Tag Archives: act of free choice

Women And The Fight For Peace And Freedom In West Papua

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Published in Partnership between West Papua Media and AWID

Source: AWID

August 9, 2013

Women and the Fight for Peace and Freedom in West Papua

FRIDAY FILE: After 42 years of Indonesian rule, women in West Papua continue to fight for their freedom and peace.

By Rochelle Jones

West Papua – officially under Indonesian rule since 1963 – is located in the Western half of the island of New Guinea – 250km north of Australia. In 2012, West Papua Media conducted interviews with four West Papuan women who are active in the nonviolent movement for freedom. Here, AWID gives some background, and excerpts from the interviews. 

Act of No Choice

The Australian-based Free West Papua describes how during the 1950s, West Papua was under Dutch Colonial rule, but by 1961 were moving towards independence with their own flag, the ‘Morning Star’, and Papuan government officials. In the early sixties, however, “Conflict erupted over West Papua between The Netherlands and Indonesia, and a United Nations agreement gave control of the colony to Indonesia for six years. This was to be followed by a referendum. These six years of Indonesian control saw well-documented cases of violence and abuse by the military. Then in 1969, Indonesia conducted a sham referendum called the Act of Free Choice. Only 1025 Papuans, representing a population of one million, were picked to vote. Under severe duress, including threats from senior ranking military officials to cut their tongues out, they voted to remain part of Indonesia. Despite a critical report by a UN official who was present, citing serious violations, the UN shamefully sanctioned the vote and West Papua officially became a part of Indonesia. Papuans call this referendum the ‘Act of No Choice’”

With a track record of denying foreign journalists access to West Papua (or arresting and deporting them) – the Indonesian government continues its stronghold over this resource-rich region. A stronghold held together largely by the presence of the Indonesian military¾which are known for their violence enacted with impunity, but also by the silence of the international community. Free West Papua estimates that “since 1962, 100,000 people have been killed or disappeared by the brutal military regime. Thousands have been raped and tortured and entire villages, especially in the highlands, have been destroyed.” In May this year, West Papua Media published one disturbing report of recent killings and rapes, perpetrated by the Indonesian military.

Tragically, reports such as these are part of every-day life for West Papuans, who are of Melanesian descent and culturally different from Indonesians. Resistance to Indonesia’s occupation has existed from the beginning – but the military has repeatedly responded with violence and intimidation. Whilst more information is getting out about West Papua and international concern grows over the human rights situation, this can be marred by politics and economics, with governments hesitant to upset Indonesia.  In recent years a new independence organisation, the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) has held “huge independence rallies… across West Papua and the West Papuan’s voice is united more than ever.”

Women in the struggle

Asked why they joined the nonviolent movement, Fanny Kogoya, Rini Tabuni, Heni Lani and Ice Murib (1), the women interviewed by West Papua Media, each recount experiences of injustice, disrespect and the violence of growing up in a land without freedom. Murib highlights the simplicity of their struggle: “We want to be free. We want you to help us be free. Indonesia doesn’t care about us as people. So the only thing that we want is to be free…to live our own life in our own land.”

Kogoya says: “As a child I often saw people beaten-up by the police, without any reason at all… As a student I started to compare government policies with what was actually happening… On the one hand you had the constitution, which talked about freedom and the Pancasila, which talked about social justice, but in reality there was very little political space for us Papuans. When I was living in Java I could compare the health and education system with what we had in West Papua and it was just so different…There is very little political difference for Papuans before or after [the regime of] Suharto… Papua has yet to experience a real democratic space. These kinds of things make me really emotional. I realized I had to resist. I can’t be silent.”

Tabuni recalls: “my father was one of the victims of 1977. Indonesian soldiers cut open his chest with knives. They took out the contents of his stomach and they removed his heart. My grandfather saw this happening with his own eyes. As the soldiers were cutting open my father’s chest they were saying, “Where is your God now? Who is here to save you?” Tabuni explains how freedom activist Benny Wenda, now living in exile in the UK, inspired her after her family lived in Jayapura with Wenda’s people: “In 2000 Benny started to become more active… [and was granted] refugee status in England. We watched… how he continued to struggle. That inspired those of us who lived inside Papua to continue to struggle… It was in this context that the KNPB entered. My friends and I said let’s stay with this organization, let’s sit down with them and see what we can do together.”

After witnessing countless events as a young girl, like the arrest of her father, Lani recounts her political awakening as a student when she was told about the history of West Papua’s struggle: “Before [this] it was like I was sitting in this small dark room with little rays of light coming through. These rays of light were like my father getting arrested and Benny Wenda getting arrested. When I got my education it was like the door of this room was flung open… I went outside for the first time and saw what was really happening. The day on the beach in Hamadi was the first time I saw the Morning Star flag. I grabbed it and held it. Finally, I realized, I’m not an Indonesian, I’m a Papuan!”

However, there is a struggle within the movement. Kogoya describes it as a “double challenge” that women face: “We struggle against Indonesia but we also struggle against patriarchy in the movement. See we have two enemies: the way women are treated within the movement and the evil and injustice of the state. We are definitely fighting against some of the men within the movement who think we aren’t capable.” To that, however, Lani says “Women are in leadership positions and telling men what to do, so we’re already there… playing positions of leadership in the movement.”

Ongoing nonviolent resistance

Living with such violence and oppression, the women still agree that nonviolent resistance is the way forward, and yet they also admit to thinking about taking up arms. One of the obvious barriers to taking up an armed struggle is the sheer strength of the Indonesian military. Kogoya says “Even though we’re struggling nonviolently the Indonesian state continues to respond violently. They arrest people, beat people, kill people. Often my activist friends say, “What’s the point? If we struggle nonviolently they’re going to beat us, arrest us … if we struggle violently they’ll do the same things. Often people join the armed struggle because… they’ve had these traumatic experiences and… it’s an emotional reaction. Of course in our culture we also have a history of fighting back… of tribal warfare. We are a courageous people. So with these three things – our memories of suffering, our history and culture, and our courage – armed struggle is a real option for us….But Papuans are also a very practical people. We know civil resistance can also work. So my dream is to learn more about civil resistance.”

Tabuni understands why people would want to respond with violence, however, she says: “If I struggle through violence I am going to experience a number of problems. I’m going to lose a lot of my rights. I’m going to lose my best friends. And people are going to… steal my land and kill me… But now I see that there’s an opportunity to resist through nonviolent struggle. People at the grassroots need to know that nonviolent action can be really successful… We can learn from the examples of other countries.”

How can the international community help?

To be an independent nation is the goal for West Papua¾freedom from Indonesian rule and its associated violence. But this is also a struggle for culture and for the environment. Lani says since she joined the struggle “my friends have been arrested, some have died in jail, some have fled to Papua New Guinea. It’s like we are migrants in our own land. So many people from Java, from Sulawesi, from Sumatra have come to our land.” Large scale migration of Indonesians into West Papua has the potential to unthread the very fabric of their culture and existence – and the mining and deforestation of pristine forests threatens to destroy the environment as well.

To achieve freedom these women stress the need for as many people as possible to stand in solidarity. Kogoya says they need the support of environmental groups around the world to join the struggle, adding “We need institutional support. And we want people to campaign about Papua to stop the violence… We really need technical assistance with media. We also need to influence other countries, particularly the U.S.”. Lani’s message is “for all the Papuan people to be involved in the civil resistance struggle. We have to work together.” She adds “Tell your friends in Australia and the U.S., ‘Stop sending military weapons to Indonesia. Stop.’ Because whenever we do things we face the military with those arms, and those arms are sent by your countries. The military are being trained by your countries to kill us.”

Read the full interviews here: “We Want To Be Free”: An Interview With Four Women From The West Papuan Movement For Freedom

For more information:

Visit West Papua’s Independent Human Rights Media: http://westpapuamedia.info/

Read the Enough is Enough report (testimonies of women from West Papua) from the International Center for Transitional Justice.

Read the latest HR report from the International Coalition for Papua

 

NOTES:

1) “We want to be free”: An interview with four women from the West Papuan Movement for Freedom. Interview by Alex Rayfield and Claudia King from West Papua Media. Photos taken by Javiera Rose.

Article License: Creative Commons – Article License Holder: AWID

 

Selpius Bobii: Clarification of the Standpoint of Papuan Freedom Political Prisoners

Opinion

by Selpius Bobii

June 28, 2013

The Papuan Freedom Political Prisoners in the Abepura State Prison of West Papua have received reports that certain printed and electronic news media reports from both within the Papuan nation and overseas have deviated from our statement on 23 May 2013 in rejection of the Indonesian President’s offer of clemency as published in the Cenderawasih Post on 23 May 2013. That statement was in response to the announcement by the Deputy Chairperson of DPRP Yunus Wonda that President SBY had made a commitment at the time he met with a contingent from Papua led by the Papuan Provincial Governor Lukas Enembe together with the Minister for Internal Affairs on 29 April 2013, to give all the Papuan Political Prisoners clemency at the time of the President’s upcoming visit to Papua in August 2013.

We the 26 political prisoners referred to, are most concerned to clarify that digression so that the public can understand the truth of our statement. Basically in that statement we announced our standpoint:

1)     That we reject the Indonesian President’s offer of clemency; and

2)      That we do not need to be released from prison but rather we need and demand the release of the nation of Papua from the colonial domination of the colonial state of the Republic of Indonesia.

Whilst this first point is self explanatory, the second needs further comment as to our reasons.  Firstly, WE HAVE DONE NO WRONG!  Accordingly we have never and will never make a plea for forgiveness in the form of clemency from the Head of the colonial Republic of Indonesia.  We have also never asked our families or legal counsel to make such a plea for clemency to the Indonesian President.  In fact we would firmly reject any such plea made by any party on our behalf.  As to put forward a plea for clemency would be to acknowledge we were wrong, to indicate we regretted our wrong and to acknowledge Papua as being a part of the Republic of Indonesia thereby asking the President’s forgiveness.  But who is it that is in the wrong such that SBY should give his forgiveness?

We the Freedom Political Prisoners have committed no wrong and we are not in need of forgiveness from the Head of State of the colonial Republic of Indonesia (RI)! In fact exactly the opposite. We demand that RI apologizes to the nation of Papua for the annexation of the nation of Papua into RI. An act which has given rise to discrimination, marginalisation and making us a minority in our ancestors’ land; to the degree that we are now heading for ethnic annihilation. Secondly we demand that RI acknowledges the sovereign independence of the nation of Papua.

Papuan Political Prisoners are also not in the wrong due to the following:

a)     The right to self-determination is the right of all nations in the same manner as is stated in the General Declaration of the United Nations (UN) and various international covenants including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and similarly even in the opening paragraph of the 1945 Indonesian Constitution.

b)    The Nation of Papua has the same right to full sovereignty and accordingly on 19 October 1961 in the first National Papuan Congress, the Papuan National Committee declared the ‘ Political Manifest of Independence of the Nation of Papua’ as the basis for receiving the status of full sovereignty.  Since then the 1 December has been celebrated in Jayapura and throughout all major towns in the land of Papua.

c)     In spite of the above the nation of Papua was annexed into RI with the ‘Three Community Commands’ (TRIKORA) by the then President Sukarno on 19 December 1961 which was followed up with a political and military invasion in 1962.

d)    The political invasion was realized through the unilateral agreement known as the ‘New York Agreement’ on 15 August 1962 between the Dutch and Indonesia as mediated by UN and drafted by USA, without any involvement of indigenous Papuans.

e)     The ‘Act of Free Choice’ was not implemented in accordance with the requirements of international law as provided for in the New York Agreement and in effect became implemented by Indonesia as the ‘Act of No Choice’ (or in other words the ‘Forced Community Opinion’). The so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ was flawed both legally and morally.

f)     The nation of Papua was at no time involved in the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia and neither did the nation of Papua ever freely agree to become a part of that Republic.

g)    Accordingly the occupation by RI of the land of Papua is illegal and immoral.

h)     Both the geographical location and culture of Papua are vastly different to that of the Malay race. The nation of Papua is of the Melanesian grouping of the Negroid Race.

We are being detained and imprisoned for the sake of the struggle to have the independence of Papua restored. The release of Papuan Political Prisoners from prison will never bring an end to the problems in Papua. It will never bring an end to the problem of the political history of Papua that has led to the consequences of discrimination, marginalisation, humanitarian evils, the creation of a minority in our ancestor’s lands and genocide against the ethnic Papuan race.

Even if we were to be released unconditionally we would once again return to be active in the struggle, we would once again raise the Papuan flag and RI through its armed forces would once again arrest and imprison us. So there is no point in releasing us. Rather release the nation of Papua from the colonial domination of the Republic of Indonesia.

For further details of the reasons for the rejection of the offer of President SBY’s offer of clemency see;
(www.majalahselangkah.com/content/mengapa-tapol-papua-tolak-grasi-#/2008) in Indonesian or for the English version (www.justiceinpapua.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-papuan-independence-political_118.html?m=1&zx=564946ed40cf2447).

To all media personnel whether from the printed media or electronic media, to the general community, those in the human rights area and all those who stand in solidarity with us whether inside Papua or overseas, we appeal to you to please publish this clarification so that the public can receive information that is accurate and reliable. For further information  readers are referred to:
(www.majalahselangkah.com/content/tapol-papua-tolak-rencana-grasi-minta-bebaskan-papua#).

For your anticipated help to spread this information widely and to include this clarification in both printed and electronic media we express our most sincere appreciation.

Abepura State Prison, 23 June 2013.

(As clarified by Selpius Bobii, one of the Papuan Freedom Political Prisoners)

 

Selpius Bobii: “Stop violence in Paniai, proceed with heart to heart communication”

(Apologies for the delay in posting due to significant funding shortfall and time over-commitments from WPM team)

Analysis/ Opinion

27 March, 2013

 by Selpius Bobii, Abepura Prison

The ongoing conflict in Papua is deliberately generated and professionally driven by Indonesian government through its defence system, purposely to defend the sovereignty of Indonesia over Papua.  Beside political conflicts, economic factors play a certain role in initiating conflicts in Papua. As a result, both Papuan and non-Papuan civilians suffer the consequences, but mostly indigenous Papuans suffer the worst outcome of these conflicts.

One of the regions in Papua that draws major attention of the Indonesian military is Paniai.  The conflicts there that are deliberately initiated by the Defence force of the Republic of Indonesia in confronting the OPM troops led by John Yogi has left the people of Paniai in great devastation.

These ongoing conflicts have left the civilians in a frightening and intimidating situation because Indonesian Police and Indonesian National Army have been doing mass military mobilisation and convoys, committing sexual harassment and assaults on woman and girls, carrying out unlawful arrests, torturing innocent civilians, and raids from house to house, confiscating hunting tools like bows and arrows, axes, and knives.  The local people had to move to the neighboring villages searching for refuge, food and health. Some of them got sick and died, some were shot dead by the Indonesian military.

Violence, intimidation and unlawful detentions by Police  Army are escalating in Paniai in the last few weeks, especially to combat the (local) OPM movement led by John Yogi.

Marko Okto Pekei, SS (Activist from Timika Catholic Parish) reported that the tense situation in Paniai has been going for a long period of time following the forceful disbanding (by Indonesian security forces) of the OPM HQ in Eduda in October 2012. After the incident, Indonesian Security Forces deployed massive number of Indonesian Military personnel in Paniai.

On the afternoon of February 24th 2013 the people of Paniai witnessed the deployment of Indonesia Military into Paniai, 53 trucks dropped them.  During the deployment, a source that did not wish to be named mentioned that an Indonesia police officer (told him)  that, in February 2013 alone, the government ( especially the Defence Ministry) of Indonesia has deployed more than one thousand military personnel from Kelapa Dua Jakarta to Paniai.  As a result, people in Paniai, especially fathers and young men, feel intimidated everywhere they go.  They could not go out for gardening because of the fear that they would be suspected as members of OPM.

During that tensed situation, Marko Pekei also reported that there has been raids carried out in the middle of the night in the villages, unlawful arrest, torture, and forceful kidnapping, abduction and killing of innocent civilians in Paniai.

The latest cases for example are, Stefanus Yeimo who was shot dead by Indonesian Police (Brigade Mobile) at 15:30 (west Papuan time) in Kopo Paniai. He was shot when he and his friend were at a local store buying cigarette. According to the Indonesian Police (POLRI) the reason behind the shooting is, he was suspected to be member of OPM.

At 18:00 on the same day, Stefanus was buried by his family in Kopo village, Paniai.

Meanwhile, according to report from an Activist from Justice and Peace Division of Timika Catholic Parish, there is another victim from the Moni Clan; Indonesian National Army Special Team 753 in Uwibutu tortured him on Saturday March 23rd 2013 at 21:30 local time.

After the victim was arrested he was beaten, kicked and was dragged along the asphalt road. At that time few by passers witnessed that violent and unjust treatment. The victim was even dragged into the police checkroom and brutally tortured until the next day and he was rushed to the hospital for medication.

According to the relative of the victim who did not wish to be named, the victim was intoxicated but was not violent when he went to visit a family friend at the hospital. He left the hospital at 21:30 local time. That was when the Indonesian Army Special team 753 from Paniai unlawfully arrested him took him to their base and beat him up, tortured him and they took him the hospital.

In response to the escalating and ongoing violence in Paniai, We the Front PEPERA (Act Of Free Choice) would like to take this opportunity to demand:

1). Indonesian Army (TNI) and Indonesian Police (POLRI) to stop excessive terror, torture, kidnapping and unlawful arrests and shootings in Paniai.

2). Cenderawasih Regional Military Commander XVII and Provincial Police Commander to stop deploying military personnel in Paniai and as soon as possible withdraw the additional personnel that was deployed from Jakarta.

3). The military personnel who violates human rights in Paniai be brought to justice.

4) Cenderawasih Regional Military Commander XVII and Provincial Police Commander as soon as possible sack the Indonesian Army (TNI) and Indonesian Police (POLRI) personnel who are responsible for the ongoing violence in Paniai.

5). People, Government and Church to work together hand in hand, establishing communications from heart to heart in order to curtail the violence and human right abuses that has been going on in Paniai for a very long time.

6). Journalists to truthfully and honestly expose the real situation that has been happening in Paniai

7) Violence will never solve the conflicts in Papua, therefore We the PEPERA (Act Of Free Choice) Front would like to take this opportunity to demand the United Nation or a neutral third-party to immediately act unconditionally and according to the international law to end the political and social injustice in Papua.

This statement serves as guide and to be carried out by the concerning parties who thinks Papuans deserves justice, peace and security in Papua and especially in Paniai.

Selpius Bobii, Abepura Prison: Wednesday, 27th March 2013.

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front Pepera (The United Front of the Struggle of the People of Papua)  and is currently one of the “Jayapura Five”, Political Prisoners held in Abepura Prison, Jayapura, West Papua.  The five (Bobii, Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Dominikus Sorabut and Agus Kraar) were found guilty in an opaque and predetermined trial of  Treason (Makar) charges, laid after the violent Indonesian security force crackdown on the Third Papuan People’s Congress  in October 2011.

 

Growing international solidarity for West Papua freedom campaigns

by Herman Wainggai*

January 21, 2013

Opinion

It is likely that most US citizens who consider themselves informed about global events are aware of the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia and East Timor, yet it’s likely that few people in the US are aware of the ongoing genocide in West Papua, New Guinea.

In Rwanda, genocide resulted in an estimated 500,000 deaths in a 3-month period; in Bosnia, genocide resulted in an estimated 200,000 deaths in a 3-year period. In East Timor, there were more than 103,000 deaths in a 3-year period; and, in West Papua, New Guinea, there are conservative estimates of 100,000 Melanesian Papuans killed, and 300,000 displaced or missing over a 47-year period. Remarkable is the disparity of time between the Rwanda, Bosnia and East Timor genocides, ranging from 3 months to 3 years, contrasted with the ongoing 50-year genocide of indigenous West Papuans. In the aftermath of the Rwandan 3-month slaughter of 500,000 people, the carnage was blatant, the atrocities flagrant.

In view of the continuing carnage wrought in West Papua by the Indonesian military during the past 50 years, we must wonder why most people in the Western world are oblivious to the indigenous Melanesians’ plight, and what factors are contributing to the protraction of such abuse.

Indonesia’s colonization and military occupation of Dutch-owned West Papua was achieved, and continues, with the blessing of the governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, and facilitated by the operation of the world’s largest copper and gold mine owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., a US corporation.

In addition, for more than 50 years, some of the world’s largest transnational mining corporations have been exploiting West Papua’s oil and minerals, including Union Oil, Amoco, Agip, Conoco, Phillips, Esso, Texaco, Mobil, Shell, Petromer Trend Exploration, Atlantic Richfield, Sun Oil and Freeport (USA); Oppenheimer (South Africa); Total SA (France); Ingold (Canada); Marathon Oil, Bird’s Head Peninsula (UK); Dominion Mining, Aneka Tambang, BHP, Cudgen RZ, and most critically, Rio Tinto (formerly RTZ-CRA) (Australia/UK).

The exploitation of natural resources by extractive industries results in catastrophic harms to human and environmental health and indigenous societies. Typically, mainstream global media, most of which are in thrall to corporate interests, look the other way when such military/corporate injustices are perpetrated upon indigenous populations.

New Guinea is the second largest island on earth, and one of 20,000-30,000 archipelagos in the South Pacific. The island is divided vertically, with independent Papua New Guinea occupying the eastern section and West Papua, now an unwilling province of Indonesia, occupying the western side. There are more than 250 tribes, more than 270 distinct languages and thousands of different pidgin dialects.

In addition to copper and gold, abundant natural resources include natural gas, oil, timber and fish. These resources profit corporate interests and the Indonesian government without compensation to the Melanesian population, who live in poverty.

In 1969, the Act of Free Choice consultation was held in West Papua to ascertain whether the indigenous Melanesian population preferred to remain a province within the nascent nation of Indonesia or become their own independent nation. The consultation was fraudulent, and free participation by the indigenous people was nil. Only 1025 West Papuans, representing a population of one million, were picked ( by the government of Indonesia )  to vote and it was not implemented in accordance  with international law of the New York Agreement on August 15, 1962 – One Man One Vote. It was a whitewash. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that a million people had their fundamental rights trampled ( CV Narasimhan, Deputy Secretary – General of the United Nations 1961 – 1978 ). Thus, the voiceless West Papuans became a province of Indonesia and the victims of 50 years of oppression.

The people of this forgotten land have struggled for freedom for 50 years under brutal Indonesian occupation. The people of the different tribes are raped, tortured and slaughtered, and their natural environment continues to be degraded. In their efforts to resist this injustice, their leaders have been arrested, tortured and threatened with death. For this reason, many now live in exile, where they continue to be involved in education and activism with the goal of enlisting the international community to join their efforts to achieve justice and freedom.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the rights of all people to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to peaceful assembly and association. Indonesia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and Indonesia’s constitution also declares those rights. However, Indonesia’s continued arrest and incarceration of nonviolent political activists since the 1980s, and the October 19, 2011 arrests of more than 300 civilians during the Third National Congress, including Edison Waromi and Forkorus Yaboisembut, Prime Minister and President, respectively, will not deter Melanesians from their nonviolent struggle to secure self-determination within a democratic framework, and are recognized, respected and supported by the international community.

For this reason, many peaceful demonstrations took place around the world on

The boat that brought 43 West Papuan Asylum seekers to Australia, putting Papua back on the front page and touching off a diplomatic storm . Photo Damien Baker, Mapoon, Queensland, Australia January 17th, 2006
The boat that brought 43 West Papuan Asylum seekers to Australia, putting Papua back on the front page and touching off a diplomatic storm . Photo Damien Baker, Mapoon, Queensland, Australia January 17th, 2006

January 17, 2013. The Demonstrations commemorated the escape to freedom by 43 West Papuan refugees on January 17, 2006, when, after paddling across open ocean for four days and surviving a violent storm, they beached their traditional canoe in Australia and found asylum. Myself – Herman Wainggai  – am one of those 43.

The Free West Papua Political Prisoners Team in Washington DC is a group of academics and human-rights activists who are willing to stand up for justice and work toward a free West Papua that is independent from military and corporate colonization.

Photo :  Free West Papua Political Prisoners Campaign Team, Washington DC, USA
Photo : Free West Papua Political Prisoners Campaign Team, Washington DC, USA

Human Rights Watch reports that Indonesia has incarcerated nearly 100 activists from Maluku and Papua for peacefully voicing their patriotism and political views.  As one of those former political prisoners forced into exile, I am now a visiting scholar at George Mason University, after being imprisoned for more than two years after daring to raise the West Papuan flag. My uncle, Dr. Thom Wainggai, died while imprisoned for the same demonstration of patriotism.

Free West Papua Campaign in Los Angeles, California

“I want to commend Moana Nui for organizing this demonstration on behalf of the people of West Papua to give voice to their fight for freedom and self-determination.  We call on the leaders of all governments to stop supporting human rights abuses, murder, genocide and the military occupation of West Papua. To our brothers and sisters in West Papua: Continue to fight for what you know is right, for your freedom, your culture, for humanity.  Know that, in this fight, you are not alone.” Harold Green.  http://mnaa-ca.org/jan-17-2013-west-papua-action/

 

Free West Papua Campaign in Melbourne

Foreign Affairs Minister of the Federated Republic of West Papua, Jacob Rumbiak, said international activists are demanding that Indonesia remove its military personnel, and that president Yudhoyono must issue orders to stop the slaughter of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) members.

“Six activists were arrested and tortured in Serui yesterday for handing out pamphlets about today’s rally, including Patris Rosumbre (Vice Governor, Saireri State, Federated Republic of West Papua) and Menase Karubaba,” he said. Rosumbre has since escaped, but the whereabouts of Karubaba are not known, and there is deep concern for his safety.

Photo Free West Papua Campaign Melbourne, Australia January 17th, 2013
Photo Free West Papua Campaign Melbourne, Australia January 17th, 2013

The Federated Republic of West Papua has called for negotiations with the Indonesian government under the auspices of the United Nations since 2011, and, Rumbiak claims, “Indonesia is losing credibility with its international donors in failing to respond to our invitation.”

Free West Papua Campaign in the Solomon Islands

In a statement from Honiara, Chairman of Solomon Islands for West Papua, Rexy Roses, highlighted that more than 50 years of tyranny and

Photo Rexy Roses, Solomon Islands for West Papua, 17th January 2013
Photo Rexy Roses, Solomon Islands for West Papua, 17th January 2013

immeasurable human rights abuses suffered by the indigenous people of West Papua at the hands of the occupying Indonesian military forces is more than too much to bear, and it is now time for dialogue and negotiations to end the violence in West Papua and to allow a peaceful referendum. This year will be a challenging one, and we will ensure that the cries of the indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua be heard in every corner of the Pacific and beyond.

Since the recent peaceful demonstration in Yapen Island and Manokwari, I have been told that the military agents are increasing their violent activity in West Papua and in many other places around West Papua. It is not difficult to imagine the impact that tens of thousands of Indonesian troops have on the daily lives of the West Papuan people. This new action by the Indonesian military raises the question: Why would Indonesia send so many troops to West Papua? Is this to intimidate the West Papuan people, to deny us our freedom of speech and prevent us from peacefully gathering in the land of our ancestors to debate and challenge the domination of our land and freedom? This recent West Papua Media report clearly states that the Indonesian government does not provide for the protection of human rights in West Papua.

For West Papuans, daily life is a nightmare, full of pain, suffering, torture, rape and bloodshed. There is no freedom to speak or act freely. The systematic oppression, terror, intimidation, kidnapping, incarceration, poisoning and murder of indigenous Melanesians in West Papua has not changed since I fled the country in 2006. It’s time to support the West Papuan people in their struggle for human rights and political independence.

Herman Wainggai is a West Papuan civil resistance activist based in Washington DC USA, and former political prisoner.  He lectures in strategic non-violence and civil resistance and is a visiting scholar at George Mason University, Washington.

 

 

ELSHAM finds evidence of 749 acts of violence in Papua

 

JUBI
15 August 2012
Jayapura: ELSHAM, – the Institute for the Study and Advocacy of Human Rights in Papua – found evidence of 749 acts of violence that befell the people living in Papua. Most of these acts of violence occurred during arbitrary arrests and detentions.This is reported in the recently launched book, Masa Lalu dan Tak Lalu – The Past and Never Past – which was published by ELSHAM and the International Centre for Transitional Justice.

During its investigations, the researchers examined 108 testimonies about human rights violations . They spoke to 76 people in Biak, 12 people in Manokwari, ten people in Paniai and ten people in Sorong. The period covered was from the mid 1960s (prior to the Act of Free Choice in 1969) up to the period of ‘reformasi’ (following the downfall of Suharto).

Their researchers spent three months out in the field, studying testimonies and obtained information about 749 cases.

Of the 749 cases, 312 were violations against males and 56 violations against women. The details were obtained from101 victims who were  interviewed. One hundred and one victims  had suffered violations together with a group of people or with more than one person. The types of violence were arbitrary arrests and detentions, 234 cases,  military operations against the civilian population including operations to forcibly evict people 181 cases, and torture and ill-treatment, 97 cases.

There were also 86 cases of deaths as the result of extreme torture,  threats 53 cases, assaults 28 cases, the seizure or destruction of  people’s belongings, gardens or livestock  22 cases, orders to report 26 cases, attacks and searches of people’s homes 4 cases, lack of access to food or medication 4 cases, forcible removals, preventing people from finding work 4 cases, forcible removals 3 cases, lack of access to food or medications, denial of access to families 2 cases, trials without lawyers,  2 cases, preventing people from travelling  2 cases. Finally, there was prevention of access to education. A total in all of 749 cases.

Other points included in the report  were that during the first period, from 1960 till 1969, several witnesses spoke of this period being marked by armed clashes  between the Indonesian army and troops of the OPM  (Papuan Freedom Organisaation)  which were frequently followed up by military attacks aimed directly at  the civilian population and arbitrary arrests and acts of torture, and the arrest of  people regarded as being against integration with Indonesia.

During the second period, from 1969 to 1998,  the focus was on destroying the remnants of the OPM, who were still involved in guerilla actions in the forests, People living in the towns as well as in the villages  were kept under tight guard and were required to obtain permits from the army if they wanted to travel anywhere. Peoeple who had once been arrested  were often re-arrested  for no apparent reason.

In the third perid following ‘reformasi’ after the fall of Suharto, there were many pressures for changes to be made in the situation in Papua. However, civil actions by  students and political groups of people calling for independence  were dealt with by acts of violence.

[Translated by TAPOL]