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Papuan plea for Jakarta to open up region

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Yunus Wonda, the chairman of Papua’s parliament (DPRP) Yunus Wonda, the chairman of Papua’s parliament (DPRP) Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

Papua, Jubi – Papua’s provincial government is frustrated over a lack of action by Indonesia’s central government to open up direct international flights to Papua.

Connecting the country more to the Pacific Islands region is a stated aim of the Indonesian government of Joko Widodo.

The aim was writ large at Indonesia’s landmark Pacific Exposition trade and culture event held in Auckland last month.

Indonesia’s Ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, described the event as “a platform to expand networking for all Pacific countries in various economic sectors, including tourism, trade, and investments”.

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But according to the provincial government of Papua, despite Jakarta’s talk about connecting Pacific peoples, West Papuans are more isolated than ever.

Indonesian restrictions on access to Papua region for foreign humanitarian agencies, researchers and media are well known. But getting in and out of the region is also difficult for West Papuans themselves.

It’s been decades since there were direct flights to Papua from neighbouring Papua New Guinea where West Papuans have many family and cultural links.

The chairman of the Papuan People’s Assembly, Yunus Wonda, said the provincial government had been requesting Jakarta’s help on this front for years — without success. It was, he suggested, a reflection of a lingering trust issue between the Indonesian state and West Papuans.

“So what the leaders of Papua would like to see is affirmative action from the central government to truly show the people of Papua that it would really like to open up this region to the rest of the world, particularly to the Pacific,” Mr Wonda said through a translator.

“It will also reflect on the trust that the people of Papua would have in the central government of Indonesia.”

Ambassador Yahya said there should be no impediment to international links to Papua, suggesting that the ball was not in central government’s court.

“Immigration and customs are now ready, security has no issue. We are now waiting for airlines to fly the new routes,” he said.

In 2017, PNG’s national carrier, Air Niugini, was looking at starting direct flights to Papua’s capital Jayapura. Ultimately, the idea was put on ice partly because the airline was discouraged by hurdles within the Indonesian system.

As it stands, if a West Papuan wishes to travel to neighbouring or regional countries such as PNG, Australia or New Zealand, they have the onerous mission of flying first to Bali in the opposite direction and then taking another set of flights to their destination. It may take them a whole day.

“It could much more simple having direct flights to these places,” Mr Wonda said.

He cited the example of Surabaya as a province within Indonesia which has benefitted from direct international flights links.

“But Papuan people in a way have been isolated from the rest of the world, and therefore the hope is in the coming years for Papua to be opened up to the rest of the world.”

Papua’s Governor Lukas Enembe has been outspoken about his desire to see the province connect more with Pacific island countries, particularly PNG, in the areas of culture, politics and trade, recognising the potential for building small to medium business links.

During a rare visit to the neighbouring Melanesian country last year, Mr Enembe and counterparts in several PNG provinces met and agreed on growing ties.

Leaders in Jayapura acknowledge that Jakarta pays lip service to forging links between Indonesia’s eastern region and Pacific countries but is extremely sensitive about anything that might highlight the self-determination aspirations of Papuans.

“We haven’t seen any real action,” Mr Wonda said, adding that, fundamentally, it would come down to whether Indonesia’s government trusts the people of Papua.

In the meantime, the Papua government is waiting to see if all the talk of connectivity at the Pacific Expo will truly fly. (*)

 

Source: RNZ Pacific

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Individuals might take advantage of current situation in Papua for own interests to meet President Widodo

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Papua parliament member from the Democratic fraction, Emus Gwijangge. – Jubi/Arjuna

Jayapura, Jubi – Emus Gwijangge, Papua parliament member from the Democratic fraction, appeals to any individuals or groups to not exploit the current situation in Papua for their personal or group interests.

He said this to pointing some recent group meetings with President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. The first group, he mentioned, met the president and then proposed some requests, while another group claimed Papuan youth representatives met some state officials. And the most recently some officials of the Indonesian community group in Papua met President Widodo and asked the president to divide the region of Papua into seven indigenous territories in both Papua and Papua Barat provinces.

“Everyone has a right to meet the president. But please do not act on behalf of indigenous Papuans while requesting something to the president,” Gwijangge told Jubi on Wednesday (16/10/2019).

According to him, indigenous Papuans never ask for a title, new regional split or anything else. What they want is the central government sit together with them in a forum facilitated by the third parties addressing some issues that occurred in Papua.

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“What indigenous peoples want is a historical correction as well as the settlement of many cases of human rights violations in Papua. Therefore, the Melanesian race no needs to continue our contention against the central government. We shouldn’t go to Jakarta for asking so many random requests,” he said.

Moreover, he hopes President Widodo and other state officials should carefully accept the proposed meeting by any groups from Papua who claimed to represent indigenous peoples.

He said if the president and state officials want to meet indigenous Papuans, they must invite the indigenous representatives. Also, the provincial government officials, local parliament and Papua’s People Assembly members and religious leaders are there to consider.

“The sort of this representation would guarantee that the aspirations delivered to the president are coming from the indigenous Papuans. It would contribute to the future of our grandchildren for they would not be engaged in the same problems and continuously become victims,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Taufan Damanik, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said Komnas HAM has repeatedly advised President Jokowi to come to Papua for a dialogue. The president is suggested meeting people and any relevant stakeholders to solve problems in Papua.

However, he said, the president has contrary invited other groups, who claimed themselves as Papuan leaders, to Jakarta.

“Inviting a group of people from Papua to Jakarta is not what we meant, but the president himself needs to come to Papua,” said Ahmad Taufan. (*)

Reporter: Arjuna Pademme

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Discrimination handling refugees hurts Papuans

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Papuan students studying in Java Island in a protest demanding justice for committed violence by the Indonesian military against civilians in Ndugama, Papua – Jubi/AMP Documentation

Jayapura, Jubi – The way government handling the humanitarian conflict in Papua has become a spotlight. Many people think the government are being discriminative in handling Nduga refugees compared to refugees from Wamena.

A native Ndugama Resina Lokbere said that she is discouraged seeing how the government differently treated refugees from both areas. “I see a huge difference approach here. Although the government always declare our national motto ‘unity in diversity’, but I have not seen this applied in Papua. A conflict in Nduga has occurred since 1 December 2018. Since then, Nduga residents must leave their villages and flee to other regions and the jungle to avoid a military operation,” she said.

Moreover, she said if the government are a concern in settling the humanitarian conflict in Papua, they should treat people fairly. The government should treat people equally, regardless of indigenous Papuans or non-Papuans.

“Thousands of youth and children drop out of school, and now they are living under poor health condition. There is economic loses as well. Who knows whether they will be survived or dead after a few months of suffering without enough food and water? I don’t know. Only God is the witness of their suffering,” said Resina whose relatives refuge from Nduga.

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In her view, the way the government handling the issue of refugees can create a barrier in society. She thinks the government has indirectly built a wall between one community to others.

“The government should not perceive conflicts in Nduga and Wamena merely from a political view but also a humanitarian aspect. They are all your people. They need you. They need your action, not your promises on the public stage,” she said.

Meanwhile, a local parliament member Laurenzus Kadepa also think the government has shown different response in handling refugees due to conflicts occurred in Nduga and Wamena.

According to him, he observed that the victims of conflict in Wamena were promptly evacuated or accommodated with adequate facilities. They had enough food and other basic needs during the evacuation. It was opposite to what had happened to Nduga residents. They had to walk for days from their villages to Wamena and other regions.

“While there was a lack of access to food aid distribution for Nduga residents, it didn’t happen for Wamena refugees. They had planes to transport them, shelter and enough food,” he said.

Seeing what has been happening lately in Papua, the relevant stakeholders in Papua and the central government should immediately think a solution to end this current complicated situation. (*)

Reporter: Agus Pabika

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Five bodies discovered in Mbua, allegedly shot by military culprits

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Excavation of five bodies discovered in Gua Batu, Mbua. – JapHAM Documentation

Jayapura, Jubi – Residents and activists from Pegunungan Tengah Human Rights Defender Networks (JapHAM) discovered five bodies on Thursday (10/20/2019) in Iniye Village, Mbua Sub-district, Nduga Regency. The bodies are suspected of the shooting victims of military culprits and covered by grass and leaves before being buried in one hole.

Nduga youth leader Samuel Tabuni, who is also a relative of the victims, said the victims left Wamena on 20 September for picking food supplies by car. They went together with a group of young men. Some group members then separated for taking food to their villages. Meanwhile, the victims took their supplies to Gua Batu, Gunung Kanbobo because they lived far away and decided to stay in Iniye Village.

“The next day on 21 September, the five victims went to take the food they stored at Gua Batu. Another group followed them later, but while they were walking, they heard gunfire. They were scared and decided not to continue to their walk to Gua Batu. They walked back to Ineye and called me,” Samuel Tabuni told on Thursday (10/10/2019).

However, after the call, he wasn’t sure about what had happened in Ineye. So he asked the police for further investigation. But the police said there was no report of the shooting incident in Mbua.

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“The victims are my relatives, so I must continue to find the truth. After twenty days, it finally reveals that allegedly military culprits have shotted these five people,” said Samuel Tabuni.

He said a resident who called him witnessed military personnel at around Gua Batu.

The five bodies later identified as Mrs Yuliana Dorggi (35), Mrs Jelince Bugi (25), Mrs Macen Kusumbrue (26), Tolop Bugi (13) and Hardius Bugi (15).

“Local people and JapHAM Pegunung Tengah led by Theo Hesegem discovered their bodies,” said Samuel Tabuni.

Meanwhile, Kodam (regional military command) XVII/Cenderawasih admitted to Jubi that they have not yet received any information regarding the shooting incident in Iniye Village.

“We have not received an official report from the local unit,” said Colonel Eko Daryanto, Kodam spokesperson, to Jubi via WhatsApp.

Since a military conflict occurred in Nduga in the early of December last year, 189 residents are reportedly dead because of starvation in a refugee camp or shot by the military and police. Following the incident, thousands of Nduga residents have fled, and 39 churches have vacated.

Currently, according to Samuel Tabuni, Nduga residents demand the government to withdraw the joint military and police troops from Nduga. Furthermore, Nduga urgently needs humanitarian aid to supply food, medicine and support from the international humanitarian organisation to conduct an independent investigation on human rights violations in Nduga.

Meanwhile, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe hope Nduga refugees are not treated differently with refugees from another conflict in Wamena.

“Nduga residents are also the Indonesian citizens who should be treated equally as other residents,” said Governor Enembe.

Further, he said the case of Nduga refugee is an extraordinary case related to a humanitarian issue.

Therefore, he said he already communicated with the regents of Jayawijaya and Lanny Jaya because most of Nduga refugees are currently staying in these two regencies. He asked the regents from both regencies to treat Nduga refugees well because they are also Papuan citizens who need the attention of the government. (*)

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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