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”.
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
DVI Team identifies 10 victims of crashed MI-17 helicopter
Jayapura, Jubi – Some 10 out of the 12 victims of the MI-17 helicopter that had crashed on Mount Mandala, Oksob Sub-district, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province, have been identified, according to a spokesman.
The victims were identified from their uniform, Col. Infantry Binsar Sianipar, commander of the military regional command (Korem) 172/PWY, stated on Saturday.
Only two victims could not be identified owing to the condition of their bodies. The police’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team will identify them, he added.
Sianipar is currently leading the operation to evacuate victims of the crashed MI-17 helicopter.
The 10 identified bodies belong to 1st Lt Ahwar, the copilot; 2nd Sgt Dita Ilham; Capt. Bambang, the flight engineer; Capt Haris Afik, the pilot; Chief Sgt Suryatna, T/I; 1st Private Asharul, the mechanic; 2nd Private Sudjono Kaimudin; 2nd Private Yanuar; 1st Private Risno; and 2nd Private Tegar.
The Russia-made military helicopter, operated by the Indonesian Army Aviation Center, with 12 passengers aboard, including five members of the 725 Infantry Battalion/WRG, went missing during its flights from Oksibil to Sentani, Papua, on June 28, 2019.
The ill-fated helicopter is believed to be in a mountainous area at 12,500 feet above sea level, with a slope of around 90 degrees, or perpendicular.
A helicopter, earlier deployed to locate the Mi-17 helicopter, managed to spot it only once while being airborne and was compelled to return to Oksibil owing to bad weather, Sianipar stated, adding that most likely, the rescuers must head to the location on foot. (*)
Bad weather caused Indonesian Army’s MI-17 crash in Papua
Jayapura, Jubi – The Indonesian Army’s Mi-17 helicopter that crashed on Mount Mandala in Oksop Sub-district, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province, and killed 12 people aboard, was owing to bad weather, according to an official.
“I think the pilot had attempted to re-direct the helicopter to the original location due to foggy weather, but when the helicopter turned, it crashed into the mountain,” Major General Herman Asaribab, commander of the Regional Military Command (Pangdam) XVII/Cenderawasih, remarked here on Saturday.
In response to the press’ questions, he noted that the weapons carried by the fallen military officers were being kept by local hunters and the weapons would be returned to the authorities.
“The local residents will return the weapons of the military officers killed in the helicopter accident,” he said.
The commander, who visited the Police’s Bhayangkara Hospital to see the bodies of the fallen officers and meet their family members, expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
The helicopter reportedly lost contact during its flight from Oksibli to Sentani on June 28, 2019. Since the day it went missing, search efforts have been steadily made to locate the helicopter by involving a Bell Helicopter 206 and Bell Helicopter 412 bearing registration number HA-5177.
However, the SAR’s efforts to locate the missing helicopter had been hindered by factors, including erratic weather conditions and difficulties on ground due to inaccessibility to roads.
The MI-17 helicopter, bearing registration number HA-5138, was carrying 12 passengers and crew members on board, which had earlier flown to Okbibab to deliver logistics to soldiers serving in the area.
The crew members aboard the helicopter were pilots CPN Captain Aris and CPN Lieutenant Bambang, co-pilot First Lieutenant CPN Ahwar, Head Sergeant Suriyatna, Sergeant Dita, Head Private Dwi Purnomo, and Private Aharul.
The passengers, who were members of the Battalion 725/WRG, comprised Second Sergeant Ikrar Setya Nainggolan, Private Yanuarius Loe, Private Risno, Second Private Sujono Kaimuddin, and Second Private Tegar Hadi Sentana. (*)
Stop criminalization over Papuan activists and free political prisoners
Jayapura, Jubi – The rights of freedom of expression in the second administration period of President Joko Widodo have still in concern to human rights activists. Democracy index 2019 released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) put the democracy in Indonesia is the category of flawed democracy with index 6.48.
“One of the factors contributing to this low rate index is control and repressive acts such as the restriction over freedom of assembly and expression. The restriction of civil movements including student’s rally, criminalization against activists, farmers and students to restriction on freedom of expression on political free choice of indigenous Papuans,” said the Deputy Director of ELSAM (Institute of Human Rights Studies and Advocacy) Andi Muttaqien in a release received by Jubi on Saturday (8/2/2020).
According to him, the restriction against the freedom of political expression of indigenous Papuans has raised an assumption that the Government of Indonesia had been placing Papuans as “the second-class citizen” who has no rights to express their political view and opinion.
“The human rights issue and conflict in Papua has endured for decades and never been solved until today. The central government seems to neglect indigenous Papuans to be minorities and marginalized in their own land. The security forces have acted repressively to any forms of the political expression of indigenous Papuans by giving them a stigma as a separatist,” he said.
Based on monitoring and documentation conducted by ELSHAM in the second quarter (August-December) of 2019, the criminalization against the Papuan political activists has increased drastically. The security forces have massively seized Papuans on many occasions. These acts have mostly ended in the arrestation and detention of Papuans.
ELSHAM’s data showed that as per 28 January 2020, there are 100 Papuan political prisoners behind bars.
Earlier, Papuan Behind Bars confirmed 26 political prisoners detained in Papua in 2018, consisted of 25 indigenous Papuans and a journalist of Poland national Jakob Skrzypski. But, the number of political prisoners in 2019 has sharply increased to 77 new prisoners who arrested in civil demonstrations during August and September 2019. The increase happened concerning the incident of racist taunts towards Papuan students on Monday, 16 August 2019.
There are also some cases against Papuan political activists which seized public attention. It includes the case against Septi Meidogda (Gempar Papua Chairman) arrested in Manokwari on 18 September 2019 and charged with Information (ITE) Law by accusing him to provoke the public on Facebook dated 17 September 2019.
Then, the case of Mispo Gwijangge who accused to murder 30 construction workers in Nduga on 2 December 2018. There are flawed aspects related to his arrest, such as he does not understand Indonesian and only speak his local dialect. Mispo is illiterate. He cannot write, read and count nor able to specify the day or date. He does not know his date of birth and his age. During the investigation, he even did not understand any questions posed by the police officers.
Next, the case involved six political prisoners Surya Anta, Charles Kossay, Dano Tabuni, Issay Wenda, Ambrosius Mulait and Ariana Elopere who currently detained at Salemba prison, Jakarta for treason because of raising the Morning Star in front of the Presidential Palace on 28 August 2019. The police arrested them two days after the rally. Currently, most political prisoners are undergoing the trial at court. However, some prisoners are now in home-detention, while others are still in prison.
“The use of treason article and ITE Law against Papuan political prisoners are exaggerated and not necessary. Therefore, each person who considered doing the treason act and brought to court should be released,” he said.
ELSHAM considers that the restriction to the rights of freedom of expression imposed by the treason article has gone beyond the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which ratified by the Indonesian Government. The detention against citizens by state because of their political view also considered violating the rights to freedom of expression and opinion in which protected by Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution and other laws.
“President Jokowi should instruct the Attorney General to immediately stop or withdraw all charges against defendants and or Papuan political prisoners who accused with treason and ITE articles,” he said.
ELSHAM also asked the Indonesian Police Chief to order his staff to use a dialogical approach and stop all forms of discrimination against Papuan activists. (*)
Reporter: Yance Wenda
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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