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West Papuans urged to boycott Indonesian elections

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Benny Wenda, Wellington, 10 May 2017.Benny Wenda, Wellington, 10 May 2017. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Papua, Jubi – The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has urged all Papuans in Indonesia to boycott the upcoming national elections.

Indonesia, which has over 190 million eligible voters, goes to the polls on 17 April. It will be the first time the country’s president, vice president, and members of the legislature are elected on the same day.

The Liberation Movement’s chairman Benny Wenda has encouraged all West Papuans, and those sympathetic to the Papuan independence cause, to boycott the elections.

The UK-based Mr Wenda said Papuans don’t want a new Indonesian colonial ruler, but rather they want freedom.

“These elections are not for the Papuan people – they are for Indonesia. I’m calling on all of my people, whether rich or poor, civil servant or worker, military or civilian, from village or city, to peacefully boycott the Indonesian elections on April 17.

The upcoming presidential election sees the incumbent Joko Widodo being challenged by former military leader Prabowo Subianto, who lost to Mr Widodo in 2014.

In the previous poll, Mr Widodo won significantly more votes in Papua than Mr Prabowo.

Papua-based voters represent less than 2 percent of the republic’s total voters.

“We respect Indonesia’s right to hold elections in its own territory, but we will oppose the elections of the coloniser when they are forced upon us,” Mr Wenda said

“We have tried participating in the elections of the colonial master before – but we are still killed, tortured and discriminated against every day.”

Indonesia’s government says the incorporation of Papua into the republic is final, and that Papuans are participants in a democratic system.

However, while pushing the boycott, the Liberation Movement is encouraging people to rally on the 5th of April as a global day of action for West Papua.

This date marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Nieuw Guinea Raad (the West Papua National Parliament).

On April 5, 1961, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the international community formally recognised West Papua’s right to self-determination and eventual statehood.

A US-brokered agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia in 1962, without Papuan input, subsequently paved the way for an Indonesian takeover of the former Dutch New Guinea.

“I call on you all to prepare for an inevitable referendum on independence and intensify the struggle against the Indonesian occupation,” Mr Wenda said.

Last month, the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua, and the Papuan Student Alliance, both declared that they and their support base would boycott the elections.

According to the Papuan Student Alliance, neither presidential candidate had handled human rights violations in Papua well. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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West Papuans given jail time for rebellion

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Yakonias Womsiwor and Erichzon Mandobar. Photo: Facebook/ Veronica Koman

Papua, Jubi – Two West Papuans have been sentenced to more than a year in an Indonesian prison over a rebellion.

The jail terms come as several cases are being levelled against West Papuan activists and rebels in the restive region.

Yakonias Womsiwor and Erichzon Mandobar were detained in September when authorities raided the office of a Papuan independence group.

According to their lawyer, on Tuesday a judge in the Timika district court sentenced Mr Womsiwor to one year and six months jail.

His co-defendant got one year and three months in prison.

Both were sentenced under a criminal law for coercion and rebellion.

Lawyer Veronica Koman says she’s considering an appeal of the judgement.

During their arrests in Timika, the defendants were shot several times and denied medical attention until rights groups brought attention to their case.

Mr Womsiwor was shot six times in total, while Mr Mandobar was shot once, according to Amnesty International and Ms Koman.

“They were shot without warning as the law required,” Ms Koman said, adding that they were later allowed to be treated by their families.

Their arrests were part of a raid on the Timika secretariat of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), which was later seized by police.

Earlier in the trial, police and prosecutors had claimed the men were found with ammunition and guns, which the defendants denied was theirs, according to Ms Koman.

She said during the trial two police officers, including a deputy police chief, called as witnesses testified that military personnel had placed the ammunition and guns at the KNPB offices.

Ms Koman added that the sentencing on Monday did not give proper consideration to statements made by the defence.

The sentences come just days after a Polish tourist was jailed for five years for plotting to sell arms to West Papuan rebels. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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Indonesia loses Pacific asset in Franzalbert Joku

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Indonesian government consultant on West Papua-related issues, Franz Albert Joku. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Papua, Jubi – Indonesia has lost a significant asset from in its Pacific diplomacy efforts with the recent passing of the West Papuan, Franzalbert Joku.

The prominent Sentani landowner was the international spokesman for the Papua Presidium Council which galvanised momentum in the independence struggle at the turn of the century.

But in his last decade, Mr Joku strongly advocated autonomy for Papua within Indonesia rather than independence. He often represented Indonesia at regional meetings of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Mr Joku, who died at the age of 66 late last month in Jayapura, had fled from Indonesian rule in his homeland as a youth with his family in the early 1970s. For around three decades he lived in various parts of Papua New Guinea where Mr Joku worked as a journalist and a PNG government advisor who developed extensive links in the Pacific.

An expert in Indonesian history and politics, Richard Chauvel of the University of Melbourne, says Mr Joku’s career in PNG was significant.

“His great utility both in the early 2000s (for the Papua Presidium) and post 2007/8 for the Indonesian government has been his intimate knowledge of Papua New Guinea politics, through his role as a journalist and then as a political advisor or spokesman for (former PNG PM) Julius Chan and other senior PNG politicians,” Dr Chauvel said.

“I think it’s that knowledge of local PNG politics, and through networks into the Pacific, that made him such a formidable figure, both initially for the Presidium, in the lobbying of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum, and then subsequently for doing much the same thing, utilising the same skills and knowledge for the Indonesian government,” he explained.

As an effective envoy for Jakarta, Mr Joku had a forthright approach to his diplomacy, as evidenced last year by his instrumental role in pressing the Solomon Islands government to mollify its support for West Papuan self-determination aspirations:

Occupying both extremes of the Papuan political spectrum over time made Franzalbert Joku a polarising figure in the eyes of West Papuans.

“The way he executed those positions was remarkably the same – with great commitment, very articulate, he was obviously a bright guy… you could never accuse him of being nuanced,” Dr Chauvel said.

Dr Chauvel first met Franzalbert Joku when he was lobbying for the Presidium, the organisation which energised the independence struggle as democatic space opened up briefly in post-Suharto Indonesia around the time of the Papua People’s Congress in 2000 in Jayapura.

“He was just as vigorous and forthright in his advocacy of that position as he later became from 2007/8 onwards when he’d clearly joined the other side,” he said.

Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has a number of officials who have led delegations to MSG and Pacific Forum meetings over the past decade.

“They have acquired some of that background knowledge, but I don’t think that they can speak to their counterparts in Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and PNG from the same position as Franzalbert could, as a Pacific Islander,” Dr Chauvel said. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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Polish man charged over links to Papua arms deal to appear in court

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Jakub Skrzypski, a 39-year Polish citizen visiting Papua as a tourist, was arrested in Wamena in late August on suspicion of being a journalist. Photo: Facebook

Papua, Jubi – The trial of a Polish man charged with treason for allegedly supplying arms to Papuan rebel fighters continues today.

Indonesian prosecutors have demanded 10 years’ jail for Jakub Skrzypski, who was arrested in August last year.

According to his lawyer Jakub Skyrzypski was a tourist who wanted to see the culture, customs and history of Papua.

Instead, he was detained and charged on suspicion of arranging an arms deal with the West Papua Liberation Army, a rebel group which is waging war on state forces.

Mr Skrzypski’s lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar told the Wamena city court on Wednesday he hasn’t committed a crime by meeting with the armed group, according to a copy of her plea.

The public prosecutor, who has called on ten witnesses in the trial, will respond in court on Thursday.

Judges will deliver a verdict after final responses from both sides on Monday.

Mr Skrzypski is being charged alongside his co-defendant, West Papuan student Simon Carlos Magal, who was arrested in September. (*)

 

Source: RNZI

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