Tag Archives: West Papua National Coalition for Liberation

Papuan People need not be afraid to talk about Independence

Bintang Papua,6 January 2011Papuans Needn’t be Afraid to Talk about Merdeka-Independence

Biak: A human rights lawyer and advocate has reminded the Papuan people that they needn’t be afraid  to talk about independence for Papua because independence for Papua is a basic human rights  that is legally recognised  and can be fought for by legal, democratic and political means. ‘I say this because  the 1945 Constitution guarantees these rights,’ said Yan Christian Warinussy, executive-director of LP3BH-Manokwari.

He said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People also guarantee these rights. He went on to say that  Papua Merdeka  is the political aspiration of the majority of the Papuan people which must be fought for  by peaceful,dgnfied and democratic means through universal legal and political mechanisms. All components of the Papuan people should unite  and discuss the various developments that provide the background for these aspirations of the Papuan people and should reach agreement on the issues that they should discuss in the context of a Papua-Indonesian dialogue.

The aspiration for Papua Merdeka must be used as the basis in every discussion which should at all times be based on the basic issues that were  agreed upon at the Papuan Peace Conference held from 5 – 7 July 2011 which included political, security, legal issues as well as basic human rights, and social, cultural, economic and environmental rights. He said that these issues were drawn up as the necessary steps towards the Papua-Indonesia Dialogue, with a recommendation about five people as negotiators agreed upon at the people’s conference. A declaration on a peaceful Papua was also agreed  upon as the guidance at the Papuan Peace Congress which was held from 16 – 19 October 2011 in Zacheus-Padang Bulan field, Abepura. Forkorus Yaboisembut was elected as the head, with Edison Waromi as the prime minister and all this was adopted as the strategic position of the  Papuan people on their way forward to the Dialogue.

Other components that were included were the OPM, the Papuan Presidium Council, the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, the West Papua National Authority, the National Youth Committee  the military wing, the TPN-PB, as well as other organisations in the Land of Papua and overseas*.   He expressed the hope that all these components would come together  and draw up an agenda for this struggle  in a systematic and responsible way, using legal and political mechanisms that are universally recognised. ‘Papuans need not be afraid to talk about their independence,’ he said.

{*West Papua Media note: this list of supporting organisations is referring to the Papua Peace Network meetings, and not to the 3rd Papuan People’s Congress at Zacheus Field: this Congress was not supported by all sectors of the resistance movement including the TPN-OPM and KNPB as they asserted it did not go far enough}

He also said that the Dewan Adat Papua – Customary Papuan Council – would be the people’s organisation that would unite all the various components in the Papuan struggle, in response to the aspirations of the Papuan people

He warned the security forces in the region not to stand in the way of the Papuan people or try to infiltrate the Papuan people in order to prevent them from freely using legal procedures and mechanisms  based on the 1945 Constitution and Law 39/1999 [on human rights] as well as other human rights documents in the course of their discussions on their political rights  in the Land of Papua.

West Papuan leader urges peaceful defiance in the lead-up to December 1st

Papuan Leaders take a sit in floor of Papuan Police Prison. From left to right each of them; Edsison Waromi SH (Prime Minister), Forkorus Yaboisembut S.Pd ( President Republic Federal State of West Papua), Dominikus Surabut ( Aktivist)), Gad Wenda (Aktivist ), Agus Senandy Kraar (Aktivist ) and Selpius Bobii (Chair of Orginizing Commettee of Third National Papua Congress). (Photo: West Papua Media)

30 November 2011

Exclusive interview by Alex Rayfield (New Matilda) with West Papua Media

The President of the Federal Republic of West Papua may be behind bars, he may have been savagely beaten by the Indonesian police, but he has not been silenced. From his 5×4 meter cell in the bowels of the Jayapura Police Station – quarters he shares with five other Papuans also charged with rebellion against the Indonesian state – Forkorus Yaboisembut recently issued a rousing call to action smuggled out of prison.

“To all the Papuan people” Yaboisembut writes, “don’t be afraid to celebrate December 1st, whether you do so simply, or as part of large gatherings. Do not be afraid because we, the Papuan people, do not intend to destroy any country; we only wish to defend our political rights.”

Our interview, the first – clandestine – interview with Western media, may be constrained by time and space, but I can picture the tribal elder from previous meetings. He is a quietly spoken man, late in years but strong and alert. He walks tall, sits up straight and dresses neatly in long dark pants; polished slip-on shoes and patterned but subdued crisply ironed business shirts. His short hair and longish grey beard gives him the look of an Old Testament prophet, grandfatherly if you like.

It is painful to think that he when he was arrested on October 19 he was tortured so badly that he could barely sit down – or stand. Dominikus Surabut, from the West Papua Council of Customary Tribal Chiefs, who was detained with the man who is now the President of the Federal Republic of West Papua and who was also badly tortured, tells me that when Mr Yaboisembut was arrested the Police beat him mercilessly with a rifle butt, raining blows down on his head and crashing their weapons into his solar plexus. In a widely published Indonesian language account of the arrest, a religious leader said that an Indonesian soldier was ready to shot him dead but was urged not to by a policeman.

West Papuan’s political rights, Mr Yaboisembut says, are inalienable. “Whether you take the United Nations founding document, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights or even the Indonesian Constitution as your starting point, Papuans have the right to self-determination.”

Forkorus Yaboisembut S.Pd and , Edison Waromi,SH

“The preamble to the 1945 Indonesian Constitution mentions expressly, that independence is the right of all Nations, and because of this colonialism must be swept away, it is consistent with the principles of justice and humanity. Consequently, the people of Papua cannot be blamed in accordance with any law for wanting to celebrate their national day.”

These ideas, the same ideas that inspired Indonesians to liberate themselves from Dutch rule, are igniting the imagination of entire generation who yearn to be free. What makes Mr Yaboisembut’s ideas even more extraordinary is that he is urging an insurrection that grounded in what he calls “human dignity”.

“December the first 2011, is the fiftieth anniversary of when Papuans first raised the Morning Star flag. It is our golden anniversary, the year of God’s liberation” he says evoking the images of the ancient Jewish custom of Jubilee – of freeing captives and erasing debts. “It must be celebrated in an atmosphere of peace, safety and calm”.

“To Papuans, I therefore say, do not carry out acts of terror, intimidation or commit violence of any kind towards anyone, for whatever reason, whether they are Papuan or migrants.

“Do not be afraid,” Mr Yaboisembut repeats, “God is with us.”

Papuan leaders are standing infront; Forkorus Yaboisembut S.Pd, Edsison Waromi SH .behind Dominikus Surabut, Gad Wenda, Agus Senandy Kraar and Selpius Bobii (Photos: West Papua Media)

“The roots of our oppression is political” says Mr Selphius Bobii, Chair of the Committee of the Third Papuan Congress, who also shares a cell with Mr Yaboisembut and Surabut. “The annexation of our country by Indonesia and the acquiescence of the international community has resulted in state sanctioned human rights violations and creeping genocide.”

Those arrested on October 19 in the wake of the Third Papuan Congress are not backing down from the declaration of independence. “We are committed to using people power, diplomacy and the law to achieve our rights” Bobii tells me.

Dominikus Surabut says that he and the other prisoners are refusing to sign police statements charging them with “rebellion” (makar) under sections 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

“We have done nothing wrong” Surabut says. “We have a political right to declare independence. We do not seek to destroy Indonesia or any other country. On the contrary, it is the Indonesia state that has attacked us.”

How can it be, they rhetorically ask, that the Indonesian police get written warnings for killing Papuans when Papuan activists nonviolently exercising their rights to freedom of expression are beaten and jailed?

Is this the same country that Obama and Gillard lauded for being a beacon of democracy?

In a widely published letter in support of Papuan political prisoners Human Rights Watch says that the articles under which the six Papuan political prisoners arrested after the Third Papuan Congress have been charged “are a legacy from the Dutch colonial era”. Charging nonviolent activists with rebellion is “in violation of the Indonesian Constitution, Articles 28(e) and 28(f) which respectively afford “the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion,” and “the right to communicate and obtain information for the development of his/her personal life and his/her social environment, and shall have the right to seek, acquire, possess, keep, process and convey information by using all available channels.”

The charge of rebellion is also inconsistent with Indonesia’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Indonesia ratified in 2006, a point which the jailed Papuan leaders make repeatedly to me. Besides, the Papuan leaders sigh, we have been left with no other option. “Special Autonomy has totally failed and even the MRP, a state institution convened a meeting which came up with eleven recommendations, one of which was to hold the Third Papuan Congress.”

Outside their police cell, in the streets of the cities and towns of West Papua, in the cloud covered mountains and on the coconut palm fringed coasts a new political consensus is emerging. This consensus has been forged not through endless meetings of the Diaspora, nor in stillborn discussions with political elites in Jakarta, nor in the conference halls of NGO deliberations, but in the furnace of political action. It is simply this: that West Papua must be free.

After the Congress three overlapping political groupings have emerged: the Papuan Peace Network who is calling for political dialogue, the West Papua National Committee who demands a referendum, and the Papua Congress leaders (supported by a loose alliance made up of the West Papua National Authority, the Council of Customary Papuan Chiefs, the Presidium Dewan Papua, and the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation).

The killings of nonviolent Papuans by the Indonesian police and military on October 19 have divided ordinary Indonesians, flushing out ultra-nationalists and their racist discourse, and outraging political moderates longing for a different kind of future than the one left to them by former dictator Suharto.

Inside Papua the massacre appears to be having a unifying effect, although Papuan politics remains complex affair. The West Papua National Committee who opposed the Congress later marched in support of the six political prisoners. Father Neles Tebay, respected intellectual and leader of the Papua Peace Network has intensified the demand for political dialogue. It is a call that has been supported by Yaboisembut and others. “All Papuans, wherever they are must respect the dialogue process democratically initiated through the Papuan Peace Conference and the Papuan Peace Network” wrote Mr Yaboisembut in a message smuggled out of prison.

Whether the Indonesian police and military act in a similarly dignified manner, or not, remains to be seen.

As I write this a long-term Papuan human rights activist sends me this message: “there’s an increase of military patrol of soldiers around Jayapura Township.” Some put the numbers as high as forty thousand. Reports are filtering in of troop surges in Sorong, Paniai (where gunshots have been heard), the border region and Jayapura.

“The atmosphere here is quiet but eerie” my friend writes. We are all waiting to see what December 1 will bring.

Pacific cannot be truly free until West Papua is free, say activists

From our partners at Pacific Media Centre

West Papuan protesters demonstrate at Auckland University when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a speech. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Asia-Pacific Journalism, Pacific Media Centre

14 September, 2011

Henry Yamo

Free West Papua” … the Pacific isn’t free until West Papua is free. That is the four-decades-old West Papuan slogan that reverberated for a week as the Pacific islands countries gathered for the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum in New Zealand.

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Dr John Ondawame from the West Papua People’s Representative Office in Vanuatu says: “Our call to the leaders of all Pacific countries is to support the West Papua peoples’ call for peace talks between the government of Indonesia and the people of West Papua.”

Pacific leaders must remember that the Pacific will never be free unless West Papua is free from the current oppression and atrocities that have lasted for more than 40 years caused by the Indonesian government, he says.

Dr Ondawame says their concerns are voiced particularly to their Melanesian neighbour countries to call on the government of Indonesia to take decisive decision on suggested peace talks and recommend a Forum fact-finding mission to West Papua.

“We are calling as Melanesian brothers and are very keen to meet with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu who has indicated to support our call,” he says.

“We also want to lobby with leaders from other Melanesian and Pacific countries to support Vanuatu when it raises the West Papua,” he said.

Fundamental right
The member for Te Tai Tokerau electorate and founding leader of the Mana Party in New Zealand, Hone Harawira, says he supports the cause of West Papuans because freedom is a fundamental right.

“As Pacific islanders we can only be totally free if West Papuans who are also from the Pacific are completely free from the current oppression,” says Harawira.

Jo Collins ... abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry  Yamo / PMC

Jo Collins … abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

This was reinforced by the spokesperson for the Australian West Papua Association, Joe Collins, who says the Forum has to realise the abuses have been going on for many years and will not go away.

“People get shot or get burnt; tortures are carried out publicly on the streets so that it creates fear among the people.  The level of spying on West Papuans is very high, starting in villages and into towns and cities,” he says.

West Papua is one of the last conflict areas in the Pacific region. The international and Pacific governments should pay more attention to the level of torture and atrocities being experienced by the people.

Dr Ondawame says the freedom of West Papua is a Pacific issue that has received “embarrassingly  little” attention from Pacific countries while the United States and United Kingdom have made their position clear, calling for constructive and peaceful dialogue.

“At least Melanesian countries must act and we are pleased that Vanuatu is the only country that has come forward to firmly support the aspirations and independence of West Papua while our very close neighbour PNG has been silent and has been working closely with Indonesia,” he says.

Call for UN action
The United Nations cannot do much with human rights issues in West Papua unless Pacific Island countries unite and call for UN action.

Rex Rumakiek ... seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Rex Rumakiek … seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPCNL) Rex Rumakiek says: “West Papua has been part of the Pacific since the establishment of the South Pacific Commission and also as founding member of the Pacific Conference of Churches set up in 1956.

“And so it is timely for our Pacific brothers to adhere to our concerns when the opportunity arose. We are here to seek that support.”

Rumakiek says the people of West Papua will continue to take up the call until a peaceful solution to the problems is found, ending the shameful atrocities encountered.

Meanwhile, activist Paula Makabory says their struggle is not a fight against the Indonesian government but also against imperialism and neo-colonialism.  It is about being Melanesian within Indonesia.

“Shouting West Papua or free West Papua or even displaying the West Papua flag in West Papua has landed people in jail for 15-20 years or have been beaten very badly that some eventually succumb to their injuries.”

She says even though Indonesia has rectified civil and political rights under the UN treaty, West Papuans are constantly under military surveillance and humiliated every now and then.

Their united call is for the Forum to support their call for a peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government and to grant West Papuan representatives observer status at their annual conferences.

The West Papuans believe that the Forum cannot say it promotes regional stability, while overlooking and neglecting the deadliest issue that has dragged on for over four decades.

Henry Yamo is a postgraduate journalist on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University’s School of Communication Studies.

More coverage on the West Papua issue at the Pacific Islands Forum

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;