Sorong, Jubi – Residents in Salfi Sub-district of Sorong South Regency rejected the local government’s plan to invite a palm oil plantation company to their area, said Customary Council community leaders.
“We absolutely reject it, because it would affect to the sustainability of our dense forest,” the Secretary of Sekanoi Customary Council Simson Sremere said. He further said the palm oil plantation would threat and damage the forest sustainability in their customary area.
“In addition, the deforestation for the palm oil plantation could threaten the habitat of various animals in our forest,” he said.
The presence of a palm oil company could have an adverse effect on the local economy and marginalise the local community as the company would tend to hire migrant employees.
Meanwhile, a youth leader from Sayal Vilalge, Maikel Ajamsaru asked the South Sorong Government to decline the MoU with the major investment companies who threat the ecosystem within other regions in South Sorong Regency. “Local government must review some agreements with the future investment companies,” Ajamsaru said. (Nees Makuba/rom)
The 5,500 ton shipment was destined for Amurang in North Sulawesi, to be used as feedstock in a coal-fired power station there. The mining company mentioned in the article was PT Megapura Prima Indah.
According to the Lensa Papua article “Although the coal produced which is now being loaded into the ship with a weight of 5,500 tons is not yet super-high quality, it is strongly believed that the quality of this coal will increase in the future.”
Although Papua is not facing the same amount of threat from coal mining as East and Central Kalimantan, there are nevertheless several areas under active exploration. As well as around Sorong, there is a huge area from Bintuni and Teluk Wondama stretching to near Nabire, several areas around Sarmi and Waropen, plus significant amounts in Fakfak and Mimika Regencies, as well along a band where the southern lowlands meet the central mountains around Yahukimo. From the latest data awasMIFEE has been able to get hold of (a map of mining concessions up to 2012), there were 115 coal concessions covering a total area of more than 3.5 million hectares!
Of course the actual coal mines would be smaller than these exploration concessions, but nevertheless, it is clear that the coal industry in Papua could be considerable in the future. Just as with plantations, gold mining, and oil and gas, the potential for conflict and human rights violations associated with this industry is also impossible to ignore.
Indonesian police in Sorong, West Papua, yesterday arrested four leading Papuan customary leaders for organising a welcome celebration and prayer for the safe arrival of the Aboriginal-led Freedom Flotilla, currently sailing from Australia.
The four were arrested after over 200 armed police surrounded a peaceful prayer gathering at Marantha Church in central Sorong yesterday afternoon, after thousands of local people joined with religious and adat (customary) leaders, and leaders of the self-declared National Federated Republic of West Papua (NFRPB) alternative government, to express their solidarity with the aims of the Freedom Flotilla. The Freedom Flotilla is a journey being conducted with Aboriginal and West Papuan elders and Australian activists to highlight internationally the human rights situation in West Papua and is currently enroute sailing from Australia to West Papua.
Internationally renowned environmental defender, researcher and customary leader, NFRPB Sorong secretary Yohanis Goram, was arrested together with Apolos Sewa (Vice chair of Dewan Adat Papua, Greater Sorong), Amandus Mirino (NFRPB State Secretariat senior worker), and Samuel Klasjok (NFRPB’s alternative Chief of Police (Security) for region 3, Doberay). Sorong Police Chief Harry Goldenhad met with the organisers of the gathering, and initially “approved the activities with the proviso that they did not disturb the peace, and maintained security,” according to witnesses statements provided by established credible sources to West Papua Media.
Over 2000 people had gathered for the solidarity event that spilled outside the large church compound.
About 45 minutes after the prayer meeting had finished, as participants were preparing for a press conference with local media including such as Radar Sorong, West Papua Post, and Fajar Papua, Police Chief Goldenhad took ten heavily armed officers into the church and arrested the four activists.
According to local sources who spoke with police and activists, Based on information collected on site, the arrests were made in connection with the unfurling of the Morning Star, Aboriginal, and Torres Straits flags inside the church.
The four activists are still being held at Sorong Police headquarters according to local sources, and their condition is unknown. However grave fears are held for their safety, as these are the first West Papuans to be arrested over a connection to the Freedom Flotilla, which has attracted significant international media interest, and ignited major controversy and comment from Indonesian and Australian government ministers.
International human rights organisations have reacted quickly to the arrests, with Amnesty International (AI) in London expressing concern about the arrests of the four Papuan political activists. AI’s Indonesia and Timor-Leste Campaigner, Josef Benedict said that AI “believes they have been arrested and detained solely for their peaceful political activism and call for their immediate and unconditional release.”
“Amnesty International calls on the Indonesian authorities to respect the rights of Papuans to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly which are guaranteed in Article 19 and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party. Our organisation is concerned that the Indonesian government has consistently failed to make a distinction between violent armed groups and peaceful activists, and between peaceful expression of opinion and acts of physical violence, ” Benedict told West Papua Media by email.
Activists on board the Freedom Flotilla have reacted with dismay at the news of their supporters being targeted inside West Papua, but say this highlights the daily denial of Freedom of Expression for Papuan people, that originally motivated their plans for direct action.
Ronny Kareni, the spokesperson for the Freedom Flotilla said “It is shocking and yet not surprising, but completely unacceptable in this day and age that peaceful demonstrations of basic freedom of expression is censored in such an extreme way. We demand the immediate release of the 4 prisoners in Sorong.”
Kareni explained, “The arrests yesterday of the four Papuan leaders are a reflection of the reality that there is no space for democracy in Papua and West Papua Province under the Indonesian occupation, and yet foreign governments are complicit to these ongoing abuses. The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua is aiming to highlight this entrenched long-term brutality that is demonstrated by these arrests.
Arabunna elder, Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, the elder who inspired the journey, said in a statement to West Papua Media, “Indonesian government – you must immediately release those 4 prisoners and not to harm them in any way. They need to be released and not to be harmed because they have not committed a crime. We felt very sad when we seen it in the news today. We are waiting for the other mob to turn up here on Horne Island so we can work out how to respond a bit more but for now we need to ask all Australians to take a firm position on this issue, to be strong for Human Rights in West Papua. They are hurting them everyday, for years and regardless of the Freedom Flotilla this is happening, but we having a go, tryin’ to get the World to see, to look and listen and take a stand for these people. The Papuans have had it rough for too long with Indonesia there and this can’t keep going on. The prisoners must be released immediately”.
Izzy Brown, one of the organisers of the Freedom Flotilla said: “We are dismayed to hear that the peaceful act of prayer has resulted in such extreme actions by the police and military in West Papua, highlighting once more the lack of basic human rights and freedoms that we in Australia take for granted every day. We need immediate international pressure to be placed on the Indonesian government to ensure that no harm comes to these good people who have simply undertaken to express themselves in a democratic way.:
Kareni sums up the feeling of Flotilla members: “This is the time Australia, to stand up for people who are being militarily controlled and attacked for simply trying to have a voice.”
Seven Papuan fisherman were shot by members of the TNI (Indonesian army) near Pulau Papan district, Misol Perairan Raja Apat, West Papua. It is not clear why they were shot, but one TNI soldier is now being questioned by POM, the military police in Puncak Rafidin.The commander of 1704/Sorong, Lieut-Col. Rachman Zulkarnain refused to make any comment about the incident but he did not deny that a TNI solider was being interrogated by the military police. They were still trying to find out more about those responsible for the shooting. ‘I want the process to continue , until we can decide who should be charged for the incident,’ said Zulkarnain.
A spokesman for the Cenderawasih XVII military command also said that a member of the army is being interrogated intensively by POM. The matter must be handled through legal channels, he said. He said that the commander would ensure that the person responsible would be firmly dealt with.
The spokesman also said that the person who did the shooting was thought to be a member of Babinsa Koramil (low level military command personnel ) and one of those responsible has been identified as Praka BJ.
Head of public relations of the military command, I Gede Sumerta Jaja told the press that the case was still being investigated, while attention was at present concentrated on finding one of the victims.
One of the victims is at present being treated at Sorong Hospital but he is not yet fit enough to be asked to make a statement. ‘We must respect his rights and not try to force him to make a statement,’ he said.
The bodies of four of the victims were discovered in a state of decomposition on Wednesday, La Nuni, 55, La Jaka, 30, La Edi, 20 and La Diri, 20. A fifth victim , La Ful, 13 is still being sought by a TNI/Police unit. The bodies were under water for almost a week but officials were able to identify them when they were found.
Two other fisherman have also been found alive and are now being treated in hospital.
A representative of the military police met the families of the victims and members of South Sulawesi Families Association to continue with the process of identifying all the victims to finalise the process of identification and then moving them away from the area. The Association has called on the military command to make a statement, following information that indicated that the military and police were responsible for the shooting but the military have as yet failed to clarify the case. A spokesman of the Association said that they were still trying find other victims of the shooting.
A joint report released today by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM-Papua) provides important insight into the ongoing debate on steps required to achieve a sustainable peace in Papua.
Based on more than 100 interviews carried out in 2011 in the districts of Sorong, Manokwari, Biak, and Paniai, the report reviews Papua’s recent history, including the Special Autonomy Law governing the relationship between the Papua province and Indonesia, within a transitional justice framework. It also reveals new information provided in testimonies by victims and witnesses who experienced human rights violations going back to the earliest days of Indonesia’s history as a nation.
“Even as we were conducting this research, new outbreaks of violence and cases of gross human rights violations continued to take place,” said Ferry Marisan, director of ELSHAM. “We interviewed more than 100 victims, many of whom have deep feelings of distrust that are deeply rooted in the past and present experiences of human rights abuse. Official acknowledgement of this violent past is a prerequisite to building peace in Papua,” he added.
“Unless these grievances are not only recognized, but also addressed in a practical way, reconciliation will remain elusive”
Unless these grievances are not only recognized, but also addressed in a practical way, reconciliation will remain elusive. A comprehensive transitional justice strategy could provide effective redress, and should include truth-seeking, criminal accountability, reparations, institutional reform to prevent recurrence of human rights violations, and a focus on the rights of indigenous women.
“The Indonesian government must urgently develop a comprehensive policy for dealing with this legacy of past violations. We are at risk of repeating the past through using force to deal with unrest, instead of opening a process of genuine dialogue. The first step is acknowledgment,” said Galuh Wandita, ICTJ’s senior associate.
This joint report by ICTJ and the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM-Papua) provides important insight into the ongoing debate on steps required to achieve a sustainable peace in Papua. The report reviews Papua’s recent history within a transitional justice framework, and provides expert recommendations on truth seeking, justice, reparations, institutional reform, and enforcing the rights of women victims. Based on more than 100 interviews carried out in 2011 in the districts of Sorong, Manokwari, Biak, and Paniai, the report reviews Papua’s recent history, including the Special Autonomy Law governing the relationship between the Papua province and Indonesia, within a transitional justice framework.