Jayapura, Jubi/ Asia New Zealand Foundation – Assisted by an Asia New Zealand Foundation media travel grant, Māori Television’s Native Affairs producer and cameraman Adrian Stevanon and freelance photojournalist Karen Abplanalp travelled to West Papua, Indonesia in August. They were the first New Zealand television crew to visit the province in 50 years.
In the days leading up to our assignment to Papua, a lot of their work colleagues were asking where they was going and why. Their reply was generally met with a confused look followed by “Papua? Is that in Papua New Guinea?”
The lack of knowledge and public awareness about a territory so close to Aotearoa is actually quite remarkable.
If you don’t know where Papua is, it’s located just north of Australia – the province occupying the western side of the island of New Guinea. The region is largely referred to as ‘West Papua’ by western countries, although the area is actually divided into two separate provinces of Papua and West Papua.
It’s a resource-rich land that has been governed by Indonesia since 1969. The province boasts the world’s largest goldmine, and one of the world’s largest rainforests. There has also been a bloody struggle for independence since Indonesia took over governance of the territory from the Dutch.
Since the Indonesian takeover, West Papua has also tainted by allegations of wide-spread human rights abuse, and environmental destruction.
For more than 50 years, West Papua has largely been a no-go zone for foreign journalists, and after three years of trying our Native Affairs team was finally granted a visa to enter. This was a unique opportunity that had to be accepted.
Flying into the capital of Jayapura, the thing that hit us first is the size, and the beauty of the place from above. On the ground, one of the first things I noticed was the fusion between Asia and the Pacific. The number of indigenous faces at the airport was dwarfed by those from other parts of Indonesia who now call West Papua home.
Jayapura itself is bustling metropolis, with a population of over 300,000. The level of development was not unexpected, but the size of the city sprawl was, as was the quality of the infrastructure – which was certainly better than we had anticipated. The military presence was noticeable, as too the interest from locals to our presence on the street with a TV camera.
For a place that has a somewhat violent and dangerous reputation, our experience was safe and enjoyable.
Jayapura is a great place with great people, but it’s also a place that’s grappling with some challenging social dynamics.
West Papua has an indigenous population of around two million people who speak more than 270 different languages.
They travelled to the highlands, where the vast majority of indigenous Papuans live. Their aim was visit some villages involved in a New Zealand aid project that’s focused on the growth and commercialisation of crops, in particular kumara or ‘ubi jalar’ as they call it in the Highlands.
There are many traditional and cultural similarities between Māori and the Dani people we connected with. From the way they greet guests, and cook their food, to the traditional gods they worship, the cultural parallels are clear to see.
The concerns around colonisation felt by the locals we met echo the sentiments felt here by Māori. The loss of traditional knowledge and culture was by far the greatest concern for the village elders we spoke to.
Adrian Stevanon and Karen Abplanalp describe their trip to Papua.
“As youth from the villages get educated and migrate to the cities in search of work, few are willing to return to the hard graft of village life. So much of the village way of life operates around working the land and their crops. The Indonesian influence of rice is strong, with free rice delivered to villages by the government; many villagers don’t see the value in continuing to grow their traditional crops,” said Adrian.
“We were told this can lead to a break down in the functioning of the village, and lead to issues of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Traveling to the highlands and connecting with some of the indigenous people of West Papua was such an incredible experience. Their hopes and dreams and dreams for their kids are the same as ours, so too are the dreams of the kids. One teenage boy we spoke to said he wanted to be a pilot, another girl wanted to be doctor so she could help the sick in her village. Both spoke about the struggles of life living in a poor community. The irony is, theirs is a resource-rich land, with a third of Indonesia GDP coming from Papua alone. Its promising to see the Indonesian government loosen their grip on the province and allowing foreign journalists to enter, we hope this continues,” Karen added. (*)
Asiki resident died in a health clinic after allegedly tortured by a police officer
Jayapura, Jubi – A resident of Asiki Sub-district, Boven Digoel Regency, Papua died in a health clinic of a palm oil plantation company PT Tunas Sawa Erma on Saturday (16/5/2020). Prior to his death, a police officer reportedly tortured him.
The apostolic administrator of the Merauke Archdiocese Monseigneur Petrus Canisius Mandagi MSC asked the authority to investigate the incident and its perpetrator accordingly. Meanwhile, Yan Christian Warinussy, the Executive Director of the Institute for Research, Investigation and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH) Manokwari, asked the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to intervene the investigation.
On Saturday morning Marius Betera found banana plants in his garden located in the plantation area of PT Tunas Sawa Ema (TSE) in Camp 19 destroyed. Hence, he thought the company’s excavator did it.
He then went to the police station in Camp 19 to file a complaint. When he couldn’t meet the police officers there, he went to PT TSE’s office to express his grievance. He complained that the management of PT TSE never gave him a notice about the area clearing. It made him upset and at the same time, lost.
When leaving the company’s office, Betera met a police officer with the initial “M”. He punched and kicked him on the stomach in front of the employees of PT TSE. From some witnesses, Jubi received information saying that Betera’s ear was bleeding from the beating.
Around 11 pm, Betera returned to the police station at Camp 19 to file a complaint on his persecution but couldn’t meet anyone there. Around 1 pm, he felt unwell. People bought him to the health clinic of PT TSE at Camp 19. He then reportedly died in that clinic.
Concerning his death, the Apostolic Administrator of the Merauke Archdiocese Monseigneur Petrus Canisius Mandagi MSC asked for investigation over the incident and said the perpetrator should go on trial. “I strongly condemn this murder. Killing anyone is a crime against humanity. Anyone who perpetrated this murder, especially if he was a member of security forces, must immediately be arrested, tried and punished,” said the bishop.
Bishop Mandagi firmly said that Papuans, like any other human races, are a picture of God. He warned that every police officer stationed in Papua should represent a character of security forces who commit to protecting people.
“It means the police should protect the entire people, not only those who work in the company. If there is a problem, they should put a dialogue as a priority, not violence,” said the bishop.
Separately, the Executive Director of LP3BH Manokwari Yan Christian Warinussy stated the alleged persecution towards Marius Betera must be thoroughly investigated. He said this violence act might involve some other police officers.
Therefore, he urged the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in the investigation of this case. “We urge the National Human Rights Commission to get involved in the investigation over this case. This case should be openly investigated, [so that’ the perpetrator can be examined and tried before the Merauke District Court,” he said. (*)
Jubi journalist Victor Mambor contributed in this article
Reporter: Angela Flassy
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Joyce Lin, a pilot of MAF crashed plane was also an IT specialist graduate from MIT
Jayapura, Jubi – An aircraft operated by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) was reportedly being crashed and drown in Lake Sentani on Tuesday (12/5/2020). Locals reported the incident after hearing an explosion. After two minutes take-off from Sentani Airport to Mamit, Tolikara Regency, the aircraft lost contact with the air traffic control tower.
Tolikara Regent Usman Wanimbo told Jubi that the crashed aircraft was possibly carrying books and stationeries for Yayasan Papua Harapan based in Mamit. President GIDI, the Rev. Dorman Wandikbo, also said the same thing.
“The aircraft was carrying school books and stationeries to Mamit,” said the Rev. Wandikbo by phone to Jubi. The pilot of the crashed plane later identified as Joyce Lin, a US citizen. Her body found at a depth of 13 meters in Lake Sentani.
Joyce, according to the Rev. Wandikbo, had just flown in Papua, although she had many experiences flying the small aircraft.
The website maf.org acknowledges Joyce Lin as a pilot and IT specialist. As a pilot, she flew the aircraft to help people living in remote and isolated areas by providing medical evacuation service for saving a life. She also transported logistic supplies for community development, missionaries, teachers, and humanitarian workers to these remote locations. Meanwhile, as an IT specialist, Joyce work to set up and maintain the computer networks for missionaries and humanitarian workers to contact their communities and to access information on the Internet.
Joyce Lin grew up in Colorado and Maryland. She involved in a non-denomination local evangelist church service from a young age. At the age of eight, she showed her interest in everything linked with computers, mainly computer programming. Her interest in aviation also developed at an early age when her neighbouring pilot took her to the local air show.
She later took the computer science in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Engineering from the MIT. Because she had an interest in aviation, she also obtained a certificate of the private pilot while still in college.
After graduation, Joyce Lin worked as a computer specialist at a commercial company for ten years until obtaining a position of the Director of Engineering, while growing her enthusiasm towards seminary at the same time. She then registered as a student at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and graduated with a Master of Divinity. While studying theology there, she learned about the missionary flying service. It surprised her when knowing that there is a job that can combine her interest in computers, aviation and Christianity service at once. From there, she found a strong call to work as a missionary pilot. She had instrument certification and commercial flying certificate and experience working as a flight instructor to meet the requirement as a pilot for MAF. (*)
Reporter: Victor Mambor
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Before being released, Papua political prisoners in Jakarta will undergo a rapid test
Jayapura, Jubi – Following the release of Issay Wenda two weeks ago, four of five Papuan political prisoners will leave the Salemba detention centre, Central Jakarta. The four political prisoners are Dano Anes Tabuni, Ambrosius Mulait, Paulus Surya Anta Ginting and Charles Kossay.
Besides some administration concerns, Surya Anta and compatriots will undergo a rapid test (initial screening) to detect their antibodies, namely IgM and IgG, which are produced by the human’s body to combat the coronavirus. Human’s body will produce these antibodies when exposed by the coronavirus.
“I am preparing the rapid test tool,” Ruth Ogetay, the nurse for Papuan political prisoners as well as a member of the Advocacy Team for Papua, told Jubi this morning by phone.
Ogetay who worked as an analyst in the laboratory of PGI Cikini Hospital, Central Jakarta, explained that this is a way to prevent the coronavirus spread. Therefore, she wants to ensure the health condition of the political prisoners before leaving the detention centre to meet their family and relatives.
“It only needs a few moments, about 5-10 minutes to find out the result. If the result is negative, they can meet their family and friends who will come to pick them up later,” said Ogetay.
“While Surya and other friends are approaching their time of freedom, it’s still uncertain for Ariana Elopore,” Michael Himan separately told Jubi.
He recently received information about this from the Prosecutor Office. He said the Attorney Office already sent a letter to release Elopore today along with other four prisoners, but there is another issue.
Ariana Elopore who detained in Pondok Bambu—a detention centre for women, was declared “not able to be released” because she had to undergo a quarantine imposed by the detention centre authority with other detainees.
“The Attorney Office said 12 detainees found positive (of having COVID-19) in the detention centre. Therefore, she is not allowed to go (today) because of the quarantine,” Himan explained.
Concerning the statement from the Attorney Office, Himan said the advisors’ team would directly meet the Pondok Bambu detention centre authority for a further explanation behind the “detention” of his client.
Previously, the five political prisoners accused of treason and conspiracy in according to Article 106 of the Criminal Code in conjunction with Article 55 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code or Article 110 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code.
No appeal will charge
Himan explained that his clients would not submit an appeal on the grounds of their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This decision was taken through a comprehensive discussion with his clients, their family and legal advisors,” Himan stated in the press release of the Advocates Team for Papua received by Jubi.
Himan further explained that the release of his five clients had met the conditions stipulated in the parole by the Minister of Law and Human Rights through the Ministerial Decree No. M.HH-19.PK.01.04.04/2020 concerning the repatriation and discharge of adult and juvenile prisoners through the assimilation and integration programs to prevent and control the COVID-19 spread.
The Papuan political prisoners in Jakarta were convicted to 9 months sentence, except for Issay Wenda, who charged to 8 months in prison. (*)
Reporter: Yuliana Lantipo
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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- Asiki resident died in a health clinic after allegedly tortured by a police officer 20 May 2020
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