Tag Archives: Nick Chesterfield

New Docos examine upheaval in West Papua

As the 1st of December looms, two new short documentaries published by West Papua Media take a look at the recent wave of unprecedented political and industrial action and state repression in the lead up to the 50th anniversary of West Papuan Independence.

The Third Papuan People’s Congress

PLEASE NOTE: FOOTAGE FROM TIMECODE 04:59 – 05:43, OF PAPUAN GUERRILLAS FROM TPN/OPM RAISING THE MORNING STAR FLAG IS INDICATED AS FILE FOOTAGE FROM “FORGOTTEN BIRD OF PARADISE”, AND IS USED PURELY FOR HISTORICALLY ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES.  THIS FOOTAGE WAS SHOT IN 2008 IN THE HIGHLANDS OF PAPUA AND DOES NOT INDICATE, IMPLY OR ILLUSTRATE ANY ARMED PRO-INDEPENDENCE PRESENCE AT THE THIRD PAPUAN PEOPLE’S CONGRESS, WHICH IS FACTUALLY CONFIRMED AS BEING A PEACEFUL, NON-VIOLENT ASSEMBLY, WITH NO WEAPONS OF ANY SORT PRESENT BEFORE, DURING, OR AFTER PROCEEDINGS, OTHER THAN WEAPONS USED AND BELONGING TO INDONESIAN SECURITY FORCES.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE MISREPRESENTATION OF THIS FACT WILL BE CONSIDERED DEFAMATION AND LEGALLY ENFORCED.

Credits

Production:  traverser11 and Nick Chesterfield

Music: Airi Ingram and Ak Rockefeller

Script: Nick Chesterfield and Mark Davis

Video Supplied by: West Papua Media, Tapol/Down to Earth, Dominic Brown; ABC  Lateline, SBS, TV Papoes, Metro TV Papua
Freeport Miners Strike

Video from the three month long strike at Freeport Mine in West Papua, police repression and actions in solidarity with the miners. Produced by traverser11 with music by Airi Ingram.

Credits

Production:  traverser11 and Nick Chesterfield

Music: Airi Ingram and Ak Rockefeller

Video supplied by:  SPSI Freeport (miners Unions), West Papua Media, Lococonut, Theagapaipho, WPACTION Network, Yerry Nikholas, Beni Pakage

and public domain content from: Al Jazeera English, Reuters

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Broadcasting Papua’s Songs of Freedom: Why the international community must support West Papua’s citizen media development

FREE THE PEOPLE? FREE THE MEDIA!

by Nick Chesterfield

A Paper presented at the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies “Comprehending Papua Conference”, February 22-23, 2011.    This paper will form a chapter of the forthcoming book “Comprehending Papua”, to be published in early 2011 by the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

———

It is almost a cliché today that peoples wishing to free themselves from tyranny are turning in huge numbers to citizen journalism both to tell their stories to the outside world, and to put a formidable brake on the out of sight, out of mind mentality that allows state organs to conduct constant abuse with impunity. The rise of citizen media is giving mainstream journalism the kick it needs to remember its core business of giving voice to the voiceless.  In West Papua, the Voiceless are slowly discovering they can roar.

Just a few weeks ago an event occurred in Tunisia that was to be the spark for the pan-Arab awakening which has just seen yet another dictator ousted, now in Egypt.  After a local trader immolated himself in protest against the Tunisian regime, citizen media succeeded in viralizing the news of this event.  “We could protest for two years here, but without videos no one would take any notice of us,” said a relative of the martyred 25-year-old.

For media activists and journalists reporting Papua, this truth is self-evident, and its acceptance hopefully could ignite the spark of uprising in Papua.  The opportunities presented by the Pan-Arab (and other) awakenings are not being lost on the young generation in Papua.  Social media in Papua is buzzing, unafraid, with vibrant discussions of implications for Papua of the pan-Arabic revolutionary success.  The reality is that a spontaneous awakening and mass politicisation of ordinary Papuans is completely inevitable, and it is being ably assisted by switched-on local people developing their capacity to tell the story to the world.

In researching for several stories over the last few months, my sources have told me in no uncertain terms that they are all ready for a trigger to explode the situation.  The only thing holding back sustained mass action – revolution even – across occupied Papua is the constant bickering between exile groups, the actions of the collaborator elites, desperate to cling to the illusion that Jakarta is not there just to steal their land and send them to the moon, and for those who will put their own interests ahead of those surviving under occupation.

What is a mystery is how this mass consciousness will survive the elite and exile power games that are evident in most transitional polities throughout recent history (and is certainly present in West Papua today); whether those exiles will hijack the efforts of the young generation or listen to the actual wishes of their people; and if Jakarta can be trusted not to unleash the truly evil and deeply entrenched habitual brutality that is its only constant in becoming the new colonialists; or that they will claim their place amongst the civilised by not slaughtering those who want peace. History is a wise teacher, and its lesson is never trust the evil or greedy to reform of its own accord.

To keep these ugly realities in check, West Papua (and the international community) needs a determined, effective, vibrant and fearless citizen and professional media to deliver real-time accountability both internally and internationally.

Real time advocacy is vital for the international community to act to end Papua’s suffering.  Human Rights advocates conduct scientific research into abuses, but because this information does not get out easily, the problems in Papua are only now getting known to the world.

I need to ask you all today an honest question:  without the hard work of journalists in Papua and those outside assisting them to get their voice to international media, would Papua even be in people’s consciousness today?   So why is the international arena concerned with West Papua falling prey to the disease of factionalism and Big Man syndrome, and not in assisting WestPapuan people to get their stories into the living rooms of the world?

Many loud mouthed exiles claim significant legitimacy, but baulk and splutter when asked to prove it.   This has developed a culture of opacity across the exile movement.  A strong and diverse citizen based media across Papua can easily counter exile’s game playing and false claims by ensuring credibility and honesty in social movements. It benefits and strengthens social movements too by giving the skills and practice for sharpening their message, and creating a powerful argument for international support for their aims.  Strong domestic media also removes international government’s excuses for inaction, by seriously raising the credibility and verification bar.

If the international community is serious about improving the lives of Papuan people, it will help develop the capacity of the West Papuan media to tell the story of what is going on, and press Jakarta hard to allow immediate international media access.  After all, with full accountability, what is there to be afraid of?

Largely in response to years of wilful ignorance and self-censorship of the Indonesian created horrors in West Papua by international media, many sectors of Papuan society spontaneously and independently began a dramatic take-up of social media technology, exponentially increasing since 2008. Blogs, social networking and online media outlets are being utilized all over the country, by a young generation of Papuans impatient for real change.  Today’s mass Papuan movement is mainly urban, educated, innovative, nonviolence based, and embracing significantly the power of citizen and social media as a key plank of civil resistance strategy.

Very occasionally West Papua does get in the news, but only through the co-ordination between committed journalists and human rights workers working together and ear-bashing news editors.

Due to the ongoing ban by Indonesia on international media and humanitarian organisations having access to Papua, allegations of abuse are notoriously difficult to verify.  While this ban remains in place, only the most dedicated journalists make the effort to go in undercover.   West Papua Media has been proud to facilitate undercover trips into occupied territory to meet with many West Papuan people prepare to tell their own story. This is getting more difficult by the day so local people are working for a solution.

Live images, videos and online activism by Papuan people have already created tremendous momentum in action and awareness of Papua.  By creating their own media, and their own narrative, Papuan people are reclaiming self-determination denied for so long.

Reporting in West Papua is a highly risky business.   Journalists, Papuan and outsiders alike, are under constant threats for reporting West Papua, with four journalists dying in suspicious circumstance in 2010 alone.  Anywhere journalists report fearlessly they are targets, but most journalists in West Papua simply put up with it, they have no other option.  What can we do to lessen their risk?

Partly in response to this danger and partly to give local journalists a voice globally, West Papua Media (WPMA) (WestPapuaMedia.Info) was started. It aims to provide a professional service to international media covering West Papua, ensuring high quality, verifiable reporting gets into the international media, directly from the ground, and not from those who seek to distort the truth of daily experience in Papua.  By reporting Papuan campaigns to end human rights abuses and bringing these unreported Papuan issues to the front page, we hope to hold the abusers to account. With an ever growing stable of committed and disparate voices from citizen media to professional journalists, West Papua Media is proud and excited to be part of this movement.

Some of our real time work has assisted directly in the prevention of mass acts of violence by the Indonesian security forces, such as our coverage and media advocacy fixing of the July 8-9 Otsus Gagal demos and occupation of the Jayapura DPRP.

Less than ten minutes before the deadline for dispersal of the 2 day rally of over 45,000 people, Indonesian security forces were forced to back down after a BBC report aired, organised by WPMA, which brought international attention the explosively dangerous situation.  Extensive international diplomacy occurred in that 15 minutes and, together with the extreme discipline of the mass protest, enabled the protestors to peaceably leave the scene of the protest without violence.

WPMA has worked very hard raising the media profile of West Papua, with significant joint investigations with major media outlets breaking several key stories in 2010.  None of this would be possible without deep trust from the people of Papua in reporting their stories.  West Papuan citizen media, in conjunction with several colleagues here today, played a key role in alerting the world to deeply heinous cases of abuse.

One was the sourcing, verification and release of the deeply shocking leaked Kostrad torture videos of civilians in Puncak Jaya. The Kiwo incident neatly captures why the Indonesian military cannot be trusted to reform themselves from the inside, and why the role of a robust media is so critical in Papua.

The other was footage of Indonesian BRIMOB police taunting a former political prisoner Yawan Wayeni, having disembowelled him moments before for arguing with them. Both these videos showed the power of citizen media in activating international human rights networks to effectively raise the issue of Papua. Of course, there are many more videos in preparation for release.

A swarm movement cannot have a single media strategy, but media need to understand that it will get media out in its own way too.  The media that had wilfully ignored West Papua’s voice for so long really has no right to dictate how information disseminates, and if it wants to get the stories before others, then it just has to move faster.  Because it is new media techniques that have already, and will propel Papua onto the front page, to make people choke on their cornflakes.

Likewise, evidence dissemination also needs multiple, failsafe distribution routes: Single dissemination routes can easily be shut down or silenced.  West Papuans have tailored their mechanisms to this very effectively; yet this is significantly frustrating outside journalists.  According to many in mainstream media, West Papuans can be their own worst enemy when it comes to disseminating information.  People on the ground do need to get smarter about media distribution strategies, but the media also must adapt to a social and cultural reality.  West Papuan human rights and citizen media are not chaotic: they are maximising the potential audience  for their information.

It is important to understand that no one faction or sector in West Papua can claim dominance or leadership of this mass movement. This is not Congress in India and there is no single Gandhi figure. Rather, this is a movement with thousands of Gandhis.  The civil movement refuses to be based around a single leadership group, and instead features multitudes of groups and tribes all acting autonomously and independently (where everyone knows their role and works their hardest) but which is nevertheless unified under its collective goals.

Such a swarm structure can occasionally present difficulties for those who cannot think outside traditional top-down strategies for national change, which includes traditional media. Rather than being shut out of dialogue by the game playing of unaccountable elites, this type of structure encourages a longer lasting peace by enabling all actors to have their voices heard. It is also a natural strategy to employ in a nation where it is,  for the most part, illegal to congregate in groups.

Other barriers for West Papuan media are much more easily solved with a bit of training, and understanding the enemy (this time the enemy being the unreasonable expectations of media executives far removed from reality).

One issue is the lack of speed with which many West Papuan media activists work, and whilst improving, an event on a day has to be filmed, edited, packaged and disseminated as fast as possible. There are issues of journalistic discipline and professional journalistic practice in new media; safe information gathering, abuse documentation and investigative journalism methodology; information quality assurance; protection of sources, and more.

Effective citizen and professional media training is required to develop awareness of major current and future challenges to safe information dissemination – these are all programs that the West Papua Media network is currently engaged in and it needs help to increase its capacity.

All of this costs money, and requires the international community to understand that the development of indigenous journalism in West Papua is crucial to the protection of human security and peace across the entire Asia-Pacific region.  It requires international institutions in media and academia to get out of their cloisters and get muddy, to actually pool resources and help identify new sources of sustainable funding to start training journalists in innovative new media reportage techniques, and to support their work for the global human interest.  As I said before, West Papua Media already has training programs ready to go, we just need the funds to make them happen.

In West Papua, as across the world, accountability is always the simplest solution to combatting impunity. An aggressive culture of investigative journalism must be encouraged, and the skills to enable it must be developed, to deliver that accountability, be it in human rights, against military business mafias and corruption, human security, environmental protections, etcetera, and to cover (and protect) the desires of a population to determine their own future, in both the current occupation and in any situation for the future.  Both academia and international media must take a strong role in its development, to embed international protections to enable West Papua’s journalists and citizen media to report without fear, hindrance or threat, the stories that are important to West Papuan people and their freedom.

Our hope is that we have a really robust citizen media that can deliver accountability.  We want to stop people from being afraid of speaking out, and we want West Papua’s voice to be its weapon, to broadcast its songs for Freedom.

Nick Chesterfield, editor at westpapuamedia.info, is a human security journalist and activist with extensive experience of the Papua issue through refugee protection, human rights, environmental protection, and citizen media work and safety training. He has conducted many field investigations in the West Papuan region since 1999. Together with citizen media and human rights workers from inside Papua, Chesterfield helped set up West Papua Media in 2008, to counter the wilful lack of coverage of West Papua by the international press.

 

Comprehending West Papua: A report on the CPACS conference in Sydney and surrounding events

University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Comprehending Papua Conference

February 22-23, 2011

Comprehending West Papua: A report on the CPACS conference in Sydney and surrounding events

 

“We are Melanesian, not Indonesian!” and “Free Filip Karma!” chanted a group of West Papuans from around Australia – some refugees, some studying in Australia on scholarships – who had gathered in front of the Indonesian embassy in Maroubra, Sydney, on February 22, 2011. This demonstration urging Indonesia to free West Papuan political prisoners kicked off a week of events in Sydney bringing together academics and other advocates to focus on the status of West Papuan human rights.

 

Later that evening, a cocktail reception hosted by the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), University of Sydney, followed by a dinner for conference participants, marked a merry beginning to a serious conference on Comprehending West Papua (February 23-4), the sixth in a series of conferences on the topic held by CPACS over a decade.

 

The conference was opened the following day by Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees and a performance group from the West Papuan community in Melbourne, both of whom graced the conference, respectively, with West Papua-centred revolutionary poetry and songs of inspiration. Up to 80 people attended the conference which convened at International House, with presenters from overseas (The Netherlands, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand and Vanuatu), and interstate (Victoria and the ACT). Papers from in absentia participants (Paul Barber and Rosa Moiwend from TAPOL based in Surrey, John Saltford from London and Jim Elmslie from South Australia) were presented on their behalf, and Eben Kirksey, currently based in Florida, addressed the conference via video link.

 

The conference received good media coverage prompting an op ed in the Sydney Morning Herald by Hamish McDonald (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/a-worm-inside-the-new-); several ABC radio interviews http://www.abc.net.au/ra/asiapac/stories/m1965274.asx; a New Matilda article (http://newmatilda.com/2011/03/03/does-west-papua-have-publicity-problemINTERVIEW), and coverage by Radio New Zealand International and SBS.

 

Paper highlights covered new interpretations of self-determination, from Akihisa Matsuno, in light of the concept of legitimate sovereignty (rather than decolonization) that guided the independence successes of East Timor, Kosovo and (soon to be) South Sudan; a presentation by Nick Chesterfield on the opportunities afforded for West Papua by new social media currently carrying revolutions in the Arab world; a spectacular analysis of the Australian Museum’s Sentani bark cloth art production by Yvonne Carrillo-Huffman; the outlaying of precise political goals for achieving independence and for post-independence governance by Jacob Rumbiak; and an astute reappraisal of the anti-Act of Free Choice campaigns that took place in West Papua in the 1960s by Dutch historian Pieter Drooglever. The entire collection of papers will be gathered into a book to be published later this year.

 

West Papuan political positions were represented by Rex Rumakiek and Otto Ondawame from the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, Jacob Rumbiak and Herman Wainggai from the West Papua National Authority, and Franzalbert Joku and Nick Messet from IGSSARPRI (the Independent Group Supporting the Special Autonomous Region of Papua Within the Republic of Indonesia). Passions ran high as discussions on the different political positions (essentially support for independence or integration) predictably emerged with so much at stake for all, but a respectful atmosphere reigned and peaceful dialogue between parties transpired.

The conference closed with the launch of a beautiful short film titled Mambefor Dance directed by West Papuan Melanie Kapisa, showcasing two young children learning West Papuan dance from imitating bird of paradise rituals. Dr Jude Philp from the Macleay Museum also generously showed conference participants around the University of Sydney’s West Papua collection donated in the 1970s and housed at Fisher Library. Finally, conference participants signed an open letter initiated by Human Rights Watch to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, requesting that the prohibitive restrictions on access to West Papua be lifted for researchers, NGOs and foreign media.

That evening at the Amnesty International offices in Sydney, Indonesian Solidarity launched a campaign to free West Papuan political prisoners. The launch was addressed by Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono with a powerful presentation documenting Filip Karma’s imprisonment, and John Dowd, QC, President of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Australia. The week closed on Saturday 26 February with the annual national meeting of the Australia West Papua Association at which campaign decisions to support West Papuan self-determination for 2011-2012 were decided upon, together with West Papuan advisers (and members) Rex Rumakiek, Jacob Rumbiak, and Otto Ondawame.

 

Cammi Webb-Gannon camelliabell at gmail.com;

West Papua Report March 2011

http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/2011/1103wpap.htm

West Papua Report

March 2011

This is the 83rd in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org.

Summary:

Newly obtained video footage reveals Indonesian security forces, including U.S. and Australian-backed Detachment 88 personnel, brutality in operations in West Papua’s Central Highlands. Indonesian NGOs and prominent Papuans have faulted President Yudhoyono’s newly announced approach to dialogue with Papuans with criticism of Jakarta’s failure to end human rights violations and impunity by security forces as a basis for dialogue. Papuans criticized Jakarta’s selection of a limited range of Papuans as dialogue partners and have urged a role for international mediators. A prominent West African leader has announced support for West Papua’s self-determination. The chair of the Papuan Peoples Council (DAP) denounced the Indonesian government’s policy of transmigration. The Asian Legal Resource Center has appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to address continued security force abuse of human rights in West Papua. A Papuan political prisoner who is gong blind as a result of an attack by a prison warder needs urgent care. A report from within West Papua details land grabs by the Indonesian military and “developers” which have targeted Papuans in the Sorong area.  Hamish McDonald considers Papuans’ struggle for self-determination in the light of recent similar successful examples within the international community.

Contents:

New Video Footage Reveals Indonesian Military Brutality

Video footage released in early February reveals previously unseen Indonesian military brutality against Papuan civilians in Kapeso in 2009. The footage was released by West Papua Media and can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD0eFA4scTo

The video shows the late May 2009 raid on the Kapeso airstrip in the village of Kampung Bagusa in Mamberamo regency by troops from Indonesia’s elite police counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88  as well as other security personnel from BRIMOB and other units. Detachment 88 was created at behest of the U.S. government and receives significant U.S. and Australian Government funding and training assistance.

The footage, filmed by a Detachment 88 officer on his mobile phone, shows the immediate aftermath of a raid to retake the airfield which had been occupied for several weeks by a small armed group and a large number of villagers. The bodies of at least five dead are visible on the ground and sporadic gunfire is clearly heard. It appears that the footage was taken well after the killing took place. Footage depicting security personnel taking cover behind desks appears to have been staged to suggest the conflict was continuing.

Disturbing scenes at the end of the footage appear to show two Papuan children tied up and being forced at gunpoint to crawl along the floor by the Indonesian military. The footage continues to show them in apparent pain while the soldiers taunt them. In another scene troops are shown firing at civilians cowering in adjacent brush.

Indonesian authorities have not investigated events surrounding the Kapeso occupation and shooting of civilians by security forces.

West Papua media commented that such footage of brutal Indonesian security force actions, amounting to  ‘trophy footage,’ is rampant among troops operating in the region.

For all media enquiries please contact Nick Chesterfield at West Papua Media on wpmedia_admin@riseup.net or +61409268978

In September 2010, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) called for suspension of U.S. aid to Detachment 88 “pending review of charges leveled against the unit for systemic human rights violations, including use of torture.”

Government’s “Dialogue” Approach with Papuans Faulted

The “Alliance for Papua” on February 25 issued a press statement that critiqued a government plan for dialogue with Papuans. The statement called on the government to better synchronize its plans for the dialogue with the reality of politics in Papua.  (See below for composition of this NGO alliance.)

The initial government approach calls for two presidential assistants to engage in dialogue with Papuans who would be represented by the Papuan branch of  the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the Papuan People’s Council (MRP), and the churches. The two presidential assistants are Bambang Darmono and Farid Husein.

The Alliance for Papua urged that the government to create appropriate conditions for dialogue by undertaking to “consistently protect and comply with the basic rights of the Papua people by ensuring that there is no repetition of violations of Papuan human rights.” The alliance also urged that the government review the presence of the TNI security forces and the undercover security operations “that continue to occur.”

According to the alliance, the government also should not proceed with the election of members of the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua, Papuan People’s Council). The MRP is an institution that was mandated by Papua’s special autonomy law (OTSUS). The vast majority of the Papuan people have declared that OTSUS has failed “because it has not taken sides with, given protection to, empowered and fulfilled the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people.”

The alliance points out that the government has nevertheless pressed ahead with the election of a second-term MRP in 15 districts of Papua. The second-term MRP is due to be sworn into office soon. The alliance objects to proceeding with the seating of the MRP because the election of MRP members “has not been transparent and has failed to comply with the [mandated] electoral stages.”  The alliance also contends that the counting of the votes has been deeply fraudulent.

The alliance argues that seating the fraudulently elected MRP members “will only reinforce the Papuan people’s sense of  disappointment towards a government that lacks any understanding and has shown no respect for local Papuan feelings.”

For his part, the outgoing chairperson of the MRP, Forkorus Yoboisembut criticized the government approach to dialogue by arguing that those Papuan groups that the government has announced as dialogue partners are not representative of the people because they don’t fully understand the Papuan problem. He contended that the government approach to dialogue would amount to the government talking to itself ” because they are  all within the same system, and this would solve nothing.” He urged instead that the dialogue be with DAP (Dewan Adat Papua, Papuan Traditional Council)  , the Papuan resistance (OPM), the Papuan parliament, and other Papuan groups.

Separately, the executive director of LP3BH,Yan Christian Warinussy said a neutral party should mediate the Jakarta-Papua talks,  He suggested an international group such as the Henri Dunant Centre or a foreign country with experience in handling conflict resolution, including Aceh.

WPAT Note:  The Alliance for Papua in Jakarta was set up as an expression of solidarity with humanitarianism, in support of fellow human beings in their struggle for justice and truth. The Alliance includes KontraS, ANBTI, IKOHI, Imparsial, Foker LSM Papua, Setara Institute, HRWG, Komnas Perempuan, FNMPP, IPPMAUS, Forum Papua Kalimantan, PGI, Walhi, JIRA, LBH Pers.

West African Leader Supports Papuan Self Determination

WestPan, Canada’s West Papua Action Network, reports that the President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade has become the first African leader to publicly back West Papua’s bid for self determination, stating that “West Papua is now an issue for all black Africans.”

His comments came in late January during a conference in Senegal’s capital Dakar, attended by Benny Wenda, a West Papuan activist who was granted political asylum by the British Government in 2003. Benny Wenda addressed the audience, telling them about the situation in his homeland. Following his address Wenda presented the President with a Papuan headdress, and was warmly embraced by him. The President then addressed the audience, urging all African nations to take attention to the West Papua issue and do whatever they can to help.

In 1969, when Indonesia, with the backing of the United States, sought UN approval for its annexation of West Papua through the fraudulent “Act of Free Choice,” it encountered significant resistance in West Africa where the memories of colonialism were still strong.

Papuan People’s Council Condemns Transmigration as Harmful to Local People

Responding to a report that the government plans to send more transmigrants to Papua, the chair of Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan People’s Council) Forkorus Yoboisembut https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/reg.westpapua/2011-02/msg00051.html asserted that continuation of transmigration would transform the Papuan people into a minority in their own lands and trigger conflicts.  “‘As the representative of the adat (traditional) people in Papua, I reject the transmigration program which fails to safeguard the position of the local people,” he said.

Forkorus’s statement came after media reports that the central government has allocated Rp 600 billion to pay for the transmigration of people from Indonesia to a number of so-called “under-populated”  places in the Indonesian archipelago, including Papua. https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/reg.westpapua/2011-02/msg00068.html

“I hope the central government will consider this matter carefully because the transmigration program to Papua has already resulted in the marginalization of the indigenous people in the context of (so-called) development work,” Forkorus stated.

Forkorus said that the location of transmigrants in many places in Papua has made it difficult for the local communities to preserve their own culture and lifestyles. Development of more luxurious migrant lifestyles, he explained, intensifies the marginalization of the local people.

In addition, because the government has lavished attention on the transmigrants, feelings of envy emerge.

Forkorus also noted that Papuans’  marginalization in their own homeland is evidenced by the cat that vast majority of those now running the economy are non-Papuans.  Forkorus added that Papuans are not yet able to compete with the newcomers in economic affairs.

(WPAT Comment:  Papuans rank at the bottom in Indonesia in terms of central government provision of health care, education services and employment creation. In the province of West Kalimantan, decades of central government driven “transmigration” has transformed the indigenous Dayak into a minority in their homeland and led to conflicts, particularly with Madurese transmigrants, along the lines of Forkorus’s concerns. The policy, abandoned during the Suharto dictatorship due to international condemnation, has been resumed under the Yudhoyono administration despite criticism that it is tantamount to ethnic cleansing.)

Human Rights Council Hears Urgent Appeal Regarding Human Rights Abuse in West Papua

On February 22, the Human Rights Council heard an urgent plea from the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) regarding worsening human rights abuse in West Papua and the impunity accorded perpetrators of that abuse. The statement said in part:

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) is seriously concerned by ongoing, widespread human rights violations and  violent acts being committed by the Indonesian security forces in the Papuan highlands in Indonesia. Impunity typically  accompanies even the most serious abuses, as shown by the lack of effective remedies in a case of severe torture that  the ALRC has documented recently. Despite institutional reforms in Indonesia, effective accountability for human rights violations in Papua is lacking, resulting in impunity that then engenders further atrocities.

Impunity and the sense of injustice that it engenders in society are having a strong impact on social stability and cohesion in Papua.  Repression, discrimination and human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces are adding to tensions. Papuans reportedly feel like second-class citizens in Indonesia, even within Papua itself, and face discrimination, poverty and injustice as a result. The military arbitrarily suspect Papuans of being linked with rebel groups and stigmatize them, subjecting them to abuse.

The ALRC statement recounts two of the more flagrant examples of abuse and impunity where military personnel were videoed beating and torturing Papuan civilians (see West Papua Report December 2010). Those prosecuted for this received minimal sentences. The ALRC statement comments:

The government of Indonesia continues to deny the widespread use of violence by the Indonesian military in Papua, and alleges that these violations are rare and isolated, individual cases. However, the ALRC continues to receive further cases of violence against indigenous Papuans, including killings by the police and military, arbitrary arrests, the burning of houses and killing of livestock, which point to a widespread pattern of the use of violence, as well as a policy of intimidation by the Indonesian military.

The statement underscores the inadequacy of the Indonesian military and civilian court systems for addressing the continuing abuses:

Human rights violations and other crimes committed against civilians by members of the military are still only tried by military courts, which lack independence, transparency, a comprehensive penal code incorporating human rights norms, and a system of punishments that are proportional to the severity of the crimes committed.  A military tribunal is not able to hold perpetrators of torture accountable in line with international law standards. Such tribunals cannot invoke any military regulations that prohibit the use of torture. Therefore, perpetrators cannot be tried for committing torture and no remedies can therefore be provided to victims.
Furthermore, the country’s penal code does not include torture as a crime. This means that members of the police that commit torture remain immune from criminal prosecution. Indonesia is therefore failing to comply with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture. Indonesia ratified the Convention against Torture in 1998, but the use of torture is still widespread and systematic…

The ALRC urgently calls for remedial action by the Indonesian government:

Jakarta must ensure that the security forces halt the use of excessive force and violence-based strategies in dealing with  security-related issues in Papua. Allegations of human rights violations must be investigated and any lacuna in legislation and due process must be addressed. For example, torture must be criminalized in line with Indonesia’s international obligations under the Convention Against Torture. Military personnel who are alleged to be responsible for human rights violations against civilians must be tried in civilian courts.

The ALRC also recommended that the Indonesian government undertake steps to reduce tensions and address outstanding injustice:

…the ALRC urges the Indonesian government to heed the call for dialogue made by the Papuan indigenous community and avoid a
further deterioration of the conflict in Papua. Finally, the ALRC calls on the Indonesian government to release all Papuan political prisoners,
in order to show its commitment to a new path towards peace, security and human rights in Papua.

The ALRC underscored the role and responsibility of the international community in addressing the ongoing abuses and impunity:

The ALRC invites the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to recommend institutional reforms to the government of Indonesia to ensure that members of the military are held accountable by independent courts that uphold human rights and constitutional values and ensure that these are made available to legislators in Indonesia.
The ALRC also requests that the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment follow up with the Indonesian government to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations made to Indonesia during the UPR review regarding the review of the penal code and the full criminalisation of torture.

Note: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organization holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organization of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Journalist Organization Chief Calls for Reporting on Human Rights in West Papua

The chair of the the Papua chapter Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) speaking in Jayapura, urged the press in Papua to regularly monitor cases of human rights violations in Papua, according to a report published in February 11 JUBI and translated by TAPOL.

AJI’s Victor Mambor emphasized the importance of the media reporting the human rights situation in Papua saying this can help reduce acts of repression against the civilian population.

He added that many reports about human rights in Papua were only available from NGOs active in the field, and these were frequently quoted in reports that appear in the media. He stressed the importance in ensuring  that these reports are accurate and credible. Journalists should provide the appropriate  references to make it easier for others to investigate the violations that occur.

WPAT Comment:  Reporting on human rights violations in West Papua, particularly in instances where the TNI or police were involved, pose risks for journalists. Manokwari area reporter Ardiansyah Matra was murdered in July 2010 following his investigative reporting regarding police and military coercion targeting civilians in the development of the MIFEE plantation project in Manokwari. AJI has been active in following up on this case. Government restrictions placed on foreign journalists and NGO personnel impede their access to West Papua and reporting on human rights in the region.

Papuan Political Prisoner Denied Adequate Medical Treatment

New concerns have been raised about the inadequate medical treatment afforded Papuan prisoners of conscience Ferdinand Pakage. He is going blind following a beating by prison authorities in 2010.

Peneas Lokbere, chair of SKPHP HAM Papua (Solidarity for the Victims of Human Rights Violations in Papua), told JUBI that his organization is continuing to press for medical treatment for Ferdinand Pakage.  “We will continue to fight for treatment after he was struck in the eye by an official of the Abepura Prison. This caused his eye to bleed and he is now not able to see any more with this eye” said Lokbere.

SKPHP is working with Pakage’s family to press the prison authorities to speed up medical attention to his condition. Lokbere explained that his organization has been demanding treatment for Pakage since last year, when they sought permission for him to go to Jakarta where treatment is available. However, according to Lokbere, Prison Director Liberti Sitinjak refused permission for any transfer of Pakage out of West Papua. Lokbere noted that in 2010, Pakage was told by a doctor at the West Papua General Hospital in Dok II say that he needed to have an operation in Jakarta. The doctor said that his eye was badly damaged and that even if he does get medication in Jakarta, he will continue to be blind.

Pakage was assaulted by prison warders Alberth Toam, Victor Apono and Gustaf Rumaikewi while in detention in Abepura. Toam struck the blow that injured Pakage’s eye. None of the warders has been held responsible for this assault. Pakage is now held in custody with common criminals, including those convicted of violent crimes.

Military and Military-Backed “Developers” Seize Papuan Lands

A Sorong-area leader has illegally transferred Papuan tribal lands to the Indonesian military (TNI) and to non-Papuans. The transferred land is vitally important, affording resources that are key to Papuan survival. Victims include Papuans belonging to various clans and tribes including the Osok, Mambringofok Idik and Fadan peoples in Klamono and Semugu and Kalaibin among others. The TNI has employed terror and intimidation targeting local Papuans to enforce the land transfers. The land sites are located along the Sorong to Klamono road at kilometer markers 16, 38 and 49 in the western end of the territory.

The military and non-Papuan developers will exploit the land for military base construction and oil palm plantation development.  Specifically, local District Chief (Regent) Stefanus Malak provided land to the navy at km 16  and to the army at Km 38 to build a bases (the latter land belongs to the Semugu clan).  Land was also transferred to the TNI, without tribal consent, at Km 49. This site will be used by the TNI to develop a palm oil plantation.

Seizure of land by the TNI, especially through use of force, violates various international obligations undertaken by Indonesia including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Article 30:

“1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a  relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed to or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned.

“2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.”

Analysis Considers Papuan Self-Determination Struggle in Context of Similar Recent Successful Efforts

The Sydney Morning Herald on February 26 published an analysis comparing Papua’s struggle for self-determination with some recent anti-colonial struggles. “A Worm Inside the New Indonesia” by veteran journalist Hamish McDonald draws on the experiences of south Sudan and Kosovo, two emerging nation states as potential models for West Papua. McDonald, former Foreign Editor of the Herald with extensive experience in Indonesia, concludes that these developments have had the effect of rendering “respect for the territorial integrity of states and post-colonial boundaries somewhat tattered.”

Indonesia has long insisted that the international community affirmatively express public recognition of its “territorial integrity” in the context of West Papua. Similarly, Indonesia  once demanded international recognition of its territorial integrity to include its annexation of East Timor, though with less success.

McDonald cites Akihisa Matsuno of Osaka University as suggesting that between Kosovo and southern Sudan, the later would appear to offer a more applicable precedent for West Papua. Sudan became independent in 1956 from British rule, but has been in civil war most of the time since. A 2005 peace agreement finally conceded a referendum on independence by the south. This suggests to Matsuno that a lack of integration between territories ruled by the same colonial power can justify a separate state. McDonald writes that ”this means that colonial boundaries are not as absolute as usually assumed.”

There is a broad international consensus that the 1969 Indonesian annexation of West Papua was in violation of its UN mandate to administer the territory and entailed a transparently fraudulent referendum, the “Act of Free Choice.”  McDonald writes that  Richard Chauvel, an Indonesia scholar at Melbourne’s Victoria University, described West Papua as Indonesia’s ”Achilles’ heel” and the conference. Chauvel argued that, notwithstanding Indonesia’s democratic progress since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, West Papua remains “Indonesia’s last and most intractable regional conflict.” As such, Chauvel contends,  ”Papua has become a battleground between a ‘new’ and an ‘old’ Indonesia. The ‘old’ Indonesia considers that its soldiers torturing fellow Indonesians in a most barbaric manner is an ‘incident’. The ‘new’ Indonesia aspires to the ideals of its founders in working towards becoming a progressive, outward-looking, cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.”

McDonald concludes that, as demonstrated by the ongoing developments in the Middle East, “the new media make it harder and harder to draw a veil over suppression. In the Indonesia that is opening up, the exception of West Papua will become more glaring.”

Back issues of West Papua Report

West Papua: Ignored Struggle Set To Explode On Our Doorstep

West Papua: Ignored Struggle Set To Explode On Our Doorstep

Scoop.co.nz

Ignored Struggle Set To Explode On Our Doorstep

By Nick Chesterfield of WestPapuaMedia.Info (In Wellington)

While the world’s media is obsessing with manufactured crisis after crisis, a seriously under-reported and potentially explosive situation on our doorstep has largely failed to take the notice of both media and government. The willful ignorance of events in West Papua, the atrocious behaviour of the Indonesian military and the rise of effective and determined civil resistance is building to a situation that may slap Pacific countries hard in the face during 2011.

West Papua is a colony. After surviving almost 48 years of entrenched brutal treatment at the hands of the Indonesian security apparatus (and ignored by complicit powers ) West Papua civil resistance is consolidating. Innovative new tactics for self-determination are emerging daily as West Papuan people create dynamic space for discussion and action on how to end the state violence on their land.

And now after Jakarta has stubbornly refused to reform the actions of its brutal security forces, and even to simply listen to legitimate grievances, a momentum is developing that will see sustained mass civil disobedience resume after the rains end in early 2011. This will again create a direct challenge to end a colonial occupation from Indonesia that has delivered little benefit and much pain to West Papuan people for nearly five decades.

And just as occurred in East Timor in 1999, the moves towards independence have sparked crackdown by the Indonesian military against non-violent acts of peaceful resistance. Military and police action is intensifying across West Papua, including the arrest of Indonesian legal observers sent in by Jakarta-based civil society.

(Click Here To Download .flv file – full uncut version)

Major arrests have been occurring against people for simply showing the banned Morning Star flag, and political prisoners are being herded around different keepers like cattle. Since West Papuan people commemorated their sacred Independence Day on December 1, there have been daily abuses against Papuan people in Jayapura, Wamena, Tingginambut, Bolakme, Manokwari, Sorong and many more unreported cases.

By taking inspiration and adapting lessons from other successful national liberation struggles, the Papuan people’s strategy is simple and moving forward: through civil disobedience and international action, the aim is to make the cost of occupation unaffordable for Indonesia, and for the enablers of colonial occupation.

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An Issue About To Attract A Spotlight

Several factors could propel the issue of Papua front and centre of Pacific affairs in the next 12 months:

  • the desire of ordinary Papuans for deep and comprehensive change, and their organisation, education, and consolidation of the civil resistance movement to achieve that aim;
  • the combined push by Indonesian, international and Papuan civil society to expose potentially embarrassing evidence of Indonesian crimes against humanity.
  • the likelihood of the Indonesian security policy turning rogue in cracking down on all civilians presenting opposition to Jakarta’s plunder of Papua and Papuans.

Already peaceful acts of civil resistance are being met with disproportionate brutality. Three people were shot dead in Nafri on December 1, and in Manokwari, local independence activists are continuing to be abducted by Kopassus, the notorious special forces unit blamed for decades of abuse.

And given the well-known history of brutal behaviour by an unreformed Indonesian military drunk on impunity, there is every likelihood that an enhanced and co-ordinated civil resistance will generate enormous anger from the least civilised elements of the Indonesian state.

Such events have the potential to draw in all Pacific countries whether they like it or not, and will make the violence in East Timor look like a minor skirmish. The opportunity to avoid bloodshed that may engulf wider Melanesia depends on the choices and actions Australia and NZ make in the coming months. The prospect of another East Timor has serious ramifications for the whole Pacific region.

Impunity is the core of the problems in Papua. With an international community too cowardly and/or complicit to hold the Indonesian state and security forces to account, the culture of the TNI [Indonesian Armed Forces] is completely unchallenged. Abuses continue to mount, mass suffering, criminality and mafia behaviour occurs, terrorism and environmental destruction continue – and all the while the Australian Government refuses to stop training these thugs and killers.

Even the US has not actually implemented the resumption of training and support yet, but Australia has never suspended it. With the Indonesian military still only receiving about 20% of its funding from the state, mafia business rackets are the motivation for all their actions. These are the thugs Australia pays to protect its own corporate interests, such as the Rio Tinto owned Freeport mine, the largest gold/copper mine on Earth.

Tough Questions for Pacific Governments

The question both Australia and NZ people must ask their governments, is how much responsibility do we bear for training torturers and abusers and financially enabling the organised criminal apparatus they work for? The people of Papua are understandably saddened by our enabling of the people that make their lives hell every day. Is this how we wish to be seen?

Refusing to actively condemn these behaviours threatens basic human security in our region where it is most vulnerable. And with the manufactured furore in Australia over the relative trickle of refugees from war zones (of our making) how is Australia going to cope with tens of thousands of Papuans fleeing for their lives from coming extreme violence in West Papua?

As a former refugee protection worker and one of the few people involved in assisting a boatload of 43 refugees to land in Cape York, Australia in January 2006, I am well placed to assess the likelihood of any influx.

After several boats attempted the very short Torres Strait crossing, the Australian government asked me in panicked tones: “how many more are you bringing?”. My response now is the same as then: “that depends entirely on how many people need to flee the killings of the Indonesian murder machine”.

It should not take a rocket scientist to see that if there are threats to people’s safety or the ability to live free from climate threats (posed by massive and rapacious land use changes) then people are going to flee to those immediate places to seek protection from slaughter. This course of action is a basic human right, which under the 1951 Refugee Convention both Australia and NZ are treaty bound to honour.

All these “push factors” are as present in West Papua as they are in Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq. In the Pacific, the destination for fleeing West Papuans is obvious. However for the last 45 years, the obvious and logical is something which has been missing from most Pacific Governments’ attitude to Papua.

Political leadership across the Asia-Pacific theatre must wake up to the fact that civil society inside Papua is sick of excuses for looking the other way while a slow motion genocide is inflicted on their people.

With conservative estimates of 200,000 people murdered under occupation, and a demographic discrepancy of 526,000 people unaccounted for, Papuans are acting now for their very survival.

The question that those fighting for survival often ask is: “why are Pacific peoples forgetting their ancestors?”

West Papua’s Resistence Has Evolved Into A Cohesive Whole

For the past decade international media coverage of West Papua has been sporadic, with occasional breakthroughs of stories too terrible to ignore. As such, a stereotype has been entrenched in Western minds of a low level guerrilla insurgency that has little popular support, a view based mainly on bad journalism.

The traditional western understanding of Papuan resistance to Indonesian violence is a romantic notion based on the image of traditional semi naked highland warriors armed with spears and clunky old rifles. However, this Guerrillas in the Mist cliché of armed struggle (whilst still a key part of resistance identity), represents only a tiny element of the total campaign for long term change in Papua, and simply put, does not involve the majority of civil society.

Today’s mass Papuan movement is mainly urban, educated, innovative, nonviolence based, and embracing significantly the power of citizen and social media as a key plank of civil resistance strategy.

Not waiting for the rest of the world to come to the rescue, many sectors of Papuan society spontaneously and independently began a dramatic take-up of social media technology, something which has exponentially increased since 2008. Blogs, social networking and online media outlets are being utilized all over the country, encouraged by the emergence of a generation who came into adulthood after the Papuan Spring of 1999-2000.

Like all Melanesian peoples, this generation deeply respects the experience, counsel, lessons and traditional Law of those elders who have held resistance throughout the occupation, but they are refusing to be held back by its understandably sapped energy. To ensure this does not spark intergenerational conflict (which can easily be exploited by the Indonesian colonial forces) many of the most respected elders across civil society are handing over to the younger activists and leaders as they recognise the new dynamism that is emerging, while providing the guidance that is so critical to maintain indigenous Melanesian identity.

Indonesian civil society must also challenge their state’s behaviour in Papua: are they going to allow their reputation to be trashed even further by a military hell bent on exploitation and mafia fear tactics at any cost, or are they going to do something about it?

Myth Busting (1): Territorial integrity is not immutable

Before East Timor become independent (very suddenly in 1999) the very idea that Indonesia would allow East Timor to leave was unthinkable. Then circumstances changed.

For the same reason the current AUS-NZ (and nearly unanimous global) policy stance of “supporting Indonesia’s territorial integrity” is not even close to a factor in determining what kind of reality will hit the Pacific in early 2011.

Papuan’s have little hope that deals done with the corporate enablers of occupation will deliver any kind of liberation, nor are they unrealistic about their prospects through organised civil/social resistance.

The traditional Great Power game does not factor in the desire of peoples surviving genocide and resisting annihilation. However we are no longer playing that game.

The commercial elites’ (of all the world) obsession with boardroom deals, and keeping happy those who have already profited massively off occupation, just has no bearing with the reality of a switched on, educated, and determined civil resistance.

Historically speaking sustained widespread civil resistance is almost universally the main catalyst for lasting change, a point that has been demonstrated consistently across the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall and more recently across many parts of the former Russian sphere.

Similarly many in the older generation in West Papua have lived under Jakarta’s colonial behaviour and believe that change is unlikely in the extreme.

However the younger generation in West Papua brooks little quarter to Cold War era “Great Power” mindsets amongst their opponents (and even some international friends) that do not think that small independent countries have the capacity to determine their own future.

They are adamant that they will not let a far off bunch of elites determine their future ever again – and notwithstanding the risks are prepared to seek what they want.

National boundaries that are made by drawing lines on with no respect for local geographies or ethnic boundaries, are not countries that ever last. West Papua is an example of one of the most ridiculous arbitrary colonial delineations in history, with a line drawn straight down 141 degrees, declaring one side is Asia and the other the Pacific. Tell that to the cassowaries, kangaroos and birds of paradise and see if they listen.

Whilst it has to be acknowledged that for East Timor, international resource deals did assist in securing the pathway toward Indonesia’s withdrawal (not to mention internal turmoil), many actors in Papuan civil society are very well aware that independence alone is not a guarantee to genuine independence.

One only has to look at the massive forces faced by the former resistance heroes of East Timor’s independence struggle to see that when the resource companies hold the power, the conditions for justice are never met.

In fact the decision by East Timor’s elite to give away any chance of accountability for the most heinous crimes in Indonesia – outside those committed in Papua – was heavily lobbied for by the Government of Australia. Australia in turn was lobbied by large resource corporations who wanted a suitable “business as usual” investment environment.

Business as usual in the case of West Papua, as evidenced by the operations of Rio Tinto’s Freeport , is shorthand for utilising Indonesian security forces to carry out massive human rights abuses.

And so without any international insistence that human rights improvements be enforced against Indonesian State, military, and business interests operating in Papua (and genuine, measurable reform of the military) another East Timor is looking ever more likely in Papua.

TNI Military Tactics In West Papua In 2010 Nearly Identical To East Timor 1999

Many of the strategies that the TNI are utilising in Papua are almost identical to their behaviour in East Timor in the build up to the militia riots and massacre of 1999.

Now as then the strategies are:

  • to treat every person in Papua as a military enemy until they submit to military rule;
  • to wipe out any hint of resistance through a massive campaign of random terror, abductions, torture, rape and pillage;
  • to exploit all possible resources to enrich individual military/militia commander’s business empires;
  • to aggressively expand into areas not previously exploited;
  • to conduct punitive sweeps of massive disproportionate force through any area that may harbour sympathies to independence or dialogue;
  • to decisively put down any act of organised rebellion (whether nonviolent or otherwise) with extreme force.

And the identical use of militia proxies to conduct terror operations.

There is only one result that will come of such strategies. Eventually, the people’s desire for survival outweighs their fear of reprisal, and they kick back hard. Harder than the cassowary. And the violence will escalate.

Myth Busting (2): West Papua is a Colony, Indonesia is Colonialist

So what does this crisis mean for Indonesia? Internally?

For starters Indonesia must face the fact that despite its powerful anti-colonial birth, it is still a colonialist country. It has become everything it fought against.

After fighting so hard for Indonesia Merdeka (Indonesia in Liberation/Freedom), now it refuses to even to countenance the idea of Papua Merdeka. Why is freedom valid for one people and not the other?

In recent years Jakarta successfully bribed the Vanuatu government of Edward Natepei to not list the Papua on the agenda at the UN Decolonisation Committee, but this alone does not make West Papua not a colony.

Jakarta’s chairmanship of the committee is up for expiry soon, so there is potential for change. West Papua is still one of the last colonies on Earth, yet the UN look the other way. Is it too difficult to understand why West Papuan people have zero faith in UN institutions like this?

What Happens Next To A Mafia Run West Papua?

The argument put forward by those foreign powers seemingly under Jakarta’s control is that for Indonesia securing the status quo over West Papua is of paramount interest: Keeping Jakarta happy trumps all concern over human rights, the future of our region’s forests and climate, and the future of human security.

Simply put however, no it does not.

In fact, Indonesia’s failure to stand up against it’s internally unaccountable rogue military mafia will just enhance the likelihood of a brutal and unholy alliance forming between rapacious, expansionist and brutal regimes hell bent on lifting whatever can be carried away in West Papua – and after that anywhere else in Indonesia, SEA and the Pacific that the criminals can get their hands on.

And these alliances have the potential to make 500 years of European gangster colonialism and indigenous genocide look positively humanitarian by comparison.

Already both China and Russia have been offering significant help to Indonesia, and the ever masterly shadow puppeteer Indonesia is playing everyone against everyone else in the Great Power game. Meanwhile those who would be most expected to be keeping an eye on their neighbour – Australia – are experiencing an advanced case of self-inflicted blindness.

Since the ratification of the Lombok Treaty in Australia in February 2008 (it was signed in 2006), giving succour or support to West Papua “separatism” has been outlawed. And oddly this seems to include the simple act of reporting on activities of West Papua political groups.

Official Australian government monitoring of the situation in West Papua is non-existent unless forced, and Canberra refuses to allow either formal or informal contact between it and Australian citizens (such as myself and WestPapuaMedia.Info), or West Papuans, who have data and current monitoring information and resources inside West Papua.

Publicly both Australia and New Zealand continually parrot the Indonesian designed mantra that, “we must respect Indonesia’s territorial integrity”. But this is just long winded description for doing nothing.

Meanwhile West Papuans will not wait for permission from Australia to seek justice, nor respect a diplomatic need to keep the Indonesians happy. Indonesia is in their country, Indonesia is killing their people, Indonesia is destroying Papua’s ancient forests and threatening the very essence of Papuan survival. Papua wants to be free, and neither Australia nor anyone will stand in the way of a people who want to be free.

And thankfully – even if Australia is officially seeing and hearing no evil – media and human rights workers who care about West Papua have many backdoor methods to ensure that the situation enters the official record.

Instability in Neighbouring Papua New Guinea

Adding to the current geopolitical powderkeg in West Papua is the imminent collapse of the Sir Michael Somare kleptocracy in Papua Niugini (Papua New Guninea – the half of Papua that is in the Pacific) which will likely create a security vacuum that Indonesia is well placed to take advantage of.

Whilst currently Sir Michael Somare has, “stepped aside pending a formal inquiry in to official misconduct and corruption”, many in PNG are now pushing for complete investigations into his alleged corrupt activities, and in particular the reach of his involvement with Indonesian military figures.

These inquiries will necessarily delve into his alleged entwinement with Indonesian military businesses which have expanded extensively across the border into PNG, and involve among other things illegal logging, illegal mining, human trafficking, prostitution, and other alleged activities including PNG government involvement in human rights abuses by Indonesian personnel in both PNG and West Papua.

And once Somare’s activities are more publicly examined, we will most probably see profound change in the political dynamic of grassroots sympathy for the plight of West Papuans inside PNG.

Support for direct actions against Indonesian owned business interests inside PNG would then raise the spectre of TNI sending in security forces (in uniform) across the border (or putting uniforms on the very large number of TNI already in PNG) to defend those interests.

In theory this would be an action which should automatically activate Article 4 of the ANZUS Treaty (“an attack on one is an attack on all”) due to the curious unfinished constitutional arrangements Australia imposed on PNG upon independence in 1975.

Having personally conducted extensive investigations in the border areas of PNG and West Papua, the fear of repeated cross-border abuses still paralyses refugees, local villagers, and officials in the border region.

A quick flyover on Google Earth will show just how extensively Indonesian military run illegal logging and oil palm operations have encroached deep into PNG territory, with little attempt or capacity by PNG authorities to combat it. With less than 300 soldiers on the PNG side of a 750 km long border, and almost 40,000 TNI on the other, it is a matter of when, not if, the Indonesian military attempt to formalise their control over the area.

The Problem Of Impunity And The Military State

Indonesia regularly trumpets to the world that it is a vastly different place to that under Suharto. However, there is little evidence of change on the ground in Papua. Every week sees yet another atrocity or threat to a nonviolent activist, journalist, priest, or politically inactive civilian. Today’s victim is tomorrow’s activist.

In November, secret files sourced from the Indonesian special forces, Kopassus, were released by veteran journalist Allan Nairn . They showed the existence of military orders and planning that treats human rights workers, priests and representatives of Papuan civil society and the no-violent movement as military enemies (again shades of East Timor).

Granted there is a remote possibility that the Indonesian state will rein in its uncontrollable and rogue military; i.e. that it will hold all its human rights abusers to genuine account. But to base foreign policy on this remote possibility is deeply dangerous.

And bearing in mind the recent news (via Wikileaks) that Kopassus was making direct demands of the Obama administration (seeking a resumption of military training) in advance of the President’s recent visit to Indonesia – it is hard to believe that they are about to be reigned in.

Every week the international community sees more evidence of torture and atrocity being aired, yet still they sit on their hands. What is indicative is that nowhere in the exposure of the TNI and BRIMOB (Indonesian Police’s Mobile Brigade) misdeeds is there any evidence of comprehension by Jakarta that the actions of their agents are wrong and unacceptable for a nation-state that purports to be a modern democracy.

This is doubly troubling in that this clearly demonstrates the effect of impunity on the psyche of the modern Indonesian soldier. As they burn villages and torture civilians too many clearly quite sincerely believe that they are protecting the unity of Indonesia.

The current reality is that nobody in civilian administrations in Jakarta has had the guts to ever challenge the non-stop murderous rampage that has been the reign of the TNI in West Papua.

Occupation Must End – Directing The Anger

And so Papuans are angry. They are angry at the continuation of regular and unpunished human rights abuses in every corner of their land by the Indonesian state. Papuan people are angry at the tactics of state terror meted out daily for no reason other than to cause fear of the occupier.

They are angry and tired of being treated like stone-age people by an occupier that shows no evidence of even an understanding of civilised behaviour. They are sick of not having the ability to live unfettered in their own land, without it and its resources being stolen by colonial invaders. They are sick of their rivers being poisoned, their ancient forests being destroyed by marauders. They are sick of living as the poorest people in one of the richest lands on Earth.

West Papuan people have a right to be angry, and quite frankly, they also have a right to focus their anger on the greedy consumers in the West that are causing the destruction of their land.

But as 2010 draws to a close though the people on the ground in West Papua are not being bound by that anger – they are transforming it.

As a people that have known nothing but war and violence from brutal occupier for generations, Peace means a lot to the people of West Papua. And it is a peace that they know must be fought for, but not through violence.

New strategies are building on an increased commitment to a nonviolence, and the movement for justice in Papua is coalescing rapidly into a genuine mass movement for self-determination.

The Rise Of Peaceful Civil Resistance To Indonesian Rule

The rise of co-ordinated civil resistance to Indonesian rule has deep roots within the nonviolent struggle dating back to the late 1980s, but has only recently taken on mass character since the June 2010 mass mobilisations that occurred almost spontaneously across Papua. (See also…. Jason MacLeod’s “West Papua: from Morning Star to Mourning” at Werewolf.co.nz)

Last year, sectors of the Papuan civil society working for self-determination came together to form the West Papua National Consensus, to identify a clear pathway to getting the issue of West Papua to the negotiating table in Jakarta.

Whilst eventually agreeing that dialogue could only happen with the involvement of an independent third party mediator, Consensus agreed that the first step that needed to occur was a scientific evaluation and testing of all the conditions in Papua that Indonesia used to claim legitimacy.

Chief amongst these is the policy of Special Autonomy (Otsus), which was designed to give Papuans a greater voice in their economic and social affairs, and hand back the benefits of the exploitation of resources from the land to its people. Special Autonomy was granted to West Papua in the aftermath of events in East Timor by then President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Over the decade across wider Papuan society, differences of strategy had emerged between more vocal Pro-Otsus Papuans, and the majority of Papuan society who sought to establish a framework for the pathway toward a genuine act of self determination.

Then the rarely listened to and oft sidelined Majelis Rakyat Papua (MRP – or Papuan People’s Assembly) joined with the Papuan Consensus to conduct a Papua wide consultative process to evaluate the implementation of Otsus.

Across many months of consultations, the story they heard was the same all over West Papua: i.e. there was no material, social or justice benefit that flowed to Papuan people under the provisions of Otsus they were being implemented by the organised criminal elements in the TNI and BRIMOB.

To enable Papuans’ voices to be heard, these actors across Papuan Society joined with the largest indigenous Church in Papua, the Kingmi Church, and more conservative forces and NGOs who could not be politically aligned, to form ForDem, the Democratic Forum for Papuan People’s Resistance.

ForDem is consequently representative of a genuine national West Papuan majority consensus. (See also…. Jason MacLeod’s “West Papua: from Morning Star to Mourning” at Werewolf.co.nz)

Under ForDem all walks of Civil Society mobilised in unprecedented numbers in 2010 to formally send back Otsus to Jakarta. Massive rallies were held notably on June 18, and then on July 8-9 when mass rallies converged on the Papuan Parliament (DPRP).
Almost 60,000 demonstrators demanded that Jakarta institute immediate dialogue with West Papua civil society over all the conditions in Papua, rejected Otsus, and demanded Jakarta respect the right to self-determination by allowing a referendum to take place (as allowed by President Habibie in East Timor in 99).

Notably this final element in Consensus’ list of demands came after many stops and starts, and after much self-serving and sabotage from actors within exile groups. Putting aside years of acrimony, member organisations of the West Papua National Consensus and West Papua National Coalition for Liberation agreed to work together to achieve a referendum to determine the West Papua’s future.

This Papuan demand for a Referendum to determine the province’s future is not a pie in the sky demand. It comes from a deep seated understanding that this is the best solution to put to rest all claims of legitimacy of either party.

Indonesia currently refuses it, but once again that does not change the reality: that democratic choice is the only basis for peace, not military occupation against a permanently resistant population.

A Swarm Movement Takes Wing

It is important to understand that no one faction or sector in West Papua can claim dominance or leadership of this mass movement. This is not Congress in India and there is no single Gandhi figure. Rather, this is a movement with thousand’s of Gandhis.

And while there is consensus there is not necessarily agreement, but civil resistance is putting this aside to allow many different streams of action.

Many people in West Papua even belong to organisations in opposition to their own position, mainly due to the fact that many younger activists see organisational membership as a tool for continuance of struggle through dialogue and action.

In a unique Papuan twist it is this (undefinable aims) factor that has created the conditions for unity, a unity that allows for internal dissent, and vigorous discussion between groups whilst still working together for common goals.

A perfect example of this is an organisation such as the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a forum for creating space discussion and organising of nonviolent direct actions. Whilst certainly not the only sector providing this coordinating role (other notable players include activists from both West Papua National Authority, and student organisations ) KNPB has played a leading role, and is bringing together arguing groups on the street to get them to commit to common goals. At a higher level, this forum has been mirrored by the Consensus itself.

This has enabled a situation where the civil movement refuses to be based around a single leadership group, and instead features multitudes of groups and tribes all acting autonomously and independently (where everyone knows their role and works their hardest) but which is nevertheless unified under its collective goals.

This is the epitome of a political swarm movement enabling collective problem solving, providing populations under repression with both the flexibility and robustness needed for survival, but without requiring any centralised leadership or task allocation (and the targets these would create).

As a people close to nature, the natural environment routinely provides (at least subconsciously) political inspiration in Papua. And so working as a swarm is one of the most effective natural strategies for action on our planet, utilised by a majority of life on our Earth.

Such a swarm structure can occasionally present difficulties for those who cannot think outside traditional top-down strategies for national change. Rather than being shut out of dialogue by the game playing of unaccountable elites, this type of structure encourages a longer lasting peace by enabling all actors to have their voices heard.

It is also a natural strategy to employ in a nation where it is for the most part illegal to congregate in groups.

Not Noticed Abroad – Nor Back In Java

The international community is not the only sector that suffers from a complete failure to comprehend the magnitude and development of the Papua body politic.

Jakarta also fails to pay the attention it should to Papua for a variety of reasons, none the least being an entrenched colonial mindset that still clings to a seemingly racist belief that Papuans are unable to manage their own affairs.

To maintain this illusion Jakarta has deliberately sought out the most corrupt local officials, and -together with a mafia military that resists even Presidential orders to stop illegal business – creates military business fiefdoms in local regency who blame Papuans for stealing resources that are being actually being siphoned off by Javanese military elites!

When Papuan institutions examine these rorts – as was the case in June with the MPR’s examination of the failure of Special Autonomy which discovered widespread stealing of development funds from the Indonesian Treasury, Jakarta just refuses to listen.

Now even those Papuans who thought their best chances of moving forward lay with Jakarta are now disillusioned with the lessons that this process revealed. This is shown in the support of ForDem from a number of members of the Papuan Parliament who are the theoretical guardians of Otsus (Special Autonomy).

Jihadist/militia threats

With the rise of a co-ordinated body like ForDem, there is a serious danger now that leading figures will be assassinated, as Kopassus did to Chief Theys Eluay in 2000.

If this occurs, it is pretty much guaranteed that West Papuan people will react with anger. And thus the TNI will, as they always do, seek to provoke significant and widespread violence, including through the utilisation of militias in order to justify any crackdown.

Just like with East Timor and other trouble spots violated by Indonesian state violence, security forces maintain a close and unhealthy working relationship with both nationalist militias like Besar Merah Putih, Islamic nationalist militias like Laskar Jihad, and elements of banned terror networks. This is nothing new: since Indonesia’s founding the doctrine of Pertahanan Rakyat Semesta (Total People’s Defence) has seen civilians mobilised into militias to defend national unity.

These same militias are the ones that took over East Timor in the aftermath of the independence referendum in 1999.

In West Papua, TNI commanders have held several joint meeting with militia and known jihadist figures to recruit fighters against the ‘military threat’ of separatism. Regular and widely reported meetings have been held between security force commanders in Jayapura, Manokwari, Nabire and Wamena, militia commanders from BMP, LJ and Pemuda Pancasila, and the rectors of the universities in each city.

These have occurred in the lead-up to massive mobilisations by civil society, where state forces and their proxies have been exhorted to use all “necessary” measures to prevent demonstrations of separatism. Thankfully to-date the militias have been comprehensively out-numbered by the civil mobilisations and have retreated rather than attacked marchers.

Additionally, anecdotal evidence is continuing to emerge from Papua of the program of Islamisation and mosque building (especially around the Bird’s Head Peninsula in the north west of Papua) with foreign Wahhabist funding enabled through organisation such as Muhummadiyah, the largest mass Islamic organisation in the world. The Muhummadiyah is generally utilised as a vehicle for Indonesian elite political ambitions, especially currently under the stewardship of Amien Rais.

There are two distinct trends in active Islamism as it relates to Papua.

One is the groups advocating violent Jihad to protect Islam, groups that are significantly close to senior figures in the Indonesian military.

The other is of course the “moderate I’syalom” movement, epitomised by indigenous Papuan Muslim groups, Nahdlatul Ulama (Formerly led by the late President Abdurrahman Wahid – who was removed from office by Kopassus after his peacebuilding efforts with Papua in 2000), and organisations such as the Islamic Student’s Association.

This tendency is bucking the trend of misunderstandings leading to violence and working directly to counter the militaristic nationalism pushed by the TNI proxies through ecumenical dialogue and volunteer aid projects

Lasting Security For The Pacific and SEA?

If the democratic nations of South East Asia and the Pacific were genuine about lasting security, it would understand that we have about 200 million natural allies in Indonesia and 2 million in West Papua.

And if we help the people of Indonesia and Papua get the military Hanuman monkey off its back, then they will stand with us, like they always have.

But if we let the military run around with its hard drinking Jihadist thugs, instead we will see havoc and intensifying violence, staining us all with the blood of innocents. The international community has got to wake up to the fact that terrorists is uniform are still terrorists and that criminals who command prisons are still criminals.

Indeed if we allow those who perpetrate fear and violence to force a population to change its policies then we succumb to the very definition of terrorism (US Penal Code).

Even the former Indonesian President, the late Abdurrahman Wahid, described the military as an out of control terror network. Wahid was quoted extensively describing the “fear that senior officers (of the TNI) are involved heavily in terror networks.”

Text (SMS) Terror In West Papua

In late October, a series of SMS text messages were widely distributed purporting to be from the head of the Laskar Jihad network, an Islamic Nationalist militia that has been heavily documented working closely with Indonesian military in Maluku, Poso and Aceh.

The texts said that the Christians were threatening the Islamic character of the Land of Papua and that 16 million rupiah would be paid to anyone that brought in the head of a “slain Nazarene”.

It was very clear that this SMS text campaign originated from military intelligence, as it showed very clear correlations to their prior dark work in Maluku prior to the religious war at the turn of the 21st century.

West Papua Media was also sent these SMS’s in attempt to utilise us to spread panic, but working together with many key actors in civil society and faith communities (both Muslim and Christian) and human rights workers, we organised a response that showed that as these “fear and panic” provokasi campaigns were utilised increasingly, every campaign would be countered with equally effective ecumenical peace-building and emergency interfaith dialogue mechanisms.

People on the ground in Papua, both trans-migrant Indonesians and indigenous Papuans, may be living in fear of the next type of military terror, but they are not stupid. This augers well for the failure of “organic” militia violence, however this also the reason why so many newcomers are still being brought into West Papua enmasse on Pelni ships almost daily.

Black Ops Such As The Recent Shootings Of Indonesian Transmigrants

Since the end of November, several incidents have been recorded of Indonesian transmigrants being randomly shot in the areas of Jayapura, Abepura and Sentani, usually whilst on motorbikes in outlying areas.

There is still only sparse information as to the culprits, which is surprising given the amount of police involvement in the case. However there is a wide belief amongst locals that this is not the work of Papuan forces (as this is a new tactic unsupported by the mass movement). Rather many believe this bears striking similarities to years of “ninja” attacks on Papuans on motorbikes in the northern border region during 2005-06, widely believed to be the work of Javanese terror squads (aka Kopassus).

Responses (1): Speaking Up To Evil

Evil is such an overused and polarising word, but it is the only adequate word that describes the Jakarta generals. They have no concern for human life, they are unreformable, they are completely unaccountable, and are like vultures feasting on carrion.

The international community needs to stop being cowardly and tell Jakarta that if it wants to take its place amongst the civilised nations of the world, then it has to start acting like it. It must be made clear to Jakarta that the behaviour of its security forces as state policy is completely uncivilised and unacceptable.

It is about time the international community faced up to facts – the only way to trust the Indonesian military is stop giving them arms, training, legitimacy, and to put each one of the criminals among them in the dock under Nuremburg principles.


Shooting victim Melkias Agapa – shot dead by BRIMOB in Nabire in June 2009


Melkias Agapa’s body is presented to the riot police

Responses (2): Safeguarding Community Security

Sectors of West Papuan Civil Society have taken extraordinary measures to provide safe space for peaceful free expression, a right which Jakarta seems unable to comprehend in Papua.

The Papua Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua or DAP), a leading member of Consensus, formed the Guardians of the Land of Papua (Petapa) in July, after a series of violent incidents carried out by security forces and transmigrant militia members. They have had been providing a visible peacekeeping security presence for mobilisations on peaceful demonstrations, which though allowed under Indonesian law are almost always dispersed with force by security forces.

Whilst they have been trained in physical self defence, a significant part of Petapa’s training has been on non-violent conflict resolution. Petapa are not mandated by DAP to be anything but a defensive security guard.

This did not stop the police Mobile Brigade (BRIMOB) from shooting dead Amos Wetipo and Frans Lokobal whilst trying to seek shelter from indiscriminate police shooting at the DAP Balim Lapago office about 1 km from the police station.

Petapa will be providing security for almost all mobilisations right across Papua in the future. However it is unlikely the Indonesian state will allow any community security in opposition to the police and their actions will create another potential trigger for violence across Papua.

Responses (3): Free Media = Free People

Due to the ongoing ban by Indonesia for international media and humanitarian organisations having access to Papua, allegations of abuse are notoriously difficult to verify.

In a joint conference with then Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, the former Indonesian Foreign Minister, Hasan Wirajuda, famousely said “just because we do not allow foreign media to come to Papua, does not mean that we are hiding anything”. Actually, yes it does.

However while this ban remains in place, only the most dedicated journalists make the effort to go in undercover.

West Papua Media has been proud to facilitate undercover trips into occupied territory to meet with many West Papuan people prepare to tell their own story. This is getting more difficult by the day so local people are working for a solution.

Live images, video and online activism have the potential to create tremendous momentum in the awareness of the situation inside Papua, and have certainly already created much international action.

By creating their own media, and their own narrative, Papuan people are reclaiming self-determination denied for so long.

Very occasionally West Papua does get in the news, but only through the co-ordination between committed journalists and human rights workers working together.

The network I work with, West Papua Media (WestPapuaMedia.Info), was started to provide a professional service to international media interested in covering the issue of West Papua.

In particular we seek to cover the moves of the Papuan people to end human rights abuses, the efforts to hold the Indonesian security forces to account for their systematic human rights abuses, and to bring these unreported Papuan issues to the front page.

We have been taking a leading role in the hard work n raising the profile of West Papua this year, with significant joint investigations that have broken several major stories this year, and we have gained deep trust from the people of Papua in reporting their stories.

West Papuan citizen media played a key role in alerting the world to deeply heinous cases of abuse.

One was the sourcing, verification and release of deeply shocking leaked videos of Indonesian military brutality filmed by Kostrad (Strategic Reserve) troops from Battalion 753 torturing two West Papuan farmers, Tunaliwor Kiwo and Telengga Gire, burning Kiwo’s penis with a flaming stick.


Tunaliwor Kiwo

(Click Here To Download .flv file – full uncut version)


Tunaliwor Kiwo’s Torture
The other was footage of Indonesian BRIMOB police taunting a former political prisoner Yawan Wayeni, whom they had allegedly disembowelled moments before after he argued with them.

Both these videos showed the power of citizen media in activating international human rights networks to effectively raise the issue of Papua.

There are many more videos in preparation for release.

After the release of the torture videos (Click Here To Download .flv file – full uncut version), West Papua Media was the first of five organisations subjected to a massive, organised Distributed Denial of Service cyber-attack (DDOS), which investigating agencies have classified as an act of cyber-terrorism.

Since then we have had to spend a great deal of time and money to make our systems resistant to further acts of aggression. However, these attacks only increased our resolve to keep working harder to expose Indonesian abuses in Papua.

Media Exposure Works On July 9 2010

Some of our real time work has assisted directly in the prevention of mass acts of violence by the Indonesian security forces, such as our coverage and media advocacy fixing of the July 8-9 occupation of the regional Parliament House.

With less than ten minutes before the deadline for dispersal of the 2 day rally of over 45,000 people, the Indonesian security forces were forced to back down after a BBC report aired, organised by West Papua Media Alerts, which brought international attention the explosively dangerous situation.

Extensive international diplomacy occurred in that 15 minutes, and together with the extreme discipline of the mass protest, forced Indonesian security to back down and enabled the protestors to peaceably leave the scene of the protest.

The Australian government- pressured by negative media reports via the Fairfax and ABC in Australia – have been forced to take some limited action on the issue in recent weeks.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd this week was set to raise with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalagewa the issue of prosecuting TNI officers suspected of torture of Tunaliwor Kiwo.

And to give some wider credit, Australian PM Julia Gillard was also seen showing concern and displeasure at President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the lack of progress in holding military to account for the crimes.

More importantly, Gillard has spoken forcefully about the lack of transparency at the trials, and the fact that the Indonesian prosecutors turned the apparent accountability exercise into a red herring.

Instead of a real trial a stacked military court tried different perpetrators for a different violation; abuse much milder than the Kiwo torture.

The military judge lectured the defendant’s not on the criminality of the abuse they had committed, but on the shame they had brought on the TNI by shooting the torture on video and not destroying the evidence! (Click Here To Download .flv file – full uncut version)

This incident neatly captures why the Indonesian military cannot be trusted to reform themselves from the inside.

As an easier and clearer step towards a solution, if the international community is serious about stopping brutality, it will help develop the capacity of the West Papuan media to tell the story of what is going on, and press Jakarta hard to allow international media access.

Responses (4): The Role Of The Pacific & New Zealand

Countries in the Pacific, especially New Zealand, can and should push hard for measurable cessation of human security violations by the Indonesian state and all its proxies.

New Zealand has many forums in which to achieve this, and could play a very constructive and peace-building role just as they did in Bougainville and East Timor.

There is a strong role for New Zealand to play in direct bilateral talks, through ASEAN, APEC and even by becoming involved in the existing EU/Norway/Indonesia annual Human Rights dialogue.

And should the West Papuan ForDem movement achieve its goal of direct dialogue with Jakarta, the movement wants an external third party present at those talks – New Zealand could be that party (even it seems very unlikely at this point in time).

Most importantly it is critical that during this year’s Pacific Island Forum to be held in New Zealand, that it utilises this unique opportunity to highlight the epicentre of Human Rights abuse and Environmental degradation in the region.

Whether NZ decides to do the right thing and help to stop genocide, or not, is certainly NZ’s choice.

However if NZ doesn’t stand up to its responsibilities it risks being seen in the same light as the Australian Government which has been turning a blind eye while its corporate giants pad their annual profit reports with the plundered resources of a vulnerable and defenceless neighbouring indigenous nation.

Whatever country decides to take the initiative will be seen as a country that is a leader in what the planet needs the most: countries prepared to act for principle and decency, to help broker peace.

As we approach the resumption of mass-civil action in West Papua a bloodbath can likely only be avoided if the international community immediately stops sitting on its hands and pulls its head out of the sand.

Pacific countries must start to act now to make it clear that not only the world is watching, but it will be taking action. Without a concerted stand to resist Indonesian state violence, the situation will spiral out of control. There are significant economic tactics, which may hurt collaborators of human rights abuse, but at the end of the day, are Pacific countries more comfortable with subsiding genocide and ecocide, or helping to prevent the annihilation of a people?

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Nick Chesterfield is the founding editor of West Papua Media , and is a human rights journalist with extensive experience of the Papua issue, and has conducted many field investigations in the West Papuan region since 1999. He has been involved in refugee protection, advocacy, as a human rights and citizen media worker and trainer. Since 1999, Chesterfield has been intimately involved with the Papua issue, after several years with the Indonesian pro-democracy, and East Timor freedom movements. Initially involved as an activist, and noticed by those who do not wish for the Papua activists to distribute their news, Chesterfield’s first journeys there necessarily saw him underground on mission. He collected abuse data, worked to build local capacity for doing so independently, and to assist in the escape of hunted non-violent activists to safer places.
Together with citizen media and human rights workers from inside Papua, Chesterfield helped set up West Papua Media in 2008, to counter the wilful lack of coverage by the international media.