Daily Archives: November 19, 2011

Mpur Peoples and development: a film by Mnukwar

with support from DownToEarth

This new film explores the views of the Mpur community, West Papua, on development plans for their region which will affect their land, livelihoods and culture.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/32076025]

Mpur Peoples and Development from Down to Earth on Vimeo.

About Mnukwar: bringing about change through film-making

Armed with medium-size video cameras and other film-making paraphernalia when they are out and about making films in different areas of West Papua, the Mnukwar crew often attracts local people’s attention. Knowing their background in environmental activism, some people think they are just showing-off with expensive gadgets and their interest will wane once the novelty wears off.

Set up in 2007 by several environmental and social justice activists, Mnukwar (a type of the Bird of Paradise as well as the name of the old capital of Manokwari) focuses on facilitating change through making film. Mnukwar staff are not too bothered by such cynical comments because the target for Mnukwar is not the film itself.

Being grassroots activists, the Mnukwar crew are very much aware of the urgent need for local people to be able to express themselves freely and without fear of intimidation. For many years, Papuans have been living under the threat of being stigmatized as rebels, making communications  with communities difficult. Communication, as the communities know from previous experience, can sometimes mean interrogation.

Mnukwar uses a variety of methods to build a rapport with a community, including showing other films to villagers as a way of introducing what can be done in film. More often than not, once a rapport is built, curiosity about the gadgets and the process of film-making itself overcome people’s anxiety about talking. Then people start to engage.

Working with people is never easy. On a number of occasions, villagers have turned NGOs away from carrying out any activity in their place because, based on past experience, ‘NGOs do not keep their word’, ‘NGOs are good at taking data but never share it with the villagers, let alone giving anything back or being accountable for what they do’, ‘ NGOs who come to villages with short-term or one-off projects with no future perspectives only make villagers confused’.

Mnukwar has learned a great deal from others’ experiences. At the beginning of any programme, Mnukwar always tries to make it clear that they are not organisation which provides grants or income generation projects, but a group of people who are attempting to facilitate learning about peoples’ rights and citizenship through film-making. During the film-making, the Mnukwar crew works closely with the people involved, to avoid the situation where the people are only the object of the film. Knowledge is reproduced in film format and the people are consulted. Film is also a powerful form of communication and an important means of learning in a society where interest in reading is very low.

Films about Climate Change

Through various work and activities on the issue of climate change, the Mnukwar crew has learned that climate change is not a phenomenon that is easy to capture on film. When asked straight questions such as “what is climate change or what signs of climate change have you observed?”, people are puzzled. Climate change is simply a foreign idea.  The observations about climate people can share are about the inconsistency of the seasons and the impact of this on their livelihoods.

What about ‘global warming’ and ‘climate justice’? For many communities, these are just sound bites with little meaning.

There is a long way to go before we will be able to see people in Papua linking global phenomena to their day-to-day living. And yet, it is never too late to learn and one can start using whatever tools are to hand. This is the principle of Mnukwar in making-film too: there is no need to wait until you have the proper equipment, which is often expensive, to make a film. The Mnukwar crew have been teaching people how to use any media able to record moving images, such as a simple mobile phone, to create a film. Empowering people does not need to be expensive.

Website: www.mnukwar.or.id

Longing for Merdeka by Melissa McLeary

‘Longing for Merdeka’ is about the desire of the people of West Papua to gain independence from Indonesia. The film focuses on Herman Wainggai who escaped to Australia with 42 Papuan refugees on a traditional canoe. Since settling in Australia he continues to campaign for the self-determination of his people.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/32299332]

Indonesian Bishops Conference calls for Dialogue and an end to Violence in Papua

In a statement issued on  17 November 2011, the Indonesian Bishops Conference has called for an end to violence in West Papua and for dialogue. The statement reads in full as follows:Violence is still occurring in the Land of Papua despite repeated calls from various parties for the Papuan problem to be solved peacefully. The welfare of the people can only be realised in an atmosphere of peace  which makes it possible for all elements to work together peacefully. None of the many social problems in Papua can be solved with the use of violence. Violence leads to yet more violence and can only create new problems.. It is even worse  when expressions of opinion and political statements from any group in society which are made peacefully in public are met with threats of the use of firearms, with arrests, torture and killings.

We, the members of the Indonesian Bishops Conference, express our deep concern and strongly condemn the occurrence of acts of violence which show no respect for the dignity of human beings and threaten the right to life blessed by God.

Acts of violence against the Papuan people and the violation of their human rights go back a long way in history. The pain felt by the Papuan people because of their treatment is not something trivial that can be ignored or responded to with a few off-the-cuff statements. The central government should have the courage to adopt a firm attitude and  take a new approach which focuses on the interests and welfare of the Papuan people.

While expressing our concern and solidarity  for all the victims of violence, the Indonesian Bishops Conference issues the following call upon the Central Government:

*    We urge the Central Government to enter into dialogue with the Papuan community. The intentions expressed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when he first took office to solve the Papuan problem should now be put into practice. The path that should be taken is dialogue. Fine statements that have been made about ‘developing Papua with our heart’ should be put into practice with dialogue. With generosity of the heart and free from stigmatisation, the government should listen to calls from the Papuan people and what they have to say about their many sufferings since their integration into the Republic of Indonesia.

*    In order to enter into constructive dialogue with all the Papuan people, we urge the Government to facilitate meetings with various elements of Papuan society, the regional governments and the MRP (Majelis Rakyat Papua), in order to respond to their hopes regarding the method and content of dialogue

*    All groups which are struggling for Papua’s independence, whether they are called the OPM or groups with other names, including those at home and abroad, must be given the primary place in this dialogue. In order to guarantee that a dignified dialogue takes place in which there is mutual respect between the two sides, a third, trustworthy party should be brought in as the mediator.

*    In view of the many human rights violations that have been experienced by the Papuan people, the government must restore justice, apologise and restore the rights of the  Papuan people.

*    The law on Special Autonomy was intended to provide protection and special facilities for the Papuan in order to improve their living conditions.Many things provided for in the special autonomy law  have not yet materialised.  A huge amount of money is now circulating in Papua and the influx of migrants from outside Papua has been speeded up. In many sectors, the  Papuan people are being pushed out by these newcomers. We urge the central and regional governments to review the population situation and pay special attention to preparing the Papuan people be able to get the available jobs.

*    Far too many security forces of many different types have been deployed in the Land of  Papua. They have nothing positive to do in a way that would benefit  local community. The attitudes they take as well as the things they do all too often make them enemies of the community, not a force to safeguard the security and the sense of tranquillity of the community. We urge the government to reduce the number of TNI (soldiers) in  Papua and replace them with people of maturity who can become part of the local community, a force for the protection of the local community which can guarantee tranquillity for the people.


We, the members of the Indonesian Bishops Conference, hope that the government will pay attention to what we have  proposed. and we express our support for all the religious leaders and all those who are struggling for the realisation of a Peaceful Land of Papua.

Jakarta, 17 November, 2011


Mgr Martinus D.Situmorang,OFM                                                                                   Mgr Johannes Pujasumarta
Chairman                                                                                                                          Secretary-General

[Translated into English by TAPOL]

Papuan state leaders warn Papuan not to be provoked on 1 December

Bintang Papua, 17 November 2011The Federal Republic of West Papua (Republik Federasi Papua Barat) has issued an instruction to Papuan people everywhere  to beware of certain groups of people who will try to provoke the Papuan people to raise their flag, which will trigger a response from the security forces who may start shooting people. This is particularly necessary for 1 December which is Independence Day of the Papuan people.

The instruction was issued by Forkorus Yaboisembut, president of the Republic, and Edison Waromi, its prime minister.

The instruction was conveyed in a press conference  held by the spokesman of the transitional government, Jack Wanggai and a member of his staff, Heppi Daimboa, on Thursday.

He also said that  there are groups called the TPN which have been set up by the Indonesian army and police, who will try to provoke the Papuan people.

He also said that the name of the flag which until now has been publicised as Bintang Kejora is now called Bintang Fajar. This is in accordance with a decision taken at  th Papuan People’s Congress held from 24 May till 4 June, 2000 when it was decided to change the name of the flag from Bintang Kejora to Bintang Fajar. This decision was re-affirmed by a decision taken at the third Papuan People’s Congress  held from 17 – 19 October 2011, which also adopted decisions regarding the currency, and the seven tribal regions which are now called the seven federated states.

The President and the Prime Minister also called on  all Papuans to take part in thanksgiving prayers in locations that will be identified and should consist of peaceful actions, long marches and other activities. ‘Anything that happens outside these instructions are not the responsibility of the President and the Prime Minister,’ he said.

Call for Brimob persnnel to be withdrawn from Paniai

JUBI, 16 November, 2011

The shooting which is believed to have resulting in the deaths of eight local residents in Bayabiru who were illegally panning for gold in Degeuwo in the district of Bogobaida, Paniai, took place three days after Brimob troops arrived in Enarotali from Timika. Full details of the incident along with a chronology and the reasons for the shooting are not yet known.

‘If this is true, no one can accept what happened. We herewith demand that the Brimob troops be withdrawn from Paniai,’ said Yakobus Dumupa, a member of the MRP, the Majelis Rakyat Papua.

The chairman of the Paniai district Customary Council (Dewan Adat Daerah Pania)i, John NR Gobai, asked in a press release what was the reason for sending 120 Brimob troops to Paniai where the security situation can be described as conducive. ‘We are seeking an explanation about this from the local Brimob chief as well as the chief of police in the district.’ He said that the Brimob troops that had been deployed to Enarotali had for the first three days caused a great deal of anxiety and trauma among the local people.’There needs to be some campaigning and advocacy from the NGOs and we need to set up a fact-finding committee to prove that this is true,’ he said.

‘Someone must take institutional responsibility for what happened. This is not just a matter of some rogue member of the unit. If there is no response from the institution itself, then the people will have to make an issue of this. The MRP will set up its own team to investigate the shooting of eight local people.’ he said.

He strongly condemned the brutal action that of the security forces in Bayabiru, Degenwo.It happened at a time when a number of things had occurred that require special attention from the government.’These serious violations of human rights are putting a heavy strain on efforts to hold a dialogue between the Papuan people and the central government, And they suggest that it is the TNI and the police who are the ones who are the separatists the ones who are trying to cause disunity within the NKRI.’