By Dr Jim Elmslie
Honiara, Jubi – When considering the West Papuan application for MSG membership, Papua New Guinea should look closely at its own national interests.
These national interests are threatened by the explosive demographic changes and economic development currently underway across West Papua, but particularly along the 800 kilometer border with Indonesia.
PNG’s faces the very real risk of large numbers of West Papuan refugees destabilizing the entire western portion of the country, and the inevitable Indonesian military incursions that would follow.
The core of this threat is the fact that West Papua has suffered a demographic catastrophe since the Indonesian military takeover in 1962. Since 1971 the Papuan portion of the population has declined from 96% to less than 50% across the whole country.
In urban areas migrants make up the overwhelming majority, although in most rural areas Melanesians are still the majority. However as the migrant population continues to grow at 10.82%, while the Papuan population grows at only 1.84%, if current policies continue the Papuans will make up less than a third of the population by 2020 and thereafter be a dwindling minority.
Where this is relevant to PNG is that the two population groups: Christian Melanesian Papuans, and Muslim Asian Migrants, are fundamentally very different.
Furthermore research by Indonesian scholar, Cypri Dale, in the Keerom area between Jayapura and the PNG border near Vanimo, shows that the two groups live very different lives.
In this region in 2010, 60% of the population were migrants and 40% Papuans (using the above growth rates for the two groups would put the current population breakdown at 70:30 respectively in 2015). The two groups live in clearly defined areas with migrant regions containing almost all the sealed roads; electricity supply; running water; doctors and health facilities; schools, and government services, with the exception of military posts, most of which were in the Papuan areas. Economic and social development has been effectively ‘captured’ by the migrants.
Furthermore the two groups fear and mistrust each other: the migrants considering the Papuans backward and dangerous, while the Papuans are resentful of the migrants and terrified of the Indonesian military and police, who always side with migrants when conflicts arise.
Worse still, recent anecdotal reports have indicated that the police and soldiers are arming migrants. All this is creating a powder keg environment where even a small conflict can quickly escalate. The Papuans will lose these conflicts and the potential, or perhaps inevitability, of refugees is obvious. As are the consequences for PNG by having large numbers of refugees on its side of the border.
A key driver of this corrosive development is the loss of Papuan traditional land, both from the increasing number of migrant farmers establishing and expanding their operations, and by the establishment of large scale (over 20,000 hectare) oil palm plantations.
Massive oil palm plantations are planned or underway across West Papua, with the biggest single development in the Merauke region (on PNG’s southern border region). The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate will comprise of as much as 5 million hectares, with the first 1.25 million hectares fast tracked two weeks ago by President Jokowi to be completed in three years. The local landowners have not been consulted at all.
One possible action to slow or halt these processes is the recognition of traditional lands rights. Mechanisms already exist on a national scale for these rights to be granted under Indonesian law, as shown by Australian land rights researcher, Clancy O’Donnell.
Specifically these laws are the Indonesian Forestry Law 1999 and the Village Law 2014. These laws would enable traditional land owners to determine how their land is used, thus empowering them to stop the establishment of oil palm plantations. All they need is the provincial legislature in Jayapura to pass enabling legislation for the national laws to be triggered.
Here’s the rub. Many Indonesians, starting with President Jokowi, believe that it is in the national interest of Indonesia to develop these regions with more plantations and more migrants to work on them. They don’t want the process impeded by Papuan land rights, so the enabling laws are not passed.
This illustrates that PNG and Indonesia have fundamentally different national interests over West Papua. For PNG this is crucial: the country has enough grave problems without having its north coastline (Vanimo to Wewak) burdened with large numbers of refugees.
Indonesia is mostly concerned about ensuring the sovereignty of the Papuan provinces and sees this best achieved by marginalizing the Papuans and developing the border – except that this creates the problems outlined above.
In the end this might prove to be a disastrous choice for Indonesia. It may well result in large scale intercommunal violence that damages Indonesia’s international image and actually promotes international support for the West Papuan independence movement.
How can these problems be tackled? One way is by giving the Papuan umbrella group, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua membership in the MSG.
This would put pressure on Indonesia to start dealing fairly with its Melanesian citizens by recognizing their land rights through the implementation of enabling legislation in the provincial assembly, as well as reigning in gross human rights abuses that have reached epidemic proportions in 2015 (largely in response to the ULMWP bid for the MSG).
This need not question Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua, but would be an expression of support for West Papuan self-determination, particularly on the ground in villages where most West Papuans live.
If the MSG gives membership to Indonesia this chance will have been lost. Indonesian officials, whatever their race, will be obliged to follow Jakarta’s orders. Even if the representatives are the Governors of the Indonesia’s Melanesian provinces, as has been suggested) their ability to talk openly will be severely curtailed: former Papua Governor, Jap Salossa, is widely believed to have been poisoned in 2005 (a common tactic in West Papua) when he criticized Jakarta, although he was buried without an autopsy; yet another murky death in a land where many thousands have died mysteriously, or simply disappeared.
ULMWP is the only organization that can talk openly about the problems that exist in West Papua. Clearly this organization’s aim is independence for West Papua. This is because it is almost a universal sentiment amongst West Papuans that only through independence will they be able to live in peace and freedom, with their basic land and human rights respected.
They are rapidly gaining support throughout the region and across the world, driven by social media broadcasting gruesome evidence of ongoing gross human rights violations. It is actually in Indonesia’s interests to engage in meaningful dialogue with the West Papuans under the auspices of the MSG, something they would be forced to do if ULMWP was admitted.
The geographic centre of the debate over West Papua would shift from Jakarta to Port Vila, where the MSG is headquartered. This would be a good thing too.
It would force Jakarta to develop a clear policy on West Papua rather than the fractured and contradictory profusion of policies that now exist: even when the President announces policies such as allowing the entry of journalists, or the end of transmigration, he is immediately over ruled by ministers and bureaucrats. When the President himself cannot explain government policy it is clearly in a shambles.
As with all conundrums opportunity lurks: common ground must be sought and creative win-win policies pursed. For PNG that clearly lies with including UMLWP in the MSG as a way of protecting its western regions from refugees fleeing the humanitarian disaster unfolding in West Papua.
For Indonesia it would force the country to come to terms with its Melanesian subjects, not through marginalization, dispossession and annihilation – which will actually increase international support for West Papuan independence while running the very real risks of mass violence and even genocide, but through dialogue and negotiation.
And for the West Papuans themselves, victims as they are of an arbitrary European imposed border, any improvement in their basic rights would be a real gain, although they are unlikely to give up their calls for independence any time soon.
Dr Jim Elmslie is Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney. His book, Irian Jaya Under the Gun: Indonesian Economic Development versus West Papuan Nationalism, was published by University of Hawaii Press in 2002.
– See more at: http://www.pngloop.com/2015/06/23/png-ignores-west-papua-peril/#sthash.8CRvgymD.dpuf
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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