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Maori and Pacific Women Raise the West Papuan Flag in Otara

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Oceania interrupted campaign - Jubi

Oceania interrupted campaign – Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – On what should have been West Papuan Independence day a collective of Maori and Pacific women will raise the West Papuan Morning Star flag in Otara, South Auckland.

Oceania Interrupted is an Auckland based collective of Māori and Pacific women who use visual and performance art to raise awareness for the situation of the people of West Papua. The collective is calling on all supporters of a Free West Papua to stand in solidarity and watch the performance where they raise the Morning Star flag on Tuesday 1st December 2015, 5:30pm at Otamariki Park, Otara.

Te Rito Peyroux a Rotuman/Cook Island member of Oceania Interrupted said “It is important for us to remember our West Papuan brothers and sisters, and raise the Morning Star flag because, we can. Too many have suffered because they have been stripped of the liberties that we often take for granted”.

Oceania Interrupted uses visual and performance art to interrupt public spaces and to transpose the importance of West Papua’s struggle of independence to local social contexts. The collective aims to illuminate the connections of all Pacific peoples.

Oceania Interrupted’s first 8 performances referenced the imprisonment of Filep Karma, a political prisoner. Filep was released from prison on November the 19th after serving his full sentence (minus standard remissions) for participating in the raising of West Papua’s “Morning Star” flag on December 1, 2004.

Filep’s release is a reminder that arbitrary arrest and security force brutality and killings are a daily fact for West Papuans. Those who remain in prison for exercising their freedom of speech continue to be subject to the same cruel and abusive treatment that Filep has experienced.

Leilani Salesa a Samoan member of Oceania Interrupted said “Our freedom as indigenous Māori and Pacific women in Aotearoa New Zealand is inextricably bound up with that of our indigenous West Papuan brothers and sisters. Whilst we come together to raise the flag to show our solidarity, we know that West Papuans who raise the Morning Star flag will face brutality, harsh penalties, abuse e and torture.”

Oceania Interrupted is currently engaged in producing a series of 15 actions to raise awareness for and demonstrate solidarity with the people of West Papua. Action 9 Circle of Solidarity – Free West Papua will be performed on December the 1st at 5:30pm at Otamariki Park, on the corner of East Tamaki and Baird’s road’s in Otara, South Auckland. Parking is available on Cobham crescent. The performance will take place rain, hail or shine. (*)

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Indonesia’s political system has ‘failed’ its minorities – like West Papuans

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Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono … violent repression has “created unnecessary paranoia and racism among Indonesian migrants in West Papua”. Image: HRW

By David Robie

A human rights defender and researcher has warned in a new book published on the eve of the Indonesian national elections tomorrow that the centralised political system has failed many of the country’s 264 million people – especially minorities and those at the margins, such as in West Papua.

Author Andreas Harsono also says a “radical change is needed in the mindset of political leaders” and he is not optimistic for such changes after the election.

Harsono is author of Race, Islam and Power: Ethnic and Religious Violence in Post-Suharto Indonesia, a book based on 15 years of research and travel between Sabang in Aceh in the west and Merauke in West Papua in the East.

Founding President Sukarno used the slogan “from Sabang to Merauke” when launching a campaign – ultimately successful – to seize West Papua in 1961.

But, as Harsono points out, the expression should really be from Rondo Island (an unpopulated islet) to Sota (a remote border post on the Papua New Guinean boundary.

Harsono, a former journalist and Human Rights Watch researcher since 2008, argues that Indonesia might have been more successful by creating a federation rather than a highly centralised state controlled from Jakarta.

“Violence on post-Suharto Indonesia, from Aceh to West Papua, from Kalimantan to the Moluccas, is evidence that Java-centric nationalism is unable to distribute power fairly in an imagined Indonesia,” he says. “It has created unnecessary paranoia and racism among Indonesian migrants in West Papua.

‘They’re Melanesians’

“The Papuans simply reacted by saying they’re Melanesians – not Indonesians. They keep questioning the manipulation of the United Nations-sponsored Act of Free Choice in 1969.”

Critics and cynics have long dismissed what they see as a deeply flawed process involving only 1025 voters selected by the Indonesian military as the “Act of No Choice”.

Harsono’s criticisms have been borne out by a range of Indonesian activist and watchdog groups, who say the generals behind the two presidential frontrunners are ridden with political interests.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) have again warned that both presidential candidate tickets — incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and running mate Ma’ruf Amin as well as rival Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno — have close ties with retired TNI (Indonesian military) generals.

These retired officers are beholden to political interests and the prospect of resolving past human rights violations will “become increasingly bleak” no matter who is elected as the next president.

Kontras noted that nine out of the 27 retired officers who are behind Widodo and Ma’ruf have a “problematic track record on human rights”.

“Likewise with Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno where there are eight retired officers who were allegedly involved in past cases of HAM violations”, said Kontras researcher Rivanlee Anandar.

Prabowo himself, a former special forces commander, is implicated in many human rights abuses. He has been accused of abduction and torture of 23 pro-democracy activists in the late 1990s and he is regarded as having knowledge of the killing hundreds of civilians in Santa Cruz massacre in Timor-Leste.

90,000 killed post-Sukarno

Harsono’s 280-page book, with seven chapters devoted to regions of Indonesia, documents an ”internally complex and riven nation” with an estimated 90,000 people having been killed in the decade after Suharto’s departure.

“In East Timor, President Suharto’s successor B. J. Habibie agreed to have a referendum [on independence]. Indonesia lost and it generated a bloodbath,” says Harsono.

“Habibie’s predecessors, Megawati Sukanoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, refused to admit [that] the Indonesian military’s occupation, despite a United Nations’ finding, had killed 183,000 people between 1975 and 1999.”

Harsono notes how in 1945 Indonesia’s “non-Javanese founders Mohammad Hatta, Sam Ratu Langie and Johannes Latuharhary wanted an Indonesia that was democratic and decentralised. They advocated a federation.”

However, Sukarno, Supomo and Mohammad Yamin wanted instead a centralised unitarian state.

“Understanding the urgency to fight incoming Dutch troops, Latuharhary accepted Supomo’s proposal but suggested the new republic hold a referendum as soon as it became independent. Sukarno agreed but this decision has never been executed.”

The establishment of a unitarian state “naturally created the Centre”, says Harsono. “Jakarta has been accumulated and controlling political, cultural, educational, economic, informational and ideological power.

Java benefits

“The closer a region to Jakarta, the better it will benefit from the Centre. Java is the closest to the Centre.

“The further a region is from the Centre, the more neglected it will be. West Papua, Aceh, East Timor and the Moluccas are among those furthest away from Jakarta.”

The centralised political system needed a “long and complex bureaucracy” and this “naturally created corruption”, Harsono explains.

“Indonesia is frequently ranked as the most corrupt country in Asia. Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd listed Indonesia as the most corrupt country in Asia in 2005.”

Harsono also notes how centralised power has helped a religious and ethnic majority that sees itself as “justified to have privileges and to rule over the minorities”.

The author cites the poet Leon Agasta as saying, “They’re the two most dangerous words in Indonesia: Islam and Java.” Muslim majority and Javanese dominance.

Harsono regards the Indonesian government’s response to demands for West Papuan “self-determination” as “primarily military and repressive: viewing Papuan ‘separatists’ as criminals, traitors and enemies of the Republic of Indonesia”.

He describes this policy as a “recipe for ongoing military operations to search for and destroy Papuan ‘separatists’, a term that could be applied to a large, if not overwhelming, portion of the Papuan population”.

Ruthless Indonesian military

 

“The Indonesian military, having lost their previous power bases in east Timor and Aceh, ruthlessly maintain their control over West Papua, both as a power base and as considerable source of revenue.

“The Indonesian military involvement in legal businesses, such as mining and logging, and allegedly, illegal businesses, such as alcohol, prostitution, extortion and wildlife smuggling, provide significant funds for the military as an organisation and also for individual officers.”

Pro-independence leaders have called on West Papuans to boycott the Indonesian elections tomorrow.

Andreas Harsono launched his journalism career as a reporter for the Bangkok-based Nation and the Kuala Lumpur-based Star newspapers. In the 1990s, he helped establish Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) – then an illegal group under the Suharto regime, and today the most progressive journalists union in the republic.

Harsono was also founder of the Jakarta-based Institute for the Studies on the Free Flow of Information and of the South East Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA).

In a separate emailed interview with me in response to a question about whether there was light at the end of the tunnel, Harsono replied: I do not want to sound pessimistic but visiting dozens of sites of mass violence, seeing survivors and families’ who lost their lost ones, I just realised that mass killings took place all over Indonesia.

“It’s not only about the 1965 massacres –despite them being the biggest of all– but also the Papuans, the Timorese, the Acehnese, the Madurese etc.

“Basically all major islands in Indonesia, from Sumatra to Papua, have witnessed huge violence and none of them have been professionally understood. The truth of those mass killings have not been found yet.” (asiapacificreport.nz)

Professor David Robie is director of the Pacific Media Centre.

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Human Right

32,000 people flee violence in Papua – rights group

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West Papua Liberation Army unit, led by Egianus Kogoya. Derakma, Nduga regency, Papua. March 2019. Photo: Supplied

Papua, Jubi – A human rights group has reported that tens of thousands of people in Indonesia’s Papua province have been displaced by conflict.

The estimate is the gravest yet in an months-long war between security forces and rebel fighters in Papua.

The group, Front Line Defenders, claims more than 32,000 people have been forced to flee the central highlands regency of Nduga due to military operations.

Rights advocates with the group reported that some civilians had died in refugee camps, where conditions are poor and people lack food and water.

They allege Indonesian security forces shot dead two school children, damaged 34 schools and likely dropped bombs using helicopters in Nduga.

The military, which has been hunting rebel group the West Papua Liberation Army since December, has denied the use of bombs.

Front Line Defenders plan to submit their findings to Indonesia’s human rights commission.

Indonesia’s military has rubbished the reports that thousands have been displaced by the conflict.

A spokesperson for the military, Colonel Mohammed Aidi, said there is no population data for Nduga, implying the information is impossible to verify.

He said security forces have only provided safeguards and social assistance for members of the public.

Since January, Colonel Aidi said six soldiers have died in gunfire exchanges with rebels who have instigated attacks.

He also denied claims dozens of school buildings in Nduga had been damaged by soldiers. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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West Papuans urged to boycott Indonesian elections

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Benny Wenda, Wellington, 10 May 2017.Benny Wenda, Wellington, 10 May 2017. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Papua, Jubi – The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has urged all Papuans in Indonesia to boycott the upcoming national elections.

Indonesia, which has over 190 million eligible voters, goes to the polls on 17 April. It will be the first time the country’s president, vice president, and members of the legislature are elected on the same day.

The Liberation Movement’s chairman Benny Wenda has encouraged all West Papuans, and those sympathetic to the Papuan independence cause, to boycott the elections.

The UK-based Mr Wenda said Papuans don’t want a new Indonesian colonial ruler, but rather they want freedom.

“These elections are not for the Papuan people – they are for Indonesia. I’m calling on all of my people, whether rich or poor, civil servant or worker, military or civilian, from village or city, to peacefully boycott the Indonesian elections on April 17.

The upcoming presidential election sees the incumbent Joko Widodo being challenged by former military leader Prabowo Subianto, who lost to Mr Widodo in 2014.

In the previous poll, Mr Widodo won significantly more votes in Papua than Mr Prabowo.

Papua-based voters represent less than 2 percent of the republic’s total voters.

“We respect Indonesia’s right to hold elections in its own territory, but we will oppose the elections of the coloniser when they are forced upon us,” Mr Wenda said

“We have tried participating in the elections of the colonial master before – but we are still killed, tortured and discriminated against every day.”

Indonesia’s government says the incorporation of Papua into the republic is final, and that Papuans are participants in a democratic system.

However, while pushing the boycott, the Liberation Movement is encouraging people to rally on the 5th of April as a global day of action for West Papua.

This date marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Nieuw Guinea Raad (the West Papua National Parliament).

On April 5, 1961, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the international community formally recognised West Papua’s right to self-determination and eventual statehood.

A US-brokered agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia in 1962, without Papuan input, subsequently paved the way for an Indonesian takeover of the former Dutch New Guinea.

“I call on you all to prepare for an inevitable referendum on independence and intensify the struggle against the Indonesian occupation,” Mr Wenda said.

Last month, the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua, and the Papuan Student Alliance, both declared that they and their support base would boycott the elections.

According to the Papuan Student Alliance, neither presidential candidate had handled human rights violations in Papua well. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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