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West Papuans call for mass boycott of Indonesian elections

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Exiled West Papuan leader Benny Wenda on a visit to New Zealand’s Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology in 2013. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

By Tom Stayner of SBS News

A West Papuan independence leader and Nobel peace prize nominee is calling for a mass boycott of Indonesia’s upcoming elections to bring attention to their independence struggle.

Benny Wenda was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom 16 years ago – following an escape from custody while on trial in West Papua.

In exile, he has led the campaign for the self-determination that his countrymen say they have lacked since Indonesia gained internationally-recognised control of West Papua through a disputed referendum vote 50 years ago.

Wenda told SBS News from London, that he is calling for a mass boycott of Indonesia’s upcoming elections to again bring attention to a decades long independence struggle.

“This is a critical time for our people because the election for a colonial occupied force is not legitimate,” Wenda said.

“FROM NOW ON WE WILL NOT TAKE PART IN INDONESIAN ELECTIONS BECAUSE WE ARE NOT INDONESIAN.”

“We are Melanesian. We are the Pacific islanders… People are fed up – enough is enough,” he said.

Indonesian elections

On April 17 – more than 190 million registered Indonesian voters will go to the polls for presidential and general elections.

Favoured incumbent President Joko Widodo is being challenged by former military general Prabowo Subianto.

Subianto is also the son-in-law of long-time former President Suharto – who led Indonesia for three decades.

Southeast Asia analyst Damien Kingsbury said both candidates have adopted “nationalist” sentiments in their campaign so far.

“There are both populists that are operating on a populist agenda,” he said.

“Jokowi is trying to broaden his appeal out to the middle ground of Indonesian voters. Prabowo is appealing much more to a base.”

Professor Kingsbury said despite making up some recent ground, Subianto is well behind President Widodo in most polling.

“The polls have been showing that Jokowi is running at around the 50 percent mark in terms of popularity,” he said.

“Prabowo is running at around the 30 percent mark with a significant number of undecided voters.”

This is the second time the two rivals will face off after President Widodo defeated Subianto in elections five years ago.

According to the West Papua National Committee, hundreds of thousands of West Papuans boycotted those elections in 2014.

West Papuan militants back boycott

Indonesia’s control of West Papua has long been a flash-point for ongoing low level conflict between Indonesian forces and Indigenous Papuan militants.

Indonesia recently deployed 600 soldiers to protect the building of a major highway in West Papua, in response to the killings of 19 Indonesian road workers. The road project was a signature promise that President Joko Widodo made to the region.

In following clashes with militants, Indonesia’s military said three of its soldiers were killed along with up to 10 rebels.

But despite this escalation, Professor Kingsbury said West Papua had essentially been a “non-issue” in the election campaign.

“Both candidates believe that that Melanesian West Papuans should accept they are Indonesian,” he said.

“[They believe] the separatist movement [in West Papua] is essentially a criminal organisation.”

In a statement seen by SBS News, the West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB-OPM) declared its intention to support the push to boycott 2019 elections.

“The TPNPB-OPM never recognised the existence of the Colonial Government of the Republic of Indonesia in Papuans Customary Lands,” the statement reads. (asiapacificreport.nz)

 

Source: asiapacificreport.nz

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Headlines

Papuan activists dispute Indonesia’s poll numbers, claim boycott success

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Papuans called for a boycott of the Indonesian national elections in April … and demanded a self-determination referendum. Image: [email protected]

Papua, Jubi – It may be more than a month since Indonesians went to the polls, but the country is still being shaken by violence related to the election, including in the Papua region.

At least six people died in clashes in the capital Jakarta, during protests against the election outcome that saw President Joko Widodo declared the winner over Prabowo Subianto.

There are also reports in the Jakarta Post that post-election violence erupted in the troubled Papua region with investigations taking place into the deaths of four protesters allegedly killed by Indonesian soldiers.

It comes as President Widodo’s re-elected government has promised greater infrastructure development in Papua province.

But West Papuan activists pushing for independence from Indonesia have declared their election boycott was a success, saying that a majority of West Papuans did not vote.

Benny Wenda, the exiled leader of the United Liberation Movement, called for the peaceful boycott to show that West Papuans were not interested in electing Indonesia’s president.

After the preliminary count came in he claimed that 60 percent of West Papuans had not taken part in the election.

However, the official results from the electoral commission show that 88 per cent of West Papuans did vote.

ULMWP spokesman Ronny Kareni said that while West Papuan activists were glad that Joko Widodo remained in power, they did not think anything would change citing that Joko Widodo had not addressed any of the human rights cases in Papua that he said he would in his first term.

“The trust that has always been there, that gap is widening,” he said.

“The general feeling is that nothing will change, even though Jokowi is back serving for the second time.” (*)

 

Source: asiapacificreport.nz

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Environment

Activists protest the conservation award to Governor Mandacan

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West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan received the International Conservation awards from Conservation International-Jubi/IST

Manokwari, Jubi – The award of Global Conservation Hero to the West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan by Conservation International in Los Angeles to appreciate the efforts of Provincial Government of West Papua in protecting and implementing sustainable development has drawn a protest from local conservationist and environmental activists.

The activists argue that the government has not been eligible to receive the award because of no integrated database record the forest, ocean and indigenous resources to use as a barometer of the success of the conservation or sustainable development program in West Papua Province.

Although the ICBE Forum 2018 resulted in an agreement named “Manokwari Declaration” that has 14 commitments, in reality, it does not reach people on the ground.

Yohanis Akwan, the Coordinator of Pantau Gambut Papua in Manokwari, states the Global Conservation Award to Governor Dominggus Mandacan was so premature and allegedly full of interests. Since the declaration of West Papua Province as the conservation-based province by the former Governor Abraham Oktavianus Atururi in 2015, no real effort yet been realised by the provincial government to protect the natural resources of Papua Barat.

Further, Akwan suggests that the award should present to people living in remote or coastal areas who are faithful protecting the forest and the sea with their local wisdom and traditional values. Also, he said West Papua Province even does not have a peatland map that can be used to review relevant permits, while the peatland is an indicator of the conservation-based province. He also asses that there are more unfinished plan to be done by Papua Barat concerning to conservation-based province. That is a reality.

“Unfortunately, the United States, Conservation International is too quick to present this award to the governor, while the forest and natural resources in this province continue to be in hand of giant investors. This award should not present to the government official, but villagers who traditionally protect their natural resources from time to time,” Akwan told Jubi in Manokwari.

Moreover, he points out a problem recently faced by Manowakri residents, namely a seasonal food disaster during rain as a result of a forest clearing in Wosi-Rendani area for human settlement and mismanagement of spatial plan for housings.

“Last Monday, dozens of houses in Petrus Kafiar Village of Manokwari Timur District were flooded. People forced to evacuate, while the government acts to pay attention from the international community,” said Akwan.

The head of the Provincial Public Relations and Protocol of West Papua Yohanes Nauw on behalf of the Governor Dominggus Mandacan says in the press conference that the award presented in a gala dinner organised by Conservation International in Los Angeles, the United States on Saturday (8/6/2019).

The head of provincial parliament has reportedly joined the governor because the parliament contributed to authorise the special regulation on Sustainable Development that represents the principles of environmentally friendly development.

“Through the special regulation, West Papua has been named as ‘conservation-based province’ in which 70% of its forest area and ecosystem will be protected and managed sustainably. This regulation also called the Manokwari Declaration,” explained Nauw.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Provincial Research and Development Agency of West Papua Government as a specialised agency who launched the agenda, Prof. Charlie D Heatubun, said that Governor Dominggus Mandacan has involved promoting the adoption of the regulation on Sustainable Development.

“This award is also to appreciate the leadership and commitment of the governor in promoting the enactment of the special regulation and reviewing other policies such as the Provincial Spatial Plan, the Provincial Medium-Term Development Plan, protected areas expansion and the preparation of the Provincial Master Plan and the Roadmap of Green and Blue Economic Development,” he said.

Furthermore, Heatubun said the visit of Papua Barat officials to Los Angeles, the United States, was to respond to the official invitation of the President of Conservation International. The event also attended by some CEOs of large companies who interested in investing in Papua Barat such as Mars, Unilever, and the Governor of California and Los Angeles Mayor. (*)

Reporter: Hans Kapisa
Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Economy

CSOs decline logging company in Wondama

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Administrative map of Teluk Wondama Regency. – Jubi/manokwari.bpk.go.id

Jayapura, Jubi – Some Papua’s CSOs namely LP3BH Manokwari, YALI Papua, Yayasan Pusaka and Pemuda Suku Mairasi urge the Minister of Environment and Foresty to review the operation permit of a logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera (KTS) in Mairasi area.

The Mairasi tribal communities from Undurara, Wosimo and Inyora villages sent a statement letter stated on 12 May 2019 to oppose PT KTS to operate in Mairasi.

“People feel uneasy and disturbed due to the presence of the company and the military. It creates unsecured, disharmony and has no guarantee of providing economic benefit to the community,” Agust Veth from Pemuda Suku Mairasi told Jubi by phone on Sunday, 9 June 2019 in Jayapura.

According to Veth, people have not forgotten the incident of Bloody Wasior (2001) that allegedly triggered by logging activity from the timber company Darma Mukti Persana. Further, he said the human rights violation case in Wasior has not settled since then.

“Now, the military along with some public leaders represent the LMA (Customary Council) who facilitate the meeting on ‘Social Communication’ allegedly want to intimidate and force the local community to approve the logging company to operate in Mairasi. However, the local community continue to decline the company and refuse to attend the meeting.”

Mairasi people have objected the timber activity of KTS since 2012, while in 2013, a military culprit based in KTS logging area in Sorong allegedly tortured three residents from Sararti and Ambuni villages. The incident then reported to the local government, the People’s Assembly of Papua Barat and the Minister of Forestry. No action towards both perpetrator and the company has yet taken.

“Some reports revealed that PT KTS had some internal and financial issues. The company cannot pay the IUPHHK-HA (licence for utilization of timber in natural forest) and has a deficit (source: www.nasional.kontan.co.id, 2010; PT. Inti Multima Sertifikasi, 2015),” added Vest.

The logging company PT Kurniatama Sejahtera obtained the IUPHHK-HA from the Minister of Forestry (now the Minister of Environment and Forestry) Nomor SK.648/Menhut-II/2009 on 15 October 2009 to permit it to operate in a concession area of 115.800 hectares located in Teluk Wondama Regency. PT KSP is a subsidiary company of Artha Graha Group operating in Teluk Wondama Regency.

Concerning the permit, the civil society organisations ask the Minister of Environment and Forestry to evaluate the permit of PT KSP and give penalties for their negligence.

“We also ask the Military Commander of XVIII Kasuari to urge the Military District Command Sector Wasior and other local military authorities to stop using the military approach and intimidation towards the local community and backing up the interest of PT KTS.”

“They should prioritise respect, protection and fulfilment on human rights and environment, especially the basic rights of Mairasi Tribe. Most importantly, they must prevent the reoccurrence of the same conflict. Therefore, the law enforcement and legal protection of Mairasi Tribe are in need.”

However, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Military Command of Kasuari and PT KTS have not confirmed this information. On the other hand, Konstan Natama, the Acting Sub-district Chief of Naikere, Teluk Wondama Regency told Antara on 18 January 2018 that he was concerned about the massive logging activity by PT KTS clearing out the ironwood trees in Naikere.

Meanwhile, Franky Sanperante from Yayasan Pusaka said another subsidiary company of Artha Graha Network is PT Papua Satya Kencana with IUPHHK-HA license No SK.647/Menhut-II/2009. It has a concession area of 195.420 hectares located in Teluk Bintuni Regency.

“Combined, the total concession of the two companies is about 79% of the total area of Teluk Wondama Regency (3,960 Km2) or fivefold of the area of Jakarta,” said Frangky.

In the report published by Research and Development Centre of Department of Health of the Republic Indonesia “Merindukan Hidup Sehat Orama Etnik Mairasi Kabupaten Teluk Bintuni, 2014”, it mentioned that trees with a diameter of one meter such as ironwood and mahogany found in that area.

In Naikere, PT KTS has cleared out the trees since 1990 and stopped the operation at the time of Wasior incident (2001). Timber trucks carried one or two logs of wood with a diameter of one or two meters three or four times a day at that time. (*)

Reporter: Timoteus Marten
Editor: Pipit Maizier

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