Bobii: The Challenge of the MSG Delegation Visit to Jakarta and Papua

Opinion / Analysis

By: Selpius Bobii in Abepura Prison

15 July 2013

The planned visit by a delegation of member Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to Jakarta and West Papua arose as a decision of the MSG Forum held on 16 June 2013 in Noumea. The Foreign Ministers of Fiji, PNG, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Kanak and FLNKS are to visit Jakarta and West Papua within the coming six months, with the delegation to be led by the Fijian Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kabuabola.

The decision was also in response to an earlier invitation from the Indonesian Government made directly by the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs (POLKAM) Djoko Suyanto on 3 June 2013 at the moment he met with the Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama (who at that time the Chairperson of the MSG). The question begs why did Indonesia invite members of the MSG to Jakarta and Papua before the MSG Forum was even under way in June? Without a doubt in making that invitation the Republic of Indonesia (RI) had a particular motive (or motives) that undoubtedly was aimed at achieving the State’s own interests. But what exactly was the true motive behind that invitation?
Indeed Indonesia wanted to obstruct the process of the application for MSG membership by West Papua. In early 2013 the West Papuan National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) had submitted an application for full MSG membership for Papua however at the 19th MSG Summit the leaders supported a recommendation of Foreign Ministers to delay any final discussion and decision on the matter until a delegation of the MSG member Foreign Ministers visited Jakarta and Papua. If Indonesia’s primary motive in making that invitation before the Summit was to obstruct the processing of the application, then they succeeded in doing so.

The second possible motive behind the invitation is that there is potentially much to be gained by having the MSG Foreign Ministers come into Indonesia’s own domain. In particular during that visit RI will be working to develop a working partnership with the MSG on the issue of West Papua but no doubt they’ll be making much effort to build partnerships around a range of matters. The second step following the delay of the MSG’s decision is to deceive the MSG Delegation as to the truth of what’s going on inside Papua. They’ll be looking to do this in a number of ways including unilateral political rhetoric and the engineering of data regarding the situation inside West Papua.

Indonesia and its allies during these next months are going to be making significant ‘efforts’ to prevent West Papua being accepted as a member of the MSG. If the MSG Delegation becomes convinced through these ‘efforts’, that indigenous Papuans’ welfare will be better served by Papua remaining a part of the Republic of Indonesia then that will indeed be a fatal blow for Papua’s application. Clearly RI is going to be putting forward as evidence of their efforts, its packages of ‘Special Autonomy’ and more recently the new version ‘Special Autonomy Plus’. However the fact is that throughout the 12 years to date with Special Autonomy in place that indigenous Papuans have suffered from in fact a continued increase in the frequency of human rights violations as well as from discrimination, marginalization, injustice and being made a minority in their ancestors land.  All of which are now leading towards a slowly moving genocide against the ethnic West Papuan race.  Papuans have no illusions that there’ll be any positive difference under the new Special Autonomy Plus regulations as the characteristics of the Republic of Indonesia (RI) are not about to change and neither is Indonesia’s attitude towards Papua of taking over and plundering the natural resources whilst ‘eradicating’ the land of its indigenous inhabitants. The reality is that Indonesia is a colonizer and as long as Papua remains part of Indonesia the people of Papua will never experience physical and spiritual peace and prosperity.

It’s going to be absolutely critical that the MSG Foreign Ministers Delegation in their visit to Jakarta and Papua, show extreme caution and a highly selective process in their acceptance of data and information given by the Indonesian Government and those groups that are pro-Indonesian. As that data and information will of course become the basis for determining whether West Papua’s application for MSG membership will be accepted or not. If it eventuates that Papua’s application is rejected by the MSG then there may be more bad news to come as it’s likely that in that case RI will be given permanent observer status at the MSG. It’s quite likely that RI was aiming to create a situation where they could control what data was provided to the MSG regarding Papua when they invited the MSG to visit.

. If we look very carefully and at depth at the situation, one can see that there is a major scenario being created by RI at present to break-down the strength of the democracy (both legally and politically based) that arose as a result of the Papuan National Congress III (the Congress) on 19 October 2011 in Abepura when the forum declared the return of the sovereign independence of the nation of Papua in the State of West Papua and as a legal basis of the highest form created the state of the Federal Republic of West Papua. The Indonesian Government has been most concerned since that time to ensure that the declaration of the restoration of the sovereign independence of the nation of Papua is not acknowledged by other nations of the world or by the MSG Forum. A situation which could ultimately lead to recognition of the same by the United Nations (UN). In anticipation of that possibility the State of Indonesia has undertaken whatever means possible since the Congress to break-down the Papuan community’s democratic, political and legal strength that resulted from the Congress and RI’s allies have been supported those efforts.

The recent announced delays in the MSG decision regarding Papuans membership application caused some blaming within Papuan activist circles. If RI and its allies succeed in preventing the nation of Papua becoming an official member of the MSG then this finger-pointing will no doubt become more serious and this will undoubtedly have destructive consequences for the Papuan Struggle. Whether indigenous Papuans are aware of it or not, we are now entering this major scenario created by RI and its allies intended to paralyze and incapacitate the political and legal strength of the Papuan democracy.

Some of the more common political maneuvers of RI that have been used by the State until this time against the people of Papua need to be stated in black and white, as its highly probably they’ll be used in some form or another during the upcoming visit of the MSG Delegation to Jakarta and West Papua. RI is highly skilled in engineering situations and whenever there are intended visits by human rights related groups or official foreign representatives to Papua, all hands and feet of the Indonesian State work together to create anarchy in the land of Papua. So that RI  can allege that Papua is unsafe for foreign visitors and the world doesn’t question that. (Editor’s Note: Bobii is prescient with this observation.  RI Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Radio Australia that he is open to foreign media access to Papua, but only if conditions are “safe” – “Our concern is an issue of security and safety,” he said. “There are elements in Papua who are keen to obtain international attention by bringing harm to international personalities including journalists.” )

This tactic was seen recently with the planned visit by the UN Human Rights special Observer Hina Jilani. It’s so important for Papuans to be able to welcome in a customary way official foreign visitors and human rights of UN delegations; however Indonesia’s armed forces have never to date allowed that to occur. Rather Indonesia’s hands and feet on the ground in Papua create a range of incidents to prevent those visits going ahead. If as the time draws near for the MSG Delegation to visit Papua, RI yet again creates a situation stating they can’t allow the visit to go ahead due to security risks in Papua, then the MSG Delegation will be forced to use other means to meet with and receive official reports from the representatives of the different components of the nation of West Papua.

RI is also an expert at applying tactics so as to ensure there is absolutely no opportunity for a delegation of foreigners visiting Papua to meet with the different components of the community that struggle for liberation of Papua from the colonial domination of RI. A recent example of this was seen with the intended visit of the American Congressman Eni Faleomavaega to Biak and Manokwari in November 2007.

Having become accustomed to these common practices of RI, the Papuan community is most concerned what similar occurrence is likely to be seen at the time of the visit by the MSG Foreign Ministers Delegation to West Papua. It’s highly likely that the Indonesian armed forces will act to prevent the Delegation being able to access the different components of the nation of Papua who until now have struggled for the independence of West Papua. It is probable that RI will once again create a scenario at that time to ensure that the MSG Delegation only meets with the Governor and Indonesian appointed provincial government level assemblies – Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Papua(DPRP) and Majelis Rakyat Papua(MRP) –  those groups and  organizations that are pro- Indonesian and certain pro-Indonesian churches.

Obviously if the MSG Delegation only meets with those who are pro-Indonesian then of course they will accordingly only receive data and information that will suggest that all is just fine in Papua; pro-Indonesian voices will convey that any problems in Papua have already been overcome and that RI is now focusing on the next step of welfare development in the region. This was precisely what occurred when the Netherlands Ambassador for Indonesia visited on 3 July 2013. So in order to obtain balanced and accurate information regardless of what the situation is like, we dearly hope that the members of the MSG Delegation will make every effort possible to meet with the different components of the Papuan community that are pro-Papuan Independence and also to meet with Papuan Freedom Political Detainees who are incarcerated in the Indonesian Colonial Prison.

The other ‘special skill’ of RI in manipulating and engineering situations is that they are absolute masters at political rhetoric and seducing and persuading. Whether with financial offers , offers of expensive objects or sexual favors. Of course Papua’s most bitter memory of these tactics was in 1969 when RI took the chosen 1026 Papuans who would vote to determine the fate of Papua (in representation for more than 800,000 Papuans)were taken to Java where they stayed in luxury hotels and were provided with sexual services then later given handsome sums of money and objects. These well known practices of RI are to mention of course just a few that the nation of Papua and even foreigners who visit Papua have seen on endless occasions.

Indeed the MSG Delegation is going to face a really onerous challenge when it visits Jakarta and Papua in the very near future to get a first-hand idea of the situation in Papua. The points provided above are intended as a pre-warning of what is likely to occur during that visit and it’s hoped will assist the MSG Delegation in comprehending the real meaning of the Indonesian armed forces at that time. It is also hoped that these points might also benefit visitors of other nations or UN delegations who may visit West Papua into the future.
For the attention of all components of the nation of Papua wherever you may be, please let this be an early warning for us all so that we don’t become complacent with that which was achieved at the 19th Summit of the MSG in Noumea. As the matter of the membership of West Papua in the MSG is still undecided and will not be decided until after the MSG Delegation visits Jakarta and Papua sometime within this coming 6 months. Let us consolidate and unite and start at this very time to take real steps to bring about Internal Political Consensus for the nation of West Papua, so that we’re able to establish our membership at MSG and in doing so stand on solid ground. So that the world hears us as one voice, with one goal being the liberation of West Papua.

To the international community in solidarity with Papua throughout the world, please we ask you to remember your critical role at this time and our need for your help in supporting and strengthening the members and forum of the MSG. So that they individually and together are able to maintain their commitment in urging for the process of self-determination for the nation of Papua.

Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA &  is Papuan Freedom Political Detainee held at Abepura Prison, Jayapura

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