Monthly Archives: March 2011

Family Ties –Pacific Institute of Public Policy releases findings on first telephone poll

Family Ties – PiPP releases findings on first telephone poll

As leaders gather in Fiji this week for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit, the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) has released its findings from the first ever telephone poll conducted across Melanesia.

Seven questions relating to the “Melanesian family” of nations were posed, including one asking which major “non Pacific island” nation was considered to be the best partner for individual nations in the region.

MSG leaders may be encouraged that a majority (74.9%) of respondents were aware of the regional body to represent Melanesians.

When asked who they considered part of the Melanesian family, a clear majority of respondents included the established members (PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia) while 42% also included West Papua, 17.1% included Australia, 14.9% included Indonesia and 14.1% included Timor Leste.

Another question posed was “do you support independence for West Papua?” A clear majority of respondents across Melanesia said yes, with very high support in PNG (89.3%) and Vanuatu (88.2%). This suggests a disconnect between popular support and the position taken by governments in the region, except Vanuatu, which has long championed the West Papuan cause at the political level.

Asked to relate the relationship between their country and Australia, the majority of respondents said it was positive except those in Fiji. Australia is also considered to be the best external partner for PNG (40.5%) and the Solomons (40.4%), while for Vanuatu only 14.1% of respondents considered Australia best, whereas China scored 32.9%. Among respondents in Fiji there was a sense that it considered Australia, New Zealand, China and US as all roughly equal in importance.

In relation to engagement with Fiji, a majority of respondents including those in Fiji itself, opted for increased engagement or keeping the level of engagement as it is.

The views expressed by the respondents of this poll may assist MSG leaders as they deliberate on the future of this region. A copy of the poll findings can be downloaded here.

The Pacific Institute of Public Policy is the region’s leading independent think tank and exists to stimulate and support informed policy debate.

For further information please contact Talita on +678 29842 or ttuipulotu@pacificpolicy.org.

 

AWPA calls on MSG Prime Ministers to grant West Papua membership

AWPA calls on MSG Prime Ministers to grant West Papua membership

AWPA is encouraged by the statement from the Chairman of the MSG meeting ,  Ratu Inoke Kubuabol that “The Melanesia Spearhead Group feels for their brothers and sisters in West Papua” . Joe Collins of AWPA said “we urge the MSG to grant West Papua membership at the leaders summit. They would have the support of the Melanesian people across the region in granting West Papua membership”.

We note that in a poll by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PiPP) that “42% also included West Papua” as part of the Melanesian family and that a clear majority of respondents across Melanesia said yes to the question do you support independence for West Papua?

From PiPP press release.
When asked who they considered part of the Melanesian family, a clear majority of respondents included the established members (PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia) while 42% also included West Papua, 17.1% included Australia, 14.9% included Indonesia and 14.1% included Timor Leste.

Another question posed was “do you support independence for West Papua?” A clear majority of respondents across Melanesia said yes, with very high support in PNG (89.3%) and Vanuatu (88.2%). This suggests a disconnect between popular support and the position taken by governments in the region, except Vanuatu, which has long championed the West Papuan cause at the political level.

Joe Collins said ” we see that in the poll only 14.9% of respondents considered Indonesian to be part of the Melanesian family yet Indonesian has observer status but not West Papua. For the sake of the long term stability of the region we hope West Papua will be discussed at the leaders meeting.

PRP calls for release of nurses

JUBI, 29 March 2011

PRP calls for release of nurses

In a statement issued today, the Working People’s Association, the PRP, has called for the release of nurses arrested in Abepura, West Papua.

‘When working people demand a decent living, the neo-liberal regime
responds by arresting them.This is happening everywhere in Indonesia and on this occasion in Jayapura. Nurses working at DokII General Hospital have been under arrest for calling for the payment of incentives which they have been demanding since January 2010,’ said the PRP.

According to the PRP, this criminalisation of working people for demanding better living conditions is happening not only in Papua.
Working people elsewhere in Indonesia are also experiencing the same
thing. This is being done in order to silence the demands of the working people and to thwart the rights of working people to organise themselves.

It went on to say that union busting is happening on a grand scale
across the country, a sign that the the neo-liberal regime is scared
when working people organise themselves and demand their rights.
Measures to thwart the right of assembly and the right to organise or
even to organise demonstrations in happening in many parts of the
country, such as for example the district of Bintan.

The statement which is signed by the national chairman and the
secretary-general of the PRP makes the following demands:

1. Release the DokII nurses who have been arrested by the police because they organised a strike.Charging them with incitement is pure fantasy on the part of the police.

2. Working people throughout Indonesia should resist these efforts to
silence trade unions and organisations.

3. New forces need to be built by all sections of the working people in
Indonesia in opposition to the neo-liberal regime.

4. Capitalism and neo-liberalism have failed to improve the living
conditions of the people. Only socialism can bring prosperity to the people.

Unions call on Indonesia to release arrested nurses

ACTU MEDIA RELEASE :  

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Unions call on Indonesia to release arrested nurses


Australian unions have called on the Indonesian Government to respect international labour Conventions and human and trade union rights following the arrest of five nurses in West Papua.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said it was outrageous that the nurses had been detained for nine days and were reportedly subjected to long periods of police interrogation, simply because they had supported an industrial campaign to ensure they received their contracted entitlements.

“It is disturbing that at the same time as workers in North Africa are beginning to benefit from newfound democratic freedoms, repression of basic human rights including the freedom of association is taking place in our region,” Ms Kearney said.

“These West Papuan nurses were pursuing their legitimate rights and it is obscene to think they are languishing in jail.

“I am advised that more than 1500 nurses took spontaneous and unprecedented industrial action in response to an announcement that the Government of the province of West Papua had withdrawn industrial payments.

“We are told that in an attempt to intimidate the nurses and to force them back to work, five nurses were arrested.

“The intimidation has failed and the nurses and their community are more resolute than ever in their determination to secure the release of the five nurses and to win the industrial campaign.

“However it is simply outrageous that this type of intimidation and violation of human and workers’ rights is occurring.”

Ms Kearney said the arrests of the nurses, including two officials of the National Union of Indonesian Nurses, was a heavy-handed and excessive response to nurses pursing a legitimate industrial campaign in support of their contracted entitlements.

“This action is a clear breach of ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise), which was ratified by Indonesia in June 1998.

“It violates the fundamental human and trade union rights enshrined in C87 and reflects poorly on the Indonesian authorities.

“The Indonesian Government should take immediate steps to release the nurses, to remove all charges and to enter a constructive dialogue with the National Union of Indonesian Nurses to resolve these issues.”

Media contact: Rebecca Tucker ph (03) 9664 7359 or 0408 031 269; rtucker@actu.org.au

 



A Food Project Invasion in West Papua: Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE)

http://www.wri-irg.org/node/12386

War Profiteer of the Month:

Merauke Integrated Food & Energy Estate (MIFEE)

– A Food Project Invasion in West Papua

18 Mar 2011 — javier

Rosa Moiwend

Background

Papua is the western half of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, located about 200 km from the north of Australia. When the Dutch colonised this territory, it called it Dutch New Guinea. The name of this territory has changed over time according to its political status. The Papuan political leaders then changed the name of Dutch New Guinea to West Papua when they prepared for the self-government of this territory in 1961. As soon as the Dutch left in 1962, Indonesia took over the territory, and then West Papua became one of the Indonesian provinces, called Irian Jaya. In 1999, the demand for independence from Papuans increased. In 2001 the Indonesian government granted a Special Autonomy status for Papua under law number 21, and accepted the original name of Papua. Yet, the autonomous status does not mean self-government. All development policies are still under the control of Jakarta, including the policy over investment in natural resources. Moreover, Papua is the only province of Indonesia which it is still identified as a conflict zone under the national defence policy after East Timor became an independent country in 1999 and after Acheh Province signed a Peace Agreement in 2008.

After nine years of Special Autonomy, Papuans realised that this status does not provide significant changes in many aspects of their life. Moreover, the Indonesian government controls the regulation of investment in natural resources by opening easy access for multinational companies to exploit the abundant minerals and forests. Some multinational corporations such as Freeport McMoran, a US giant mining company, plan long-term investment and spend huge amounts of money on security using Indonesian military from the Special Forces (Kopassus) and police. The UK/US company BP and some Korean and Chinese companies, are on the list of investors as well. The Indonesian government through its programme to save energy and deal with the world food crisis plans to open up a massive area of land in the southern part of Papua with a mega-project on food and bio-energy called MIFEE (Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate). Since the demand for independence and the various demands for indigenous people’s rights cause opposition to the investors, the government uses a military approach as the only way to stop the conflict. After Freeport McMoran, MIFEE would be the next disaster for Papua. This article will portray a small part of the struggle over Food and Bio Energy project in Papua.

Malind, one of the indigenous communities in Merauke

Merauke is the southern part of Papua, covered by swampy forest with many rivers flowing down, mixed with massive savannah. The ecosystem in this region is unique. According to WWF, Merauke is one of the important places in the New Guinea Trans Fly Eco-region with its abundant bio-diversity.

Local tribes who have been living in the region are the Malind, Muyu and Mandobo, as well as Mappi and Auyu. The Malin tribe is one of the tribes most affected by the Food and Energy project. Some missionaries and anthropologists such as EB Savage from London Missionary Society, AC Haddon and Van Baal from the Netherlands, wrote in the early of 19th century about the Malind people in the region1. Malind people identify themselves according to their Dema (ancestors). They believe that some places in Merauke are sacred, as Demas had visited that place on their journey. More than that, they believe that ancestors live there so they should protect that place and give their respect to it. If they disobey, they will get a customary sanction which bring bad things in their lives. These beliefs are transferred from generation to generation. Malind recognised each other according to the symbols of clans. There are six big clans with their own symbols; Gebze with coconut, Mahuze with the sagoo palm, Basik with a pig, Samkakai with a kangaroo, Kaize with a cassowary and Balagaise with a falcon bird. These symbols integrated with the customary rules that control and influence their lives. Losing one of the symbols in nature means losing their identity.

Malind people have their own mechanism for using their natural resources. Each clan has its own customary territory that functions as a hunting place, for gardening, as a fishing ground, and to settle. Each place has a boundary that doesn’tt appear on the government map of land rights. All explanations and knowledge of customary matters are found in their customary law. If the sacred places and boundaries are lost, it means that internal conflict between clans might happen. This is the reason for the importance of keeping the customary boundaries and sacred places.

Merauke Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE)

In 2009, when a food and energy crisis hit the world in connection with global warming, the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhyono, declared his goal of feeding “Indonesia and the world” by developing a food and energy estate in Merauke, Papua. As a mean of stabilising the security of Indonesia’s food, the project – called Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate, or MIFEE — covers 1.6 million hectares of commercial plantations. Merauke has been designated a national Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in order to attract the $8.6 billion of investment needed for the project. MIFEE is one of the priority programmes of the second term of his presidency (2009 to 2014).

To fulfill its ambition, the government of Indonesia has invited multinational companies from the Middle East, Asia, and the US, as well as from Indonesia. More than 30 companies confirmed their interest in this project and have already received concessions from the Indonesian government. Some, such as the Bin Laden Group from Saudi Arabia, announced their interest in spending 43 million dollars for 500,000 hectares of land on rice fields in Merauke. Then it was followed by some other companies from Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates who also want to invest in agribusiness in Indonesia2. International Paper, based in Memphis, Tennessee, is also reported to have had exploratory talks with the Indonesian minister of forestry concerning developing a mill either in Kalimantan or in Merauke3. From Asia, a Japanese Corporation, the Mitsubishi group, the Wilmar group from Singapore, and LG International from Korea, also made commitments to this project though a joint venture with Indonesian companies. Companies such as Medco Group, owned by Arifin Panigoro; Artha Graha Network, owned by Tomy Winata; PT Bangun Cipta Sarana, owned by Siswono Yudhohusodo; Comexindo International, owned by Hasyim Djojohadikusumo; Sumber Alam Sutra; Korindo; PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia; Sinar Mas; PT Kertas Nusantara; PT Digul Agro Lestari as part of Astra Agro Lestari, and Sinar Mas Group4 are the Indonesian partners of these multinational companies. As well as investing in food plantations, many of them are interested in industrial timber plantation and cheap production.

MEDCO Group vs Malind

Medco International is an integrated corporation that invests in oil, gas, mining and energy sectors across Asia, Africa, and the US. It has 8 production blocks in the US and the Gulf of Mexico, 2 exploration blocks in Yemen, 2 blocks in Cambodia, 1 block in Tunisia, and 1 in Libya1. According to The Jakarta Post, Hilmi Panigoro, the presidential commissioner, stated that Medco Energy International will collaborate with the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) for US$ 400 million investment on an oil facility in Libya. The investment will be shared fifty-fifty with LIA.2 In Indonesia, Medco Energy owns 10 blocks in total in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

In order to spread out its business, Medco Energy particularly shows an interest in bio-fuel and bio-energy. In Sumatra (Lampung), Medco is spending US$ 45 million for 13,000 hectares of Cassava plantations. Then in Merauke, Papua, Medco is investing in 170,000 hectares for an industrial timber plantation. MIFEE has one of its priorities as energy investment. It has been planning to operate using a similar model of corporate farming as in Brazil. According to Hilmi Panigoro, Brazil is a successful model of an integrated agriculture project regarding energy and food security. Panigoro said Brazil has switched 50% of its fuel consumption from only 1% of its fertile land. Moreover, he quotes the studies of the FAO in 2005 that suggested Indonesia has more potential for developing bio-energy than Brazil. 3

Medco has strong support from the Indonesian government and the local authorities in Merauke. Without consulting with the Malind people, the Indonesian government, with help from the local government, has split opinions in the area about forestry and agriculture.

In September 2009, LG International announced its partnership with Medco Group to obtain 1 million hectares of Papua’s forests for wood chips. For that reason, the Korean corporation spent about US$ 25 million on 25% of PT Metra Duta Lestari (Medco Group), with another 66% held by Medco.4

Local independent media, Jubi online, reported complaints from the Malind tribes’ leader Alberth Onoka Gebze Moiwend, in Merauke, about Medco’s activities. Alberth explained that Medco’s forest clearance was destroying hunting places, and firewood and food grounds of the Malind tribes who live in Bupu village. In addition, wastes from Medco’s pulp factory in Bupu village is polluting the river, which is the only water supply for the village. Yet Medco Group refuses to say that its activity affects deforestation. The company, is already producing large amounts of timber from natural forests, and has shipped several barges, mostly of acacia and eucalyptus trees for chips in Merauke. All the land will be cleared and then replanted with other seedlings of commercial timber. Moreover, Onoka Moiwend asserted that Medco activities could potentially bring the indigenous people in Merauke towards slow extermination.

The Malin people in Kaliki, a small village near the town, are waiting for their compensation from Medco. According to the local church, the PT Medco Papua (PT Medco) company entered Kaliki village in 2008 and promised to pay compensation to five clans (Mahuze, Kaize, Balagaize, Gebze, and Ndiken) who own the land. On 3 March, 2008, they organised a meeting with villagers. PT Medco promised to give them compensation for the use of land with 10 motorbikes for the Gebze family, who owned most of the land; and they promised to build houses for the villagers. Additionally, the company would provide each villager with their own bank account and provide a school and houses for the teachers. Also, there would be guaranteed scholarships and dormitory costs for children of Kaliki who continued their studies in the city. The company would facilitate a new road to Kaliki as well. Medco would provide jobs for villagers in order to improve their economic situation.

Nevertheless, the company created internal conflicts between clans in the village by signing an agreement with only the other four clans. In the meantime, Medco made another agreement with the Gebze clan who agreed to sell 20 hectares of their land with only a payment of 20 Million Rupiahs (approximately £1500). The four other clans complained to the company and the Gebze. Misunderstandings between those clans finally led to one of the Gebze members being a victim of a black magic practice that cause his death. Villagers and Gebze families believed that the black magic was sent by people from the other clans. For that reason, the clans are fighting against each other while the company continues to run its project. Just recently, the local church took an initiative to mediate between the Gebze and other clans to resolve their conflict. Finally, the villagers have decided to reject PT Medco and its activities in Kailiki.

It has been reported that there has been strong rejection of MIFEE by local people. Solidarity groups called SORPATOM and KOMALI have formed a resistance alliance. Protests and demonstrations had been organised by these groups. Furthermore, the customary leaders in Merauke wrote a letter of rejection to MIFEE and sent it to the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous People was facilitated by AMAN (The Indigenous People’s Alliance of Archipelago), the main Indonesian Indigenous People’s forum. AMAM delivered a statement of concern about human rights in Merauke in connection with the MIFEE project to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, in April, 2010. AMAN in its statement categorises the MIFEE project as “a structural and systematic genocide of the West Papuan people” this was endorsed by 24 indigenous people’s organisations around the world5. The rejection of MIFEE has now gained big support from different organisations in Indonesia and Papua, and internationally as well.

The case of Kaliki is only one of many cases that have happened in the region. Not only Medco, but also some 30 other companies cause problems for the indigenous people there. However, the Indonesian government stays quiet and continues its interest in this mega-food project. At tge local government level, Merauke recently had a new head of authority who has a different perspective on this food project. Romanus Mbaraka, the new head has decided to postpone operating this project under the local legislation. However, he has no authority to influence national investment policy.

The question is for how long the indigenous people in Papua will resist the bombardment of investments threatening their existence in their ancestors’ land.

Notes

Published in War Profiteers’ News, March 2011, No. 28