Manokwari: Although controversy is still raging about the Freedom Flotilla which has a number of Papuan activists on board, a group of Papuans who recently proclaimed the establishment of the Federal Republic of the State of West Papua (NRFPB) in Manokwari held a demonstration on 27 August. The demonstration which was organised by the NRFPB was highlighted by a number of Morning Star flags. The demonstration started from the office of DAP (Dewan Adat Papua – Papuan Customary Council) on Jalan Pahlawan and continued until 10am. In a speech at the demonstration, the deputy governor of NRFPB Markus Yenu called on all Papuans living in Manokwari to welcome the Freedom Flotilla which is sailing from Australia to West Papua.
Some of the scenes from the Manokwari August 28 mobilisations in support of the Freedom Flotilla (Photos: WPM stringers/ NFRPB)
Security forces composed of members of the Indonesian police force mounted a strong guard round the demonstration. The demonstrators marched round the City of Manokwari distributing leaflets proclaiming freedom for the Papuan people.
Morning Star flags were unfurled in several places but the security forces failed to take action. They just stood along the route without doing anything to confiscate the flags being carried by the demonstrators.
As has previously been reported, the Freedom Flotilla with Papuans on board as well as Aboriginals (Australia) who have expressed deep concern about the situation in West Papua is now sailing towards Papua New Guinea. From there, the Flotilla will sail to Merauke, West Papua. The Flotilla is due to arrive in West Papua at the beginning of September.
Indonesian police in Sorong, West Papua, yesterday arrested four leading Papuan customary leaders for organising a welcome celebration and prayer for the safe arrival of the Aboriginal-led Freedom Flotilla, currently sailing from Australia.
The four were arrested after over 200 armed police surrounded a peaceful prayer gathering at Marantha Church in central Sorong yesterday afternoon, after thousands of local people joined with religious and adat (customary) leaders, and leaders of the self-declared National Federated Republic of West Papua (NFRPB) alternative government, to express their solidarity with the aims of the Freedom Flotilla. The Freedom Flotilla is a journey being conducted with Aboriginal and West Papuan elders and Australian activists to highlight internationally the human rights situation in West Papua and is currently enroute sailing from Australia to West Papua.
Internationally renowned environmental defender, researcher and customary leader, NFRPB Sorong secretary Yohanis Goram, was arrested together with Apolos Sewa (Vice chair of Dewan Adat Papua, Greater Sorong), Amandus Mirino (NFRPB State Secretariat senior worker), and Samuel Klasjok (NFRPB’s alternative Chief of Police (Security) for region 3, Doberay). Sorong Police Chief Harry Goldenhad met with the organisers of the gathering, and initially “approved the activities with the proviso that they did not disturb the peace, and maintained security,” according to witnesses statements provided by established credible sources to West Papua Media.
Over 2000 people had gathered for the solidarity event that spilled outside the large church compound.
About 45 minutes after the prayer meeting had finished, as participants were preparing for a press conference with local media including such as Radar Sorong, West Papua Post, and Fajar Papua, Police Chief Goldenhad took ten heavily armed officers into the church and arrested the four activists.
According to local sources who spoke with police and activists, Based on information collected on site, the arrests were made in connection with the unfurling of the Morning Star, Aboriginal, and Torres Straits flags inside the church.
The four activists are still being held at Sorong Police headquarters according to local sources, and their condition is unknown. However grave fears are held for their safety, as these are the first West Papuans to be arrested over a connection to the Freedom Flotilla, which has attracted significant international media interest, and ignited major controversy and comment from Indonesian and Australian government ministers.
International human rights organisations have reacted quickly to the arrests, with Amnesty International (AI) in London expressing concern about the arrests of the four Papuan political activists. AI’s Indonesia and Timor-Leste Campaigner, Josef Benedict said that AI “believes they have been arrested and detained solely for their peaceful political activism and call for their immediate and unconditional release.”
“Amnesty International calls on the Indonesian authorities to respect the rights of Papuans to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly which are guaranteed in Article 19 and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party. Our organisation is concerned that the Indonesian government has consistently failed to make a distinction between violent armed groups and peaceful activists, and between peaceful expression of opinion and acts of physical violence, ” Benedict told West Papua Media by email.
Activists on board the Freedom Flotilla have reacted with dismay at the news of their supporters being targeted inside West Papua, but say this highlights the daily denial of Freedom of Expression for Papuan people, that originally motivated their plans for direct action.
Ronny Kareni, the spokesperson for the Freedom Flotilla said “It is shocking and yet not surprising, but completely unacceptable in this day and age that peaceful demonstrations of basic freedom of expression is censored in such an extreme way. We demand the immediate release of the 4 prisoners in Sorong.”
Kareni explained, “The arrests yesterday of the four Papuan leaders are a reflection of the reality that there is no space for democracy in Papua and West Papua Province under the Indonesian occupation, and yet foreign governments are complicit to these ongoing abuses. The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua is aiming to highlight this entrenched long-term brutality that is demonstrated by these arrests.
Arabunna elder, Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, the elder who inspired the journey, said in a statement to West Papua Media, “Indonesian government – you must immediately release those 4 prisoners and not to harm them in any way. They need to be released and not to be harmed because they have not committed a crime. We felt very sad when we seen it in the news today. We are waiting for the other mob to turn up here on Horne Island so we can work out how to respond a bit more but for now we need to ask all Australians to take a firm position on this issue, to be strong for Human Rights in West Papua. They are hurting them everyday, for years and regardless of the Freedom Flotilla this is happening, but we having a go, tryin’ to get the World to see, to look and listen and take a stand for these people. The Papuans have had it rough for too long with Indonesia there and this can’t keep going on. The prisoners must be released immediately”.
Izzy Brown, one of the organisers of the Freedom Flotilla said: “We are dismayed to hear that the peaceful act of prayer has resulted in such extreme actions by the police and military in West Papua, highlighting once more the lack of basic human rights and freedoms that we in Australia take for granted every day. We need immediate international pressure to be placed on the Indonesian government to ensure that no harm comes to these good people who have simply undertaken to express themselves in a democratic way.:
Kareni sums up the feeling of Flotilla members: “This is the time Australia, to stand up for people who are being militarily controlled and attacked for simply trying to have a voice.”
24 August 2013Jayapura: The Deputy Director of the Alliance of Democracy for Papua (ALDP), Yuman Corona, has called on all Papuans at home and abroad to press for the implementation of the recommendation by the Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papuan People’s Council) that the correct way to solve the Papuan problem is by means of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua.
‘At a plenary session held on 12 August 2013, the MRP said that Special Autonomy for Papua (OTSUS) has been a failure and there should be a dialogue between Jakarta and Papua. ‘
As has already been reported, the MRP called on the President, the Governor of Papua and the Governor of West Papua to carry this recommendation forward. The MRP recommendation stated that Dialogue should occur within the next sixty days.
In this connection, the ALDP, as part of civil society in Papua, made the following points:
1. The MRP which is the representative body of the Papuan people as stipulated in Law 21/2001, must be consistent and focus on the recommendation it adopted at its plenary sessions for a dialogue to take place.
2. Fully supports the policy and position adopted by the MRP which needs to be publicised to all the Papuan people.
The DPRP (Legislative Assembly of West Papua ) and the DPR PB (Legislative Assembly of Papua) ‘should both support the MRP recommendation and keep in close communication with the MPR. and convene plenary sessions in order to set up a PANSUS (Special Committee) for the Jakarta-Papua Dialogue.
It further called on the Governor of Papua and the Governor of West Papua to fully support the recommendation of the MRP and maintain close communications with the MRP (Papua) and the MRPB (West Papua) in order to work out their strategy and to make the question of Dialogue their top priority.
Furthermore, the President of the Republic of Indonesia should fully support the recommendation of the MRP for Dialogue as the way to solve the problem of West Papua in accordance with what he said in his State Address on 16 August 2011 regarding the resolution of the question of Papua and should set up a special committee in preparation for the Jakarta-Papua Dialogue and hold talks with various elements in Papua and Jakarta.
Furthermore, the DPR RI (National Parliament ) and the DPD RI (Assembly of Regional Representatives) should express their full support for the recommendation of the MRP as the way to resolve the Papuan issue. Commission 1 of Parliament should discuss this matter with the various political groups and commissions to declare their support for Jakarta-Papua Dialogue in order to resolve the Papuan issue.
Finally, he said: ‘Why do we (ALDP) support the idea of dialogue between Jakarta and Papua? Because this is the way to solve the problem without resorting to the use of violence. It is our vision to promote justice and a democratic process in Papua The MRP which is a legal institution must act to find the best possible solution for Papua.’
17 August 2013Efforts to deal with the spread of HIV/AIDS are clearly being made in many cities and districts in the Province of Papua. However, in the sub-district of Dogiyai, local people are concerned that the local government is not seriously dealing with this deadly virus.
A youth leader, Laurensius Tebay, said this week that dealing with this disease must be top priority, which means “more testing centers available for everyone – near you and near me (STD clinics)“. It is essential to spread information to the people that this virus is deadly and incurable. ‘We very much hope that the local government will deal with this problem with the seriousness that it merits,’ he said.
He said that as yet there have been no activities to inform people about the danger of the spread of HIV and AIDS, adding that this was the case in ten local areas. ‘We are very disappointed that the local authorities are failing to deal with AIDS with the necessary urgency.’
He said that spreading information and examining people with regard to HIV/AIDS has been proceeding well in the District of Paniai during the past month and this should be done in all the other areas, including the sub-district of Dogiyai. ‘While this is not something that should be made compulsory, the authorities should do everything possible to persuade people about how important it is to be examined.’
These views were confirmed in remarks made by the head of the Department to Combat HIV/AIDS, Kristianus Tebai who admitted that dealing with AIDS is a critically important part of the work of the health authorities. ‘Since I was recently appointed to this job, I have discovered that there are many issues that are not being dealt with properly. We are doing everything we can to improve work on this programme,’ he told JUBI. He said that combating the disease was going well in some sub-districts but not yet in the sub-district of Dogiyai.’
In a risky and symbolic act of defiance, unidentified West Papuan pro-independence activists raised the banned symbol of West Papuan liberation, the Morning Star flag, atop a foggy Mount Syclop, Sentani near Jayapura during the Indonesian Independence day on August 17 this year “as a form of celebration and rejection of the presence of Indonesian Papua, ” according to involved activists who spoke with West Papua Media (WPM) stringers.
The flagraisings came amid a tit-for-tat psychological operations campaign ahead of August 17 by Indonesian occupation forces to raise the Merah Putih (Red/White) Indonesian national flag on prominent landmarks across Papua, and increase demands on Papuans to fly it publicly demonstrate their loyalty to Indonesia, according to a wide variety of human rights and church sources in Papua.
Organisers told WPM the act, on a mountain that could be seen from most the Papuan capital Jayapura, was about questioning the legitimacy of Indonesian occupiers to claim that all Papuans supported integration with Indonesia, and Jakarta’s claim that “Papua returned to the embrace of the Homeland.”
“Any person who was born and raised in Papua has been brought up with (the official line of the) ‘Victorious Political Integration in the NKRI, (and has) of course heard the above phrase repeatedly. This phrase has become a powerful force in the politics of integration. The Indonesian government and military believed and are so convinced that the political integration of West Papua is “absolute” they cannot answer the questions that the people of Papua ask,” the activists told WPM.
They continued their statement: “On behalf of the Nature of Papua, on behalf of the bones of revolutionary heroes who have gone before us, on our behalf and on behalf of our children, we strongly reject the claims of an Indonesian Papua. Indonesian historians were so convinced that West Papua was breathing into the territory of several ancient empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit, Sultanate of Tidore, until the time of the Dutch East Indies. Indonesia believes it is the absolute truth, the validity of its claims of West Papua as an integral part of Indonesia. But on the other hand, shame records that the history that Indonesian historians were not able to show the valid, complete and accurate data to prove the truth of what they believe it.”
“As a form of resistance we Papuans assert our Independence of the illegal Indonesian colonial occupation of our land Papua, then we burn the flag and hoisted the flag of our “Morning Star” in the mountain region Syclop,” said the activists to WPM’s stringer.
“We do this not for Indonesian attention , nor to requested positions, (those) certain positions in the country’s NKRI (colonial) bureaucracy…. (but as) a form of resistance against colonial occupation of Indonesia (who are) illegally on our land. That we demand and fight for “Self-determination” through an international mechanism that is Referendum,” the flag raisers said.
Although traditionally raised on December 1 – the anniversary of the 1961 thwarted declaration of West Papua’s independence from the Dutch, and the first flying of the flag – activists claim that it was flown atop Mount Syclop to “remind Indonesia that the people of West Papua(n) nation (have) rejected the (Indonesian) pro-independence and did not participate in the anniversary celebrations.”
Indonesian colonial forces regularly attempt to enforce compulsory celebrations of Indonesia’s independence day by West Papuan people, an act many Papuans believe is designed to suppress Papuan cultural identity.
Flag raising is seen by Indonesia as a deeply political act that determines the degree of a citizen’s loyalty to the nation. Failure to display the Merah Putih was regularly used throughout Indonesian history as a justification to extreme political violence, for example the killings of close to 2 million Indonesians during the 1965-1969 bloodbath in the first days of former dictator Suharto’s New Order regime, and the scorched-earth campaign on East TImor ending in 1999 when Indonesian security forces and militias murdered well over 180,000 civilians. Civilians in Military operations areas (whether declared or not) across Indonesia and its colonies are regularly warned by security forces to display the Red and white in order to avoid sweep operations targeting their homes. Public buildings are draped in it, private businesses are threatened by security forces if they fail to display it, and school children are bedecked in Red and White uniforms and forced to salute the flag daily.
Display of any cultural symbols or expression in opposition to the Merah Putih are interpreted by Jakarta as acts of makar (treason, subversion or rebellion) instead of acts of free expression guaranteed under the Indonesian Constitution. However, Article 6 of Government Regulation 77/2007, prohibits the display of the Morning Star, the South Maluku Republic Benang Raja flag in Ambon and the Crescent Moon flag in Aceh – despite the provision of the law in the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) being been declared unconstitutional for prohibiting free expression, by the Indonesian Constitutional Court.
Indonesian security forces, since their invasion of West Papua, have imprisoned thousands of people for their involvement in raising the banned Morning Star flag, and have violently broken up almost every display of the Morning Star, resulting in thousands of deaths over the last 50 years. Each December 1 – traditionally the anniversary of West Papua’s thwarted declaration of independence in 1961, Over 90% of the current 56 political prisoners in Papuan gaols are imprisoned under makar for non-violent acts involving the Morning Star flag, including most famously Filep Karma, one of Papua’s longest serving political prisoners, who was gaoled for 15 years for his role in organising the December 1, 2004 flagraising in Abepura.
On August 14, Indonesia’s colonial police chief in Papua Tito Karnavian (the former commander of the notorious Detachment 88 “Counter-terror” death squad supported by Australia,the US and UK), drove a group of Indonesian police, military,and management of the giant Freeport McMoRan Grasberg mine in heated luxury four-wheel drives, claiming they held a ceremony atop Papua’s highest peak, the 4844-metre high Nemangkawi (known by the Indonesians as Puncak Jaya), in order to raise Indonesia’s flag of conquest over Papua. Participants in the ceremony claiming to be Papuans were families of senior Freeport employees, an Indonesian army unit known as the “Pasukan Koteka Papua” and soldiers wearing blackface make-up. However the ceremony did not occur at the peak of Nemagkawi, rather in the grounds of the Grasberg mine site some 800 metres below the peak. The Merah Putih still does not fly atop the famous summit (one of the “Seven Summits”), according to independent sources in TImika contacted by WPM.
On December 1 2011, Christian Welponer, a world famous mountaineer from the autonomous South Tyrol region of the Italian-Austrian Alpine border regions, released a video of him raising the Morning Star flag atop Nemangkawi. The act was deeply significant to West Papuan people, who sustained many casualties from Indonesian state violence inflicted on peaceful ceremonies across Papua that day. The act infuriated Indonesian officials in the Freeport surrounds, who failed to prevent Welponer from carrying out the symbolic solidarity action.