AFP: Languages of Papua Vanish Without a Whisper

(Comment from West Papua Media:  A very sad indictment of the policy of cultural genocide and Indonesianisation practiced in West Papua.  Deliberate refusal of allowing birth languages to be spoken at school, and persecution of people speaking traditional languages by security forces is contributing to this.  As any indigenous person knows, loss of language means loss of place, and is the last step of cruel dispossession.)

Agence France-Presse
July 21, 2011

Who will speak Iniai in 2050? Or Faiwol? Moskona? Wahgi? Probably no
one, as the languages of New Guinea — the world’s greatest linguistic
reservoir — are disappearing in a tide of indifference.

Yoseph Wally, an anthropologist at Cendrawasih University in Jayapura,
keeps his ears open when he visits villages to hear what language the
locals are speaking.

“It’s Indonesian more and more,” he said. “Only the oldest people
still speak in the local dialect.”

In some villages he visits, not a single person can understand a word
of the traditional language.

“Certain languages disappeared very quickly, like Muris, which was
spoken in an area near here until about 15 years ago,” he said.

New Guinea is home to more than 1,000 languages — around 800 in Papua
New Guinea and 200 in Indonesian Papua — but most have fewer than
1,000 speakers, often centered around a village or a few hamlets.

Some 80 percent of New Guinea’s people live in rural areas and many
tribes, especially in the isolated mountains, have little contact with
one another, let alone with the outside world.

The most widely-spoken language is Enga, with around 200,000 speakers
in the highlands of central PNG, followed by Melpa and Huli.

“Every time someone dies, a little part of the language dies too
because only the oldest people still use it,” said Nico, Cendrawasih
University’s museum curator.

“In towns but also eventually in the forest, Indonesian has become the
main language for people under 40. Traditional languages are reserved
for celebrations and festivals,” said Habel M. Suwae, the regent of
Jayapura district.

In PNG, under the influence of nearby Australia, English has spread,
though it has made little headway with some tribes, particularly those
in the isolated highlands.

The authorities are sometimes accused of inaction, or even of favoring
the official language to better integrate the population, particularly
in Indonesian Papua.

But according to Hari Untoro Dradjat, an adviser to the Indonesian
ministry of culture, “it is almost impossible to preserve a language
if it is no longer spoken in everyday life.”

Despite his pessimism about the future, anthropologist Wally believes
art and culture can stop Papuan languages being forgotten.

Papuans love to sing and celebrate and they must do these things in
their traditional languages, Wally says — this way, young people “will
want to discover the language to understand the meaning of the songs.”

Instead of saving languages on the way to extinction, some researchers
want to preserve a record of them — a difficult task when many are
exclusively oral.

Oxford University has launched a race against the clock to record
Emma, aged 85, Enos, 60, and Anna, also 60, who are the three last
Papuans to speak Dusner.

More than 200 languages have become extinct around the world over the
last three generations and 2,500 others are under threat, according to
a Unesco list of endangered languages, out of a total of 6,000 in the

JG: Low-Ranking Soldiers Indicted Over Torture, Killing in Papua’s Puncak Jaya

[The Papua Customary Council (DAP), however, disagreed with the Army’s
version of events. It said Kinderman was a local priest and had no
ties to the OPM.

“He was waiting for a delivery from Wamena, so when a convoy
approached he immediately went up to check for his package,” DAP
member Markus Haluk said. “There are thousands of innocent civilians
in Papua accused of being OPM to justify military tortures and
killings. This trial is just for show, like the previous one.”]

The Jakarta Globe
July 21, 2011

Low-Ranking Soldiers Indicted Over Torture,
Killing in Papua’s Puncak Jaya

by Banjir Ambarita


A military tribunal in Papua indicted three low-ranking soldiers on
Wednesday for the killing of a civilian in Puncak Jaya district last

The defendants were identified as First Sgt. Saut Sihombing, Second
Pvt. Hery Purwanto and Second Pvt. Hasirun. All three serve in the
Army’s Nabire Infantry Battalion, as did four soldiers sentenced in
November for torturing two civilians in the village of Gurage in the
same district.

That incident resulted in international condemnation after a video of
the torture was posted on the online video-sharing site YouTube in

Military prosecutor Capt. Jem C.H. Manibuy charged the three
defendants in this latest case with torture. They are accused of
beating and shooting to death a civilian, identified as Kinderman
Gire. The killing occurred near a military checkpoint in the village
of Illu on March 17 last year, just two weeks prior to the Gurage

The indictment says Saut, Hery and Hasirun accompanied a civilian
convoy that was delivering food supplies to Mulia, the capital of
Puncak Jaya district, around 10 hours by road from Wamena, Jayawijaya.

Kinderman, according to the indictment, stopped the convoy near Kalome
village in an attempt to extort gasoline from the driver of one of the

Saut disembarked from his vehicle and approached Kinderman who was
with another civilian, Pitinus Kogoya. The indictment says that
Kinderman then said, “I am not afraid of the military. I have 30
friends in the mountains and they are armed,” suggesting that
Kinderman was a member of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Kinderman and Pitinus were then beaten while being interrogated by
Hery and Hasirun, the indictment says. Pitinus was able to escape by
jumping down an embankment.

The military tribunal was told that Kinderman tried to grab a rifle
from Hery, who reacted by firing at Kinderman. The shot hit Kinderman
in the chest, killing him instantly.

Saut said he reported the incident to his superior, Sudarmin, who told
the three not to say anything about the shooting.

The three soldiers took Kinderman’s body to their vehicle before
dumping it in a river from a bridge in Tingginambut subdistrict, the
indictment says.

The Papua Customary Council (DAP), however, disagreed with the Army’s
version of events. It said Kinderman was a local priest and had no
ties to the OPM.

“He was waiting for a delivery from Wamena, so when a convoy
approached he immediately went up to check for his package,” DAP
member Markus Haluk said. “There are thousands of innocent civilians
in Papua accused of being OPM to justify military tortures and
killings. This trial is just for show, like the previous one.”

Freeport Indonesia, Union Pay Talks Enter Third Day

Grasberg mine
Image via Wikipedia

JAKARTA, July 22 (Reuters) – Negotiations between Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold and its workers in Indonesia over pay entered the third
day on Friday, industry sources said, as the mining giant reported
losses of copper and gold after a strike at its massive mine.

Chief executive Richard Adkerson said on Thursday the aggregate impact
of production lost during an eight-day strike at the Grasberg mine in
Papua province was 35 million pounds of copper and 60,000 ounces of

Adkerson also said the strike, which ended on July 13 and production
resumed a day later, led to a temporary suspension of all mining,
milling and concentration shipments from the mine.

“The talks are ongoing but the details are not disclosed to the
public,” said an industry source in Jakarta, who has seen Freeport’s
notice on the talks.

“The meeting is attended by PT Freeport Indonesia’s union team and
witnessed by representatives from the company’s management team.”

A Freeport spokesman in Jakarta did not reply to an email inquiry.

Union leaders started pay talks with the U.S. miner on Wednesday in
the Indonesian part of New Guinea, as they push for a doubling of
salaries for workers earning $1.50 per hour, saying other Freeport
workers around the world get 10 times that.

The company is negotiating with the union on a contract due to be
renewed in October.

The New York-listed firm reported a doubling in second-quarter
profits, citing soaring metal prices and higher copper sales than
expected at its North American mines, but said that costs are creeping
up and it expects to sell less copper in the third quarter.

That outlook, combined with a fall in copper price on Thursday and
some analysts’ concerns with the nagging uncertainties over the labour
situation in Indonesia, led to a more than 1 percent drop in Freeport
share price.

Gold was steady around $1,589 an ounce on Friday, not far from a
record around $1,609 hit on Tuesday. Three-month copper on the London
Metal Exchange edged down to around $9,650 a tonne.(Reporting by Lewa Pardomuan and Samuel Wanda; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)

WPAT: Letter to Secretary of State Clinton on West Papua

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, D.C.

July 20, 2011

Secretary Clinton:

The West Papua Advocacy Team is writing to you on the eve of your
visit to Indonesia to request that you use this opportunity to raise
with senior Indonesians the Indonesian military operation that is
occurring in the Puncak Jaya regency of West Papua.

Media reports have indicated that up to 600 Indonesian military (TNI)
personal are involved in “sweeping ” operations in the region. This
operation is only the latest in a series of such operations which the
Indonesian military has conducted in the Puncak Jaya region over many
years. These operations have had a devastating human toll including
civilian casualties, destruction of civilian homes, churches, public
buildings gardens and livestock as well as broad displacement of
civilians from towns and villages, often to nearby mountains and
jungle. Due in part to routine military closure of these zones of
conflict to humanitarian operations, displaced civilians suffer and
die as a result of lack of food, shelter and access to medical care.

Typically, military forces, including forces which benefit from U.S.
government equipment and training, fail to distinguish between those
they are targeting, the lightly armed Free Papua Movement (the OPM),
and the general public. While the OPM is committed to peaceful
dialogue, it retains the right to self defense and protecting the
local people if attacked. Although the security forces blame all
incidents in the area on the OPM, many attacks on the TNI are by
unknown attackers. Some of these arise as a result of disputes
related to commercial interests among military units and/or with
police units which compete over exploitation of natural resources and
extortion of local and international commercial operations.

In the current sweep operation media reports indicate four civilians,
including one women and 3 children, were wounded on July 12 when
Indonesian troops from the Infantry Battalion 753, who are based in
Nabire, fired into huts in the village of Kalome while searching for
members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). Thus far, the military has
refused to acknowledge this incident.

In May the military began a “socializing program” in Puncak Jaya
involving up to 300 Army, Air Force and Navy personnel . The program
is proposed to include the renovating of homes, churches and markets.
The military personnel, as part of the program, also lecture local
Papuans at Papuans Sunday church gatherings. Local people, according
to media and other accounts, have described the program as in reality
only a shield and a cover-up of the military and police’s violation
of human rights abuses that have transpired in the region for many years.

Papuan civil society leaders, non-governmental organizations,
churches and ordinary civilians have long called for transformation
of Papua into a “Land of Peace,” a concept that would demilitarize
West Papua and end the Indonesian government’s reliance on a
“security approach” to address peaceful, political dissent.
Currently, many Papuans are incarcerated in prisons due to their
peaceful exercise of freedoms of speech and assembly which are denied
them by the Indonesian government.

We urge you to use the opportunity of your visit to Indonesia to call
on the Indonesian President to halt all military operations in West
Papua and return all military personal to their barracks as a way of
easing tension and saving lives. We also urge you to raise with
senior Indonesians, the plight of dozens of Papuan prisoners of
conscience who were jailed as result of peaceful dissent and who now
face health and even life-threatening conditions in Indonesian
notorious prisons.

Yours respectfully,

The West Papua Advocacy Team

(Edmund McWilliams, Acting Secretary)

KINGMI Church makes its aspirations known to President

Bintang Papua, 21 July, 2011

KINGMI Church writes to SBY

Jayapura: The chairman of the Synod of the KINGMI Evangelical Church Dr Benny Giay, has written to President Yudhoyono to explain the church’s aspirations, in response to a statement by the Cenderawasih military commander, Major-General Erfi Triassunu who alleged that the church was set up to get as much money as possible from the government in order to fund its political campaign for independence.

Following a prayer meeting, the prayer co-ordinator Rev Domminggu Pigay read out the aspirations, watched by Dr Benny Giay and other victims of stigmatisation as separatists.

Dr Giay later put the sheets of paper with the aspirations written on
them on the ground in front of the office of the DPRP – provincial
legislative council. There were not many local people around to witness the event as they had returned to their homes about 200 meters away.
Yunus Wonda, deputy chairman of the DPRP, said he had facilitated the
meeting in order to get clarifications from the military commander.
‘This is a long struggle and needs to support of the whole KINGMI
congregation,’ he said.

Dr Giay, as leader of the KINGMI Church, said he had made their
aspirations known to the President publicly, in response to the
statement made in Arpil by Major-General Triassunu, which had been
disseminated to all the local military commanders, and made public in
the media on 7 July.

Dr Giay’s letter to the President made a number of points, one of which rejected all efforts to drive public opinion in the direction of
reducing the right of religious bodies to become political
organisations, or identifying the church as the OPM. ‘We reject the
efforts by the government which have been under way for a long time to see everything connected with the churches from a political perspective.’

‘They fail to see,’ the statement said, ‘that it is the role of the
church to strengthen friendship and solidarity for those who suffer and are excluded.’

He said that the Synod was nothing like what the government and the
military commander imagine. ‘We reject being called OPM which we regard as being a trick to extinguish the church’s role as a prophet in the Land of Papua.

He appealed to the President to stand by his pledge to ensure that
that Papua is a place of tranquillity not only for newcomers from
elsewhere but also for the indigenous Papuan people.

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

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