Activists detained for attending consolidation meeting

from and sources
October 7, 2011
Indonesian police have detained ten West Papuan activists in Jayapura on Thursday ahead of a critical meeting for the pro-independence West Papua National Authority (WPNA), according to local sources.
As many as 1825 West Papuan independence activists had arrived in Jayapura aboard the KM Sinabung on October 6 to begin a consolidation conference of the WPNA.  The Conference, to be held on October 8-9, was to determine the political position of WPNA ahead of the historic Third Papuan Peoples‘ Congress, a gathering of all the elements of West Papua’s disparate resistance movement to agree on a common strategy towards fulfilling the demand for Papuan self-determination.  The Congress, expected to go ahead from October 16-19 at Cenderawasih University was called by the West Papua National Committee, and has gained support from most sectors of the Papuan civil society.
Despite the mass circulation of SMS messages, believed to be from intelligence sources, across Papua that Jakarta was not going to oppose the Congress and the ability for Papuan people to organise dialogue under their own terms, Jayapura police have detained key WPNA organisers for possessing “separatist materials”.
Marthen Manggaprouw, from the WPNA Secretariat in  Jayapura, reports that Silas Ayemi, Seftinus Kaiway, Yoas Yawandare, Lewi Arampi, Noak Kandipi, Yehuda Kandipi, Daniel Sakwatorey,  Obeth Aninam, Filep Yawandare, and Henok Dori  were still detained at Police Station in Jayapura on Thursday night.   Silas Ayemi reported that he was arrested because he kept an invitation letter for attending the West Papuan Congress, and also for being in possession of pictures of the banned West Papuan Morning Star flag.
Jakarta has reportedly confirmed to Congress organisers that a member of the Indonesian government will be in attendance at the Congress.  Local observers have questioned why the Indonesian police are still arresting people for legitimately and peacefully organising internal dialogue when Jakarta is apparently allowing the Third Papuan Peoples’ Congress to take place.
International observers and foreign journalists are still banned by Jakarta from West Papua, so independent monitoring is proving difficult.
Herman Wainggai, an activist for WPNA currently based in Washington DC, said
“Indonesian Authorities arrested them without considering their basic human rights”.    Wainggai also called on the the Indonesia government to immediately release the 10 detainees.   Indonesia should, according to Wainggai, “allow us to have more democratic space during the West Papuan national meeting in October, rather than continuing to arrest people and damage their life while they work for democracy in West Papua”.
No comment was received from the Indonesian police at time of writing in Jayapura on the status of the detainees.

Freeport Strikes Could Just Work

with New

7 Oct 2011

Freeport Strikes Could Just Work

By Alex Rayfield and Claudia King

Renewed strikes at West Papua‘s Grasberg mine have caught the Indonesian government off guard – and signal a shifting power balance in the province, report Alex Rayfield and Claudia King

Workers at the Freeport McMoRan mine in West Papua resumed strikes on 15 September after more than six weeks of unresolved negotiation talks with company management.

Increasing numbers of international media are covering the workers’ return to strikes, the first of which ended in July after eight days of work stoppage that halted production at the Grasberg mine.

However, national and international media have focused solely on worker demands for an increase in their hourly pay rate — ignoring the history of Freeport’s unfair and even illegal treatment of the mine’s so-called “non-staff” workers.

West Papuan workers receive the lowest wages ($1.50-$3.00) of any Freeport mining facility in the world, despite the fact that their work accounts for 95 per cent of the company’s consolidated gold production, and a substantial percentage of Freeport’s copper production. According to NASDAQ, Freeport has reaped astonishingly high profits from the low labour costs at the West Papuan site, enabling the company “margins in excess of 60 per cent in past years”.

Indonesian energy minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh estimates the Indonesian government alone could lose as much as $6.7 million in tax revenues, royalties and other payments from Freeport every day the strike carried on. Leaders of the All Indonesian Workers Union (freeport division) have said they will agree to a 25 per cent wage increase (down from demands for increases of up to $200 per hour) but Freeport management is so far refusing to lift their offer higher than 22 per cent.

However, media coverage of the strikes is missing Freeport’s long history of suppressing workers’ rights and union organising in Papua, not to mention the historical context and legacy of poor industrial relations out of which these strikes have emerged.

For one, Freeport McMoRan’s contract of work with the Indonesian government was signed prior to a scheduled referendum on West Papua’s political status. The UN had granted Indonesian temporary control over the region in 1963 but by the time the “Act of Free Choice” of 1969 was ready to proceed, only 1,022 West Papuans — less than 0.01 per cent of the population at the time — participated. In reality there was no referendum and no vote. Papuans were told by Indonesian military generals to vote for Indonesian rule or have “their tongues cut out”. Unsurprisingly, in this atmosphere of intimidation, 100 per cent choose to support West Papua’s incorporation.

But Freeport McMoRan, subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia, did not even wait for this farce. The US Company made a deal with the Indonesian dictator Suharto, who was waging military operations in West Papua at the time. Freeport signed their first contract of work in 1967, two years before the 1969 Act of Free Choice. Under Suharto an authoritarian management style became entrenched. Dissent by workers and the local Papuan landowners were repressed harshly by the military.

Secondly, Indigenous West Papuans’ cultural, and economic livelihoods, which are dependent on a healthy natural environment, have been disrupted by Freeport’s arrival. It is no wonder that local communities resisted both violently and nonviolently to the company’s takeover of large swaths of their territory. In fact, Papuan resistance to Freeport has always been connected to Papuan resistance to Indonesia’s repressive “neocolonial” rule, which has now lasted over 50 years and according to Amnesty International resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people.

Alongside West Papua’s pro-independence movement are workers, both native Papuans and Indonesian migrants, organising for fair pay, basic rights to organise without threats and intimidation from Freeport management, and the provision of equal facilities for local workers as their foreign worker counterparts, including: housing, health care, education, and pension funds.

They are demanding the freedom to organise as workers, to strike and demonstrate without threats, intimidation, or interference from Freeport management or local police, and without penalty of receiving no pay or the risk of losing their jobs. Freeport has now engaged global security contractors Securicor (now G4S), to break the strike.

Union leaders are maintaining vigilant documentation of violations by the various security apparatus. Since resuming the strike, workers have received messages from officials viaSMS, and visits to their family homes by Freeport staff and security who threaten to withhold pay and fire striking workers. Barracks near the mine’s entrance in Tembagapura were raided by officials, some whom were allegedly foreign nationals, who according to workers ordered miners to sign an agreement to end the strike.

The most disturbing incident was the attempted shooting of Union Chairman Sudiro while in his home on September 11, 2011 by “persons unknown”, a phrase in Indonesia that is often shorthand for the Indonesian military.

In a significant escalation of resistance, leaders of the Amungme and Kamoro tribes — the two customary landowner groups who own the land Freeport is mining — are supporting the striking workers. Senior tribal leaders Anis Natkime, Canisius Amareyau, Viktor Beanal and youth leaders Jecky Amisim and Donny Emayauta have written to Freeport CEO James Moffett and Freeport President Richard Adkerson to ask the company to agree to worker’s demands.

Failing this the tribal leaders threaten to close Freeport’s entire operations from the Amungme highlands of the 4,200 metre high Grasberg mine down to the Kamoro lowland port of Amapare. In doing so, these leaders are throwing off decades of fear and trauma brought about by repressive Indonesian military operations in support of Freeport. Abuses include the forced removal of villages and massacres by Indonesian military and police personnel who have never been held to account.

Although Indigenous communities living in and around the site of the Grasberg mine are supposed to receive a percentage of the profits from mining extraction as a part of an agreement known as the “1 per cent fund” community leaders claim the funds, which are routed through Jakarta, never reach the local community. The fund has also created conflict and competition between tribes.

While there is no guarantee that workers and community leaders will achieve their goals or address long-standing grievances, the worker strikes have caught Freeport and the government off guard, and awoken them to the reality that they are no longer uncontested power-holders in the region. Instead they will be forced to shift their practices one way or another, or else face serious economic and reputational losses.

The strike also threatens to have much wider repercussions than mere pay rises. West Papuan independence leaders in other parts of the country are preparing to organise the third national gathering of Papuan resistance groups. These leaders are watching the events at Freeport closely. When the three-day Third Papua Congress opens in Jayapura/Port Numbay on 16 October you can be sure that grievances around Freeport will be high on the agenda.

A security force of 4,000 to guard Third Papuan People’s Congress

Bintang Papua, 5 October 2011Jayapura:  The Third Papuan People’s Congress [KRP] which is due to take place from 16 – 19 October will be provided with a security force of four thousand Papuans, according to the chairman of the KRP committee, Selpius Bobii, when he handed over the congress programme to Bintang  Papua.

The objective of the congress will be to make a frank evaluation of the realities in a number of sectors of life of the Papuan people in the Land of  Papua overall, with  particular attention to protection and to the principle of siding with and empowering the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people in accordance with the Special Autonomy Law [UU21/2001] and to determine the seriousness with which the state, that is to say Indonesia,  is building Papua in conformity with human dignity.

In addition, to seek the mechanisms and correct measures for resolving the Papuan question with greater attention to the principles of justice, peace and well-being, in a dignified way. Preparations along the lines of the material conditions and security  are already in place.

According to Bobii, the KRP will be a large-scale festival of democracy for the Papuan people. What this festival  of democracy hopes to achieve is a common understanding of the realities in many fields of life for the people in the Land of Papua and to reach a proper understanding  of the  intentions of the Indonesian state in upholding the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people, including their political rights, and to seek out the mechanisms and correct steps that need to be taken for a more peaceful, dignified and welfare solution of the Papuan problem, within the global community.

‘In order to achieve these objectives,  we have called on the community as a whole and the various organs to ensure a conducive atmosphere. And moreover, while the congress is in progress, there will be the need for internal consolidation between the various organs and consolidation at the base. And in order to safeguard the proceedings of the congress,  the committee has made arrangements for a Papuan security force of 4,000 people.

/Translated by TAPOL/

Deal with the rectification of history first, says Indonesia

*“Deal with the rectification of history first”*Bintang Papua, 3 October 2011

JAYAPURA – The claim made by the Committee for the Third Papuan People’s Congress (scheduled for 16–19 October) that they already have the support of the government has received a pessimistic response from a member of the DPRP, the Papuan Provincial parliament, Dr. Johanes Sumarto. He said that the Papuan parliament is urging the Third Papuan People’s Congress Committee to deal first with the unfinished agenda of the Second Papuan Congress, then talk about the issue of a third congress. He said that as one point on the agenda remained unfinished, that is to say, the rectification of history had not yet been successfully dealt with, it was not the time to start dealing with more agenda items. Because of this, said Johanes, pushing ahead with the Third Papuan People’s Congress before outstanding agendas had been dealt with was a waste of time, funds and energy. “The [agenda of the] Second Papua Congress has not been finished and now they want to have a third – this is a waste of energy, money and so on,” said the representative of the Gerindra Party when contacted by Bintang Papua at his office at the Papuan local parliament in Jayapura on Monday (3/10).

According to Johanes, once the agenda of the Second Congress is finished, this should be reported to the government and along with the plan for the Third Congress. “This in no way diminishes the will to hold a Third Papuan People’s Congress. I value their desire to have this congress. But this is a question of efficiency of the activity,” he added.

The problem according to him was that the Second Congress received the blessing and financial support of the central government via former President Gus Dur [Abdurrahman Wahid), to the tune of one billion rupiah, whereas this Third Congress had not yet been approved by the government. “The central government hasn’t approved it yet, but neither have they opposed it,” he said.

As reported in this newspaper yesterday… [repeats article of 2 October 2011].

Translated by TAPOL

Committee claims that Third Papua Congress has Jakarta’s support

To be held 16–19 October
Bintang Papua, 2 October 2011JAYAPURA – Despite failing to meet directly with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), Team 7 of the Third Papuan People’s Congress, lead by Selfius Bobii stated that they had received a positive response from the central government. On Saturday 1 October, at a press conference held on his return from Jakarta, Selfius Bobii said “I and the Jakarta team have met with the Deputy Head of the Internal politics section, Judy Harianto of the Ministry for Politics, Law and Security,” accompanied by the entire Third Papua Congress committee. Following the two meetings held with the Ministry of Politics, Law and Security, according to Bobi, the central government has responded well to the planned agenda for the Third Congress. “If the president is free then he will open the conference, otherwise he will be represented by a minister,” he explained. During this opportunity in Jakarta, invitations were given to the Ministry for Politics, Law and Security and to the Secretary of State, for the President. “They (the central government) will be present as the keynote speaker,” he explained.

It was added that the congress organisers, who at this point have not yet confirmed the venue, have also invited all foreign embassies. In reference to support requested from Papua’s provincial government, according to Bobii there was none as yet. “We went to the DPRP several times, but the situation has been like this for ages… so we just let it be,” he explained disappointedly.

The Third Papua Congress will begin with a blessing on Sunday 16 October 2011. It will then be formally opened on Monday (17/10). He said that the Third Papua Congress is part of the democracy process in Indonesia and is supported by international law and national Indonesian law. The Third Papuan People’s Congress is also aimed at the fulfilment of human rights. In the matter of law and human rights, the state and government hold the status of protectors, said Selfius Bobii on Sunday 1 October at the press conference. Bobii said “As a democracy festival for the Papuan people at the highest level, the momentum of the Third Papuan People’s Congress on 16–19 October 2011 will be attended by representatives of the Papuan people from both outside and inside Papua, in an attempt to provide leadership for their aspirations in a dignified and democratic fashion, using democratic mechanisms which are supported by international law and the state constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.”

Bobii went on to say: ‘Invitations to all foreign countries and embassies have already been sent, and the majority have already responded that they will be present at the Third Papuan People’s Congress. There are those who have not yet responded, but of those internal invitees, 99% have already responded, leaving only 1% of our friends who don’t yet understand the right to struggle,” he said. When asked about the problem of TPN/OPM who do not agree with the agenda, Bobii firmly stated “We are well aware of each group’s position and we’re not going to try to interfere, but we respect and support each other in accordance with our respective roles. The Third Congress is a consolidation of the Papuan people, both in the towns and outside the country. Since 1965 the struggle came from the towns to the forest, then between 1991–1998 the struggle returned from the forest to the town, and now the struggle is already in the towns, do we want to go back to the forest again? Because of this we speak of our self-awareness and the roles of each group. If it’s the civilian wing…? Then the civilian wing has to know their role. Likewise if it’s the diplomatic wing, he should know what his job is…! So I am emphasising self-awareness and for each to carry out their role. We have already told our elders who previously did not agree that this is no longer the time for weapons and violence, it’s different now,” Bobii said firmly, continuing: “The struggle today is a peaceful struggle, in accordance with the decision of the Second Papuan People’s Congress; the peaceful struggle must be defended, because the peaceful struggle is sacred” he remarked. “We hope that in this struggle, nobody will be dishonoured,” he added.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: