Papua, Jubi – A special mission from the World Council of Churches has criticised the ongoing human rights violations by Indonesian security forces in the West Papua region after its five-day visit to Indonesia last week and has called for “more openness” by the authorities.
It is also said Papuan people seemed to be “systemically marginalised” and urged more dialogue without conditions.
The ecumenical delegation coordinated by the WCC visited Indonesia on February 15-22, including the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat (West Papua) – where increasing violence and discrimination against indigenous Papuan people was recently highlighted in a joint statement by five UN human rights mandate-holders.
The purpose of the delegation’s visit was to express solidarity and encourage member churches and related organisations in their efforts for justice and peace in Indonesia.
While in Papua and Papua Barat, the delegation members met local church leaders, victims of human rights violations and conflict, traditional leaders, the governors of both provinces and other local government representatives, and Indonesian military and police officials in Jayapura, Manokwari, Merauke and Wamena.
“Access to the Papua region has been severely restricted in the past,” said WCC director for international affairs Peter Prove.
“We greatly appreciate the fact that Indonesian authorities enabled our delegation’s visit to take place, and we hope that this will be the beginning of more openness and increased access for others to the territory and its people.”
However, members of the delegation were alarmed to hear from almost all the Papuans they met of the severity of the problems they continue to face.
Dr Jochen Motte, deputy general secretary of United Evangelical Mission, said: “As somebody who had the opportunity to be part of the WCC team visit in 1999, it was sad to realise that the issues mentioned in the report at that time today are almost the same and that the Special Autonomy Status … could not meet the expectations of the Papuan people and bring an end to discrimination and human rights violations.”
The Special Autonomy Law was enacted in 2001 as a basis for Papuans to play a role in determining their own political, social, cultural and economic development within the Republic of Indonesia.
But almost all Papuans the delegation members encountered – including local government officials – considered Special Autonomy a failure, and that its most important elements had not been implemented.
The delegation was concerned to learn that due to migration and demographic shifts, indigenous Papuans now form a minority in their own land.
Landgrabbing, environmental degradation and accelerating destruction of the forest and river resources upon which Papuans’ livelihoods traditionally depended were frequent complaints heard by the delegation.
According to Papuan counterparts the prevailing development model in the territory “is for others, not for us”.
Dr Emily Welty, vice-moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, said: “Papuan people seem to be systemically marginalised and excluded in all areas of life.”
In Wamena and Jayapura, delegation members met internally-displaced people who had fled from conflict and Indonesian military and police operations in the Nduga region following an incident on 2 December 2018 in which 21 road construction workers were reported killed by an armed group.
The total number of IDPs is unknown, but many are thought to be still taking refuge in the forest without support.
Bishop Abednego Keshomshahara of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania said: “It was painful to see so many child victims of this violence who fear to return home because of the presence of military and police who should be the ones protecting them in their villages and schools.”
During the visit to Papua the delegation received a joint appeal from the leaders of four churches in Papua – the GKI-TP, the KINGMI Church in Tanah Papua, the Evangelical Church in Tanah Papua (GIDI), and the Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua – calling for international ecumenical support for a comprehensive political dialogue for the resolution of the situation in Papua.
Rev. James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said: “It is clear that dialogue without preconditions is the only path forward in such a situation as we encountered in Papua.”
Organised as part of the WCC’s “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace”, the visit focused on issues concerning religious freedom and inter-religious harmony in Indonesia, and the human rights situation in Papua. (Asian Pasific Report)
The way Papuansphoto Community calls to protect Cycloop
Jayapura, Jubi – Papuan youth from Papuansphoto Community held an environmental action to protect the buffer zone of the Cycloop mountains where precisely located at the rectorate of the University of Cenderawasih.
Around 50 participants joined in the event held on Saturday (8/2/2020) in Waena, Heram Sub-district, Jayapura City. They planted trees and took photos of the natural surroundings.
The Papuansphoto General Chairman Whens Tebay told Jubi on Sunday (9/2/2020) that this action was to demonstrate their concern for the Cycloop area.
“Our concept of photography is to save the forest and humans. So, it was two activities in one event. We planted 50 various tree seedlings,” said Tebay.
The various tree seedlings which brought from the Papua Provincial Forestry Office are the banyan, pine, acacia and weki.
“This is the first event in 2020. There would be more events such as training or workshop on photography to be held in Jayapura,” he said.
Furthermore, Tebay who obtained his bachelor degree from the International Relations of Science and Technology University of Jayapura (USTJ) warned the city and suburb residents of Jayapura to protect their environment, especially Cycloop Mountains as a water source for dwellers living in both areas.
Earlier, Tebay said Papuansphoto had conducted a similar project titled “Save Water, Forest and the Land” on 1 February 2019. At that time, the community worked with native Papuans and Elenggen Art studio.
In the meantime, Gamel from Rumah Bakau Community thinks the concept of event held by Papuansphoto was creatively interesting because they were not only planting trees but turning such activity to be the artwork of photography.
According to him, for those who do not really like reading, have little interest in literacy, the photography at least can bring the actual pictures contained environmental messages.
“While our community has started the environmental action since 1 January 2020 by collecting rubbish leftover from the New Year’s Eve and run some ‘goes-to-school’ events related to environmental issues. The motivation of young people must always be maintained and never stop to try,” he said.
Jayapura City is located in the Cycloop mountainous area and often hit by floods and landslides during the rainy season. It is also said the water flow rate in the Cycloop buffer zone continuously declined.
While, on the other hand, waste and rubbish scatter everywhere and deforestation by irresponsible people has been continuously happening. As a result, the water surface at Kampwolker River, for example, has gradually dropped.
Meanwhile, a Waena resident Yustinus said locals recently are struggling to get water due lacking water supplies from Water Service Company (PDAM).
In Perumnas 2 (Waena), PDAM water supplies not operated for three days. Residents must buy some water at the nearest water depot for daily consumption, such as for washing and cooking.
“In the past, water from PDAM was available for 24 hours. Now, it changes drastically,” he said. Therefore, he asks everyone to protect the Cycloop area as the water source area. (*)
Reporter: Timoteus Marten
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Raja Ampat Government accused to violate tenure rights over two years of land occupation
Sentani, Jubi – The landowner of 3 hectares of the customary land asks the local government of Raja Ampat to return the land and pay the rent for two-years occupation.
The local government was permitted to use the land for two years, from 2004 to 2006, based on the mutual agreement. However, when the landowner asked the local government to return it and pay the rent, it found out the land was registered as an asset of the local government since 2007.
Following the land dispute, the customary people then brought the case to court. Here the statement declared by their legal counsel Haris Azhar from Lokataru, the Law and Human Rights Office to Jubi via WhatsApp on Tuesday (4/2/2020).
“The Local Government of Raja Ampat deprived the tenure land rights of indigenous Raja Ampat arbitrary. Therefore, Lokataru, the Law and Human Rights Office, as their legal counsel, condemns the land occupation by the local government over the tenure land owned by Hj. Salim family. The land is located in Waisai, Raja Ampat Regency. We found some facts showing the practice of deprivation over this land,” said Haris Azhar.
First, the regional government of Raja Ampat has occupied the land borrowed from the customary landowner for more than two years. It violated the two years agreement, namely from 2004 to 2006. The local government never returned the land to the customary landowner until today.
Second, the Raja Ampat government deprived the land by proposing the Land-use certificate to the National Land Agency (BPN) of Raja Ampat which issued in 2007 and 2008.
“The local government of Raja Ampat have done it secretly without any permission and consent from the customary landowner on the transfer of the customary tenure land. The government’s action is violating the Government’s Regulation No. 24 of 1997 on the Land Registration,” he explained.
Third, the Raja Ampat government has vowed to provide compensation on the land in the hearing on the Regional Budget Revision of Raja Ampat on 20 September 2018. The compensation has been budgeting in the revision 2018. However, the Government of Raja Ampat has never paid compensation to the customary landowner.
Therefore, the government has broken its promise or conduct a fraud towards the customary landowner.
Four, the customary landowner has taken some persuasive actions and demonstrated their goodwill by visiting the government’s office and asking the Raja Ampat Regent for a dialogue on this issue. However, the local government was not willing to show their goodwill such as not giving any confirmation or explanation on the reason why they did not pay any compensation over the land.
“Based on these mentioned facts, we urged the Government of Raja Ampat, in this case, represented by the Raja Ampat Regent, to respect the law and pay attention to the rights of the customary people whose land deprived arbitrarily by the local government. Secondly, the local government of Raja Ampat, in this case, represented by the regent, to immediately solve the dispute by installing the agreed payments to Hj. Salim’s family as approved in the Regional Budget Revision Meeting of Raja Ampat in 2018,” said Azhar.
Meanwhile, Musa, a member of Hj. Salim’s family said as the customary landowner, he hopes the local government of Raja Ampat shows its goodwill to solve this issue as possible as it could.
“In the mutual agreement, the government only borrowed our land. But now they (the local government) had claimed to have a certificate on the land which issued since 2007,” said Musa by phone in Sentani, Thursday (6/2/2020). (*)
Reporter: Engelbert Wally
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Raja Ampat’s government says to expel tourist ships for destroying coral reefs
Waisai, Jubi – The Government of Raja Ampat Regency would drive out tourist ships for not complying local shipping regulations. The Regional Secretary Yusuf Salim affirmed the government’s policy is to address the environmental effects caused by tourist boats that often hit and damage coral reefs.
“This policy is to protect the natural reserve of Raja Ampat. Many operating boats do not pay attention to the rules that destroy the coral reefs,” said Yusuf in a meeting with tourism administrators on Thursday (09/01/2020).
He emphasised that the local government would not tolerate those who cause environmental destruction. Their licence would immediately revoke and no longer allowed to operate in Raja Ampat.
“All tourist ships must obey the rule if they want to continue operating in Raja Ampat. Such particular cruise ships must report their arrival to the regional government and follow relevant local regulations,” said Yusuf in a meeting chaired by Regent Abdul Faris Umlati.
To prevent coral reefs from damage and destruction, managers of tourist ships required to involve certified local guides. If not, they are not allowed to enter and operate in Raja Ampat.
“It is for ensuring the convenience (and safety) during the tour. The coral reefs’ damages also can be avoided (prevented),” said the Head of Raja Ampat Tourism Office Yusdi Lamatenggo on the same occasion.
Further, Yusdi hopes that tourism operators and local people would report to the Tourism Office if they find any tourism services to not involving certified local guides. His office is ready for taking action on those who violate the rules.
Earlier, Lamima Surabaya, an Indonesian-flagged cruise ship, reportedly hit a coral reef surround Misool Island of Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua Province. Meanwhile, several Indonesian cruise ships carrying foreign tourists travelling in Misool Island also suspected of not paying tolls to the regional tourism office for entering local tourist destinations.
The Sub-district chief of Misool Selatan Samsul Rumasukun when contacted from Sorong on Tuesday (7/1/2020) confirmed that Lamima Surabaya was transporting foreign tourists before ran aground on the coral reefs surround Banos and Lenmakana waters in Misool Island on 3 January 2020. But the case was not widely known to the public.
He said the ship had continued its tour, but the incident already tackled by the Raja Ampat Police.
Meanwhile, Adrianus Kaiba, the Head of the Regional Public Service Agency for the Tourism Destination of Regional Tourism Office, separately said that every tourist visit Raja Ampat oblige to pay entrance fees in tourist destinations.
According to him, Lamima Surabaya cruise ship, which reportedly ran aground in the tourist destinations between the islands of Banos and Lemakana Misool, has so far not paid entrance fees to the regional tourism office.
At the end of December 2019, the Provincial Government of West Papua appealed for yachts entering its sea territories to involve local tour guides. This appeal issued following the incident of the cruise ship Aqua Blu landed on the coral reefs of Wayag Island.
The Head of Provincial Tourism and Culture Yusak Wabia in Manokwari on Monday (30/12/2019) stated the importance of using local guide services to avoid accidents such as crashing into coral reefs.
He said the local guides were more aware of the geographical condition of their territory, so it would prevent accidents. “Only local people know for certain the geographical conditions and the weather of their sea. They also maintain the coral reefs which are the source of their livelihood,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI) in Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua Province, Ranny Iriani Tumundo, regretted the incident of Aqua Blu cruise ship crashing on the coral reefs of Wayag Island.
She conveyed that according to the regulations, each cruise ship sailing around the sea of Raja Ampat oblige to notify the local government and meet the administrative requirement before visiting tourist destinations. Also, they require to pay retribution fee for entrance to the local government through the Office of Investment and Integrated Business Services.
“If a cruise ship has done it, then it is legal to travel in Raja Ampat. Also, the cruise ships must obey the shipping lane and involve local people as tour guides to avoid unexpected incidents happen, such as crashing into a coral reef,” she said. (*)
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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