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.
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)
MG was in Wamena when Istaka workers murdered, says MRP member
Jayapura, Jubi – Luis Madai, a member of Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP), said the person named for suspect in the murder of sixteen workers of PT Istaka Karya was not in Nduga at the time of the incident. Instead, Madai said, the suspect MG was in Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya Regency, Papua.
Madai declared his statement on Wednesday (22/1/2020). “During the incident [of murder], MG was in Wamena [with his family]” said Madai.
Therefore, he called the police to act fair and clever in investigating this case of ambush. Madai said the police investigation, in this case, seems to abuse the right of a person who does not have any knowledge about law and Indonesian by accusing him of the suspect.
“The police must see who is the real perpetrator. If they can see it clearly, they can find people who deserved to be arrested and brought to justice,” said Madai.
He then gave an example of Egianus Kogoya, the armed group leader from the West Papua National Liberation Army who had claimed be responsible for the murder. Madai also mentioned that the police should thoroughly examine the testimony given by Jhony Arung as the field supervisor of PT Istaka Karya.
“It is clear that Egianus Kogoya is the master of mind that the police should arrest. But they do not arrest him until now,” said Magai. Furthermore, he asked the police for tracing Arung’s current domicile. Johny Arung was one of the workers who were safe from the ambush.
The sixteen workers of PT Istaka Karya was killed in the ambush on 2 December 2018. The insurgent group from West Papua National Liberation Army under Egianus Kogoya claimed to be responsible towards this incident.
Meanwhile, the legal process against MG has become a controversial issue. MG was arrested by the military Task Force near the murder scene, Puncak Kabo, Yigi Sub-district, Nduga Regency and handed him to the local police of Jayawijaya.
The police admitted that MG is not a member of Kogoya’s group. On 15 August 2019, the Local Police of Jayawijaya held the reconstruction of Nduga ambush at the yard of Jayawijaya Police Headquarters. In the reconstruction, MG demonstrated 30 scenes of the shooting.
After the reconstruction, Jayawijaya Police Crime and Investigation Sub-unit Chief Alexander told Jubi that MG is not a member of Kogoya’s group but a partisan.
On 17 December 2019, Adjunct Police Commissionaire Suheriadi, Jayawijaya Crime and Investigation Unit, declared that MG has sent to Jakarta and would try in Jakarta. At that time he stated MG was named a suspect because he was at Puncak Kabo at the time of the ambush. “MG helped to determine whether the shot victims were already dead or not by stubbing their bodies,” he told Jubi on 17 December 2019.
The trial against MP that held in the Central Jakarta District Court has become a concern of many parties. On 17 January 2020, the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) sent a letter to the Head of the Central Jakarta District Court asking the panel of judges to consider the teeth examination towards the suspect to estimate the actual age of the suspect. KPAI sent the letter after receiving information that MG is still a child but conduct a trial in a public court.
Meanwhile, the Papuan People’s Representative has published their investigation in a book titled “Kekerasan tak Berujung di Nduga” which means the endless violence in Nduga. This report concludes that the murder of PT Istaka Karya workers did not occur spontaneously, but preceded by a series of events involving the insurgent group from West Papua National Liberation Army and the workers. In their report, the Papuan People’s Assembly reviews the role of Jhony Arung in the series of event that led to the murder of sixteen PT Istaka Karya workers. (*)
Reporter: Benny Mawel
Editor: Pipit Maizier
New Brimob headquarters faces land and personnel issues
Wamena, Jubi – Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters planned to build in Jayawijaya Regency, Papua Province face both land and personnel issues.
Senior Police Commissionaire Godhelp Mansnembra, the Unit Commander of Papua Police’s Brimob, said despite these two issues they still need coordination with the local police chief of Jayawijaya Regency.
“We are not planning to build a big headquarters, but at least it is enough for accommodating a company. So, perhaps we can set a post for a start. It also relates to personnel recruitment,” Mansnembra said in Wamena on Wednesday (22/1/2020).
The Papua Police has formed the Mobile Brigade Detachment D in Jayawijaya with 171 personnel, but they are planning to expand their personnel to 400.
“We have a Brimob detachment here. With more than 400 troopers, they would not only be assigned in Jayawijaya Regency, but also to other regions such as Merauke, Mappi and Wamena,” he said.
If the land is available, we will start to build the headquarters command for a company at least next year.
“Regarding other facilities, we already have vehicles, but considering the expensive fuel and maintenance cost in Wamena, we need to wait until the settlement of the land issue to bring those operational vehicles here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Regent of Jayawijaya Marthin Yogobi said from the meeting with Brimob Unit Commander there was no discussion concerning the construction of Brimob Headquarters. However, the regional government had facilitated the installation of some Brimob posts in several points to support peace and order in society.
“During the meeting with Brimob Unit Commander, there was no discussion about such plan of extra personnel deployment to Jayawijaya region,” he said.
Further, Yogobi said the commander’s visit to Jayawijaya was also to inspect his personnel’s promptness ahead of local councillor’s inauguration which planned taking place Wednesday (23/1/2020)
“The existing Brimob troop in Jayawijaya is sufficient to support security during the inauguration,” he said. (*)
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Papua Government will find solutions for exodus students
Jayapura, Jubi – The Provincial Government of Papua would attempt to address problems facing the exodus students who continue to stay in Jayapura City, Papua.
Papua Provincial Secretary Herry Dosinaen told hundreds of exodus students who wish to meet Papua Governor Lukas Enembe in a meeting facilitated by the Papuan People’s Assembly.
“The governor just called saying he now has a meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Education. They talk about the possibility listed exodus students for being able to resume their studies at their former educational institutions,” the provincial secretary told hundreds of exodus students on Wednesday (22/1/2020).
Meanwhile, Papuan House of Representatives’ Chairman Jhony Banua Rouw hopes the meeting between the provincial government, local parliament and the exodus students can accommodate both parties to a better solution.
“We are trying to find solutions for these students because it is not easy for them to return to their former cities of study and adapt to it. However, we can find a way to make them feel safe,” he said.
According to him, before the students return to their former cities of study, it is the government’s responsibility for ensuring that the students would be safe and secured. Therefore, there will be no more racism incidents to occur in the future.
“We must take immediate actions before the enrolment begins to avoid late enrolment that can affect their academic result and emotion in the cities of study,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Agus Pabika
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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