumanise the Papuans.
According to Dr. Tarcisius kabutaulaka, associate professor at the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies at the Univeristy of Hawaii, European’s have always placed Melanesian people at the bottom of human hierarchy because of their darker skin colours and cultural traits that led to them being viewed as primitive. They bare the internal stigma of “Oceanic Negroes”. The crimes Melanesian committed to be boxed at the bottom of Europeans category was simply the fact. 
IS THIS THE PATH TO INDEPENDENCE
The intriguing aspect about this recent demonstration is how seriously Papuan students and young people are taking the issue of ‘racism’. They are using the ongoing racism to voice their deep aspiration for independence from Indonesia.
Recently, Indonesia has been focusing on building diplomatic relationships with the Pacific island countries but, how can a genuine relationship be built and sustained when one party approaches the other with a paternalistic colonial mental outlook? This was evident during the 2019 Pacific Exposition in Auckland whereby the Indonesian government did not disclose the real issues faced by Papuans. What Indonesia did display was misconstrued image of the Papuan.
If Indonesia continues to see Papuans through the lens of racism (monkey), why would they treat any other black race in the Oceania with love and respect. To build a sense of brotherhood among all men across all our cultural and religious prejudices, we need a new interconnectedness worldview, not racially fragmented one.
if President Jokowi was sincere about calling Papuans “brothers and sisters” then it is time for Indonesian to treat Papuans with dignity and respect, including the overwhelming desire by Papuans for “Independence”. Otherwise these words are meaningless.
Despite the Indonesian effort to truncate the growing support for an independent West Papua, the Pacific island leaders did pass a few resolutions in during last week PIF’s meeting in Tuvalu.
What do these resolutions really mean to Papuans? Whether it was a mere Orwellian exercise concocting the final communique -a pure fiasco or it is one of the steps that will enable the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to enter UN General Assembly, one thing is clear that support for the West Papuans plight is growing.
This support from Pacific island communities will likely grow in the future if Indonesia continues to mistreat their fellow Papuans.
Calling Papuans a monkey can and will ignite the fire of resistance (as seen by thousands of Papuans protesting and setting fire to parliament house). The issue of racism is serious and failure to recognise this will end up costing Indonesia the very thing they are trying to hold on to.
As Evi Mariani warned Jakarta in her paper published yesterday by the Jakarta Post:
“Racism in the love story in Bumi Manusia is the prequel to Indonesia’s budding nationalism against the occupation of the Dutch before our independence in 1945. Surely, we would not want the racism befalling Papuans to pave the way for their struggle for independence from “Indonesian occupation” on their land”.
The outspoken Free West Papua advocate, the governor of PNG Oro Province, Gary Juffa has warned through his official Facebook page that:
“In case any of you have any misconception about your future fate at the hands of expanding Indonesian influence…here is a grim remainder…if they call our brothers and sisters monkeys…on their own land…that is exactly what they are calling us now”
The leaders of “Blue Pacific” cannot be naïve like a rabbit by inviting the wolves from Jakarta, Beijing and Canberra to discuss about what they are going to have for dinner. Dangerous and yet virtues rabbit is better than harmless and virtue less creature that lives only to be eaten by predators.
It is West Papua’s deepest hope that the Pacific Island leaders will not sacrifice West Papua by accepting a worldly materialistic offer by Jakarta, Beijing and Canberra. How remarkable it would be in this modern world for the racially abused and subjugated people are able to stand firm against the might and reject the gold in favour of their own souls. That would be the retelling of an old story written anew. (*)
Author is Australia-based anthropologist
Who actually benefits from the Trans Papua Highway?
Papua, Jubi – Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) researcher Cahyo Pamungkas says that the Trans Papua Highway has yet to bring any benefits to the Papuan people.
“The benefits for indigenous people can’t be seen yet. So people ask who exactly is the road for? Because the there is still illegal logging in the central highlands, the highlands are being destroyed, it’s easier for outsiders to exploit natural resources”, said Pamungkas at a press conference on the conflict in Nduga regency at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in Jakarta on Thursday July 18.
Pamungkas explained that instead of benefiting ordinary Papuans, the Trans Papua Highway threatens their economic wellbeing.
“Pig livestock from Toraja comes into Wamena. So the Wamena’s people’s pigs don’t sell. This threatens their economy. It is increasingly easy for outsiders to come to Wamena, so Wamena people see the road as a threat to their future”, explained Pamungkas.
Pamungkas said that the Trans Papua Highway project only connects regencies or cities and the benefits of this are not felt by the Papuan people. Meanwhile roads between villages and districts which are in fact what is actually needed are not being built.
“Yet roads like this (between villages and districts) are very important, for example simply to sell vegetables produced by farmers in markets”, said Pamungkas.
According to Pamungkas, the Trans Papua Highway actually facilitates the exploitation of natural resources which can be seen from large number of trees being felled and gold mining.
“Moreover when LIPI researched development on this road, we found many logging camps for logging in the direction of the Papua Lorentz National Park, which should a protected area”, explained Pamungkas.
Pamungkas is of the view that the government should immediately hold a dialogue with Papuan social leaders with the assistance of appropriate mediators.
“Because the most important thing at the moment is liberating the Papuan people from the memory of suffering which has built up over time. Particularly the acts of violence by security forces which has resulted in trauma for the residents of Nduga regency, Papua province”, he explained.
Local people’s rights
Expressing a similar view to Pamungkas, Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Aviva Nababan believes that the Trans Papua Highway does not provide any clear benefits. He also questions the government’s planning process for the road.
“Looking at it again from the process. Did the government design its function by thinking about the rights of the people the road impacts on? Did they really follow the principles of involving local communities? If not, this needs to be fixed. We think it shouldn’t be seen from the perspective of western Indonesia. There’s a road, lovely. There’s a road, great”, said Nababan at Jakarta LBH on Friday July 19.
Nababan warned that Indonesia has a commitment to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) meaning that it must involve local communities in all development planning.
He also asked the government to respect the rights of indigenous Papuans. Because according to Amensty’s research, there have been alleged human rights (HAM) violations which have made Nduga residence traumatised and afraid of the security forces.
“When there are problems of HAM violations related to law enforcement in Papua, the tendency is that the cases are rarely investigated. Let alone followed up, or satisfactory accountability”, he explained. (*)
Do you know how vital Papua is for the environment?
By Benjamin Ware
DO you know how vital Papua is for the environment? This province in Eastern Indonesia is home to the last big area of intact forest in the country, and one of the world’s most biodiverse. It is also the poorest part of Indonesia – nearly 30% of people here live in poverty.
Growing palm oil can be a way out of this poverty trap, but it also brings with it the risk of deforestation. In 2018 Greenpeace exposed large-scale deforestation in Papua linked to palm oil business Gama, which was then suspended from our supply chain.
That same year, Nestlé suspended 10 companies for violating our Responsible Sourcing Standard. Three for illegal deforestation in Papua, and one for the same offense in neighboring West Papua. This shows the seriousness of deforestation as a local issue.
What happens after we suspend a company from our supply chain?
Some companies continue with ‘business as usual’, while others sell off their remaining forested lands. Others, like Gama, act to halt deforestation and commit to ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) – the basis of responsible palm oil production and a requirement of our Responsible Sourcing Standard.
At Nestlé, we want to support companies like Gama to produce sustainable palm oil. Indeed, efforts are ongoing to develop standard re-entry criteria that suppliers found guilty of illegal deforestation must meet, before buying companies let them back into their supply chains.
Verifying supplier claims
We wanted to see Gama’s commitment to responsible production first hand, which is why Nestlé visited Papua in early 2019 with the NGO Aidenvironment Asia and one of our suppliers.
On the ground, we saw how Gama is implementing its new NDPE commitment, which involves working with Aidenvironment Asia on a remediation strategy for their lands in Papua and other parts of Indonesia.
Their work involves replanting ‘riparian zones’ (transitional zones between land and water) and deforested areas unplanted with palm oil, developing conservation plans for forested lands in Gama’s ‘land bank’, and generating compensation plans for lands cleared and planted.
Using concession maps from the supplier, Nestlé was able to monitor Gama’s sites via Starling. Since September 2018, this satellite-based system allows us to monitor our entire global palm oil supply chain for evidence of deforestation.
Satisfied with what we saw, we allowed Gama back into our supply chain on the condition that it does not clear any more forest or peatland (Aidenvironment will monitor this, and Nestlé also using Starling). Gama must also implement recovery and compensation plans that take account of local community needs.
Safeguarding people and planet
To some people, our move to allow Gama back into our supply chain before it completes its remediation plans might seem hasty. But we took this decision with one of our key Responsible Sourcing objectives in mind – what is best for people and planet.
In Papua, proper planning to support conservation and sustainable economic development is vital. Local communities want Gama to develop their lands. If Gama does not do so, it runs the risk of losing the lands, which another, less scrupulous company could then clear.
At the same time, conservation is vital. Locals we met also want to conserve their local forest, which is central to their culture. Indonesia’s government thinks similarly – it wants to develop the region whilst conserving 90% of its forest cover under the Papua Province Vision.
The situation is complex, and the need to balance conservation and development objectives is not unique to Indonesia. In South America, West Africa and beyond, we face similar challenges.
Nonetheless, if you take one message from this blog – this is it. We can only preserve forests by supporting those companies that embrace forest conservation as part of a sustainable economic development plan.
By excluding those companies that are found guilty of deforestation, but work hard thereafter to do the right thing, we risk endangering the magnificent forests that remain. (*)
The author is Global Head of Responsible Sourcing
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