Monthly Archives: September 2013

What should be the role of the Australian government as a member of the UN Security Council ?

Opinion / Analysis
By Herman Wainggai
September 11, 2013

Papuan women wearing the banned Morning Star flag as clothing at Manokwari demo to welcome Flotilla (Photo: West Papua Media stringers)
Papuan women wearing the banned Morning Star flag as clothing at Manokwari demo to welcome Flotilla (Photo: West Papua Media stringers)

Knowing  the history of the Indonesian state’s Army and Police invasion of West Papua there is no surprise in the fresh news of increased Indonesian military troops to the region, who are growing rapidly on this Melanesian ground like fertile mushrooms.

The Freedom Flotilla sailboat is currently on its voyage from Australian waters to the land of West Papua , and it has been confirmed that it is due to arrive within the next few days. Throughout the land of West Papua citizens and activists have been holding a number of peaceful demonstrations as a signal to welcome this boat. Thousands of West Papuans have bravely taken to the streets, high in enthusiasm and taking with them a variety of traditional instruments used in West Papua – ukuleles , guitars , drums , flute drums. They are also wearing traditional dress, and along with raising banners of the Freedom Flotilla sailboat, they are also displaying the national symbols of West Papua – the Morning Star flag.

This represents a challenge to and hope for the Indonesian government, that it ‘opens up’; that Jakarta demonstrates that it possesses genuine democratic maturity to negotiate peacefully with the political leaders of West Papua.  The people of West Papua, moreover, sincerely look forward to the newly elected Australian Federal government, especially in its new role as one of the member states of the UN Security Council, to act as a  mediator and by standards of international law help resolve the long running political conflict between the Indonesian government and the people of West Papua.

Demonstration welcoming Freedom Flotilla, Sorong (photo: supplied from Herman Wainggai, NFRPB)
Demonstration welcoming Freedom Flotilla, Sorong (photo: supplied from Herman Wainggai, NFRPB)

Our hope is that the precise opposite does not happen – that the Australian Government merely lets the Indonesian government continue to unilaterally kill the political, human rights and democracy activists of West Papua. This has been their lot for over 50 years – arrests, kidnapping, detention, shooting, killing, raping, long imprisonments.

The people of West Papua also hope that the Australian government will not forget this tiny Freedom Flotilla who will be facing the storm of the Indonesian military whose numbers have been newly swelled in the border area. Whatever happens, Australia needs to be assured that the people of West Papua will maintain their struggle to govern themselves, and will fight for that freedom by non-violent means.

The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua logo
The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua logo

The history of Indonesian brutality in West Papua over decades must be stopped by the international community, which includes Australia in its significant roles in the UN and  the Asia-Pacific region.  The data has been clearly documented from year to year – how long must West Papuans continue to be slaughtered like animals? The question is very pertinent then – what will be Australia’s role, and the USA and the United Nations – in regards to West Papua?  This land of the Mambruk – the beautiful Crowned Pigeon and symbol of Papua – which we love, shall we close our eyes and stop our ears to the injustices?

In the same way that attention is currently being given to the political situation in Syria, so must attention be given to the little Freedom Flotilla, and to the suffering people of West Papua, who have struggled for freedom and justice under the brutal regime of the military of the Indonesian state

Destroying sago trees will kill the Papuan people

JUBI,
6 September 2013

Merauke:  A member of the Regional Legislative Assembly of Merauke  has once against drawn attention to the activities now under way  by a company called PT Dongeng Prabawa. The crucial issue he raised relates to  the sago trees  belonging to the people living in various kampungs in the District of Ngguti.

‘I want to say to the company that  if the sago trees which have been protected and looked after by the Marind people for generations are felled  to make way for an investment project, you will be killing the indigenous Papuan people. Sago is the basic foodstuff for the indigenous people and it is unacceptable for the you to destroy their trees.’.

Hendrikus Hengky Ndiken said areas where the sago trees grow must not be dealt with in this way by the company. It is unacceptable for these areas where local people live to be exploited. What are the people going to eat if their source of food is destroyed?

He also insisted that the company abide by the agreement to pay for their land.which amounts to Rp30 billion. They must  pay up now and not pay in instalments. ‘They have billions of rupiahs so how can it be that they cannot  comply with their obligations to the people? If you can’t pay up, then you had better get out, he said.

He went on to say that he had visited a kampung called kampung Senegi and asked the people what they had received from the company. They said that they had received nothing except for a church.

The local district chief Romanus Mbaraks said that not all the trees belonging to the people had been destroyed. In some sacred areas, the people  had guarded their trees. ‘I ask the people to report to us if their sago trees have been destroyed by the company.’

Translated by TAPOL

 

Warinussy: Treason Charges against Aimas activists lack a proper legal foundation

COMMENT
by Yan Christian Warinussy,
Senior Lawyer and Executive-Director of LP3BH
7 September, 2013
The questioning of the five witnesses that has taken place during the trial of seven civilians in Papua in the Sorong  District Court who have been charged with Treason [makar] in accordance with Articles 106 and  108 of the Indonesian Criminal Code make it increasingly clear that the charges do not have a solid legal  foundation.

Yan Christian Warinussy (Photo: TabloidJubi.com)

This is evident from the  questioning of the five witnesses who were summoned by the Prosecutor on Tuesday, 2 September , namely Adjudant Commissioner [AKP]  Krisistya Artanto Octoberna ( Chief of Narcotics  Investigation at the police station in Sorong) and three others, as well as and a policeman from the same police station named Basuki Rahman.

During their questioning it is clear that they were all involved in the assault operation against the group of civilians from Aimas and they were all  in the vehicle which was on patrol  at the location of the incident. Furthermore, also travelling in the same vehicle was the Head of the Operational Unit of Sorong Police Force.

Two of the witnesses also said that they saw a group of people who arrived to attack a mobile patrol  who were armed with sharp implements but they had not seen the accused men [Isak Kaliaban and his colleagues].

When they  were asked by the legal counsel of the defendants from the Papuan Advocacy Coalition  for Justice in the Aimas Case  whether they possessed letters instructing them to appear, as is required by the Criminal Code, they said in reply that they did have the required documents.

This means that the five witnesses who were summoned by the Prosecutor on 26 August and on 2 September are all members of the Sorong Police Force and moreover, none of these witnesses produced any substantive legal facts which could be used as the basis for charging Isak Kalaiban and his colleagues.with Treason as stipulated in the indictments against the seven accused.

This means that the Investigation Report [BAP] which was drawn up by the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Sorong Police Force by the men being charged had not been correctly established as  required by law which means that their testimony should not have been considered by the panel of judges.which is headed by R.M Christian Kolibu.

Therefore, we, the members of   of the Papuan Advocacy Coalition for Justice in the Aimas Case, herewith state our determination to continue to defend the seven accused men in order to ensure that this case proceeds in strict accordance with the correct legal  procedures  and not in accordance with the manipulated charges being used to charge the seven accused  in accordance with the 1945 Constitution and Law 39/1999 on Basic Human Rights as well as other human rights provisions to which they are entitled in accordance with international  law which have been ratified and adopted by the Indonesian Government as a Member State of the United Nations.

In the forthcoming hearing which will take place on 9 September, the court will proceed to the stage of questioning each of the seven accused  each as witnesses of the other defendants, which is not permitted according to the laws in force and the principles of jurisprudence.

We are of the opinion that  the panel of judges should make it clear that the correct procedures will be adhered to in accordance with the Criminal Procedural Code, bearing in mind that this is what Papuan people would expect regarding the investigation procedures  as required by law in the case against Isak Kalaiban and his colleagues.

[Translated by TAPOL]

LP3BH Urges the President so Resolve the Papua issue by means of Dialogue

COMMENT by Yan Christian Warinussy,
Executive Director of LP3BH
8 September 2013
After carefully examining  theoretic aspects of the question of dialogue as the way of resolving several conflicts in various parts of the world, I wish to present a concrete proposal to Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [SBY], the President of Indonesia, regarding the question of resolving the conflict in the Land of Papua by means of dialogue.During a four-day visit to Geneva, I was able to become acquainted with efforts being made to resolve conflicts in other parts of the world such as South Philippines, Burma and Mali. It was clear to me that dialogue is an important method used in other conflicts in which Indonesia has been playing a positive role.

In my opinion, as we approach the end of the second term of he current presidency in 2014,  it is very important for SBY to resolve the  issue of Papua by involving all elements and components of the Papuan people.

As a defender of human rights in the Land of Papua, it is clear to me that as a consequence of resolving the issue of Papua, SBY would win acknowledgement as a world leader deserving widespread respect  for having resolved the issue of Papua, which will resonate also on his whole administration as well as the various political parties which support him.

The image of his administration  which is currently is  rather lopsided could be changed completely if he shows that he has a clear vision regarding the issue of Papua by using his authority to enter into dialogue with Papua before the end of 2013.

Moreover, it could have a positive impact in several of the major countries across the world and strengthen Indonesia’s position as a democratic country  which is respected by all the countries that are currently in close alliance with Indonesia..

[Translated by TAPOL]

West Papua Report September 2013

from West Papua Advocacy Team

This is the 113th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). Back issues are posted online at http://www.etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm. Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com. If you wish to receive the report directly via e-mail, send a note to etan@etan.org. Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1309wpap.htm

The Report leads with “Perspective,” an opinion piece; followed by “Update,” a summary of some developments during the covered period; and then “Chronicle” which includes analyses, statements, new resources, appeals and action alerts related to West Papua. Anyone interested in contributing a “Perspective” or responding to one should write to edmcw@msn.com. The opinions expressed in Perspectives are the author’s and not necessarily those of WPAT or ETAN. For additional news on West Papua see the reg.westpapua listserv archive or on Twitter.

CONTENTS

This month’s PERSPECTIVE is by retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer (and West Papua Report editor) Edmund McWilliams. His analysis assesses the implications of the U.S. government “pivot” to Asia for U.S. policy regarding Indonesia and West Papua. The U.S. re-focus toward Asia and the Pacific involves closer U.S. political, security and economic ties to countries of the region. These enhanced security ties, in particular, will mean diminished U.S. government attention to human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior by regional militaries the U.S. seeks as “partners,” including Indonesia.

In “UPDATE,” we note the U.S. government’s decision to proceed with the sale of eight Apache helicopters to the Indonesian military. More than 90 NGO’s had urged the sale not go forward, due in part the likelihood that it will employed in West Papua. A “freedom flotilla” has left Australia for West Papua. Indonesian officials have threatened to arrest participants. Jakarta may renege on it pledge to invite Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group nations to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Indonesian security forces have arrested scores of Papuans who sought peacefully to assert their cultural identity.

In this month’s “CHRONICLE,” we note an open letter by the Australia West Papua Association to the Pacific Islands Forum to take up the issue of West Papua and link to an interview with Benny Wenda carried by Democracy Now!

PERSPECTIVE

Implications of the “Asia Pivot” for U.S. Policy on Indonesia
by Ed McWilliams


The U.S.’s determination to “partner” with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably during the cold war. U.S. support for rightwing military dictatorships, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.


Senior U.S. administration officials continue to emphasize U.S. determination to pursue a greater focus on Asia and the Pacific. The “Asia Pivot,” according to senior Pentagon and State Department officials, reflects a growing realization in Washington of burgeoning trade opportunities presented by the economic dynamism of the region. At the same time, Washington is increasingly conscious of security challenges posed by the growing power of the Chinese military, as well as territorial disputes, notably in the South China Sea.

The Obama administration has sought to implement the pivot by strengthening existing security, political and economic ties with states in the region. In the security sector, the Obama administration has built upon relationships with regional forces established during the previous administration in the context of anti-terrorism.

The Obama administration’s expansion of ties to regional military forces, in Indonesia, but also in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Burma (Myanmar) have proceeded notwithstanding well-founded concerns that these security “partners” have well-documented histories of human rights violations, corruption, and undemocratic behavior. A number of these prospective security “partners” have records of repression of minorities. Vietnamese security forces played a key role in Hanoi’s policy of ethnic cleansing of the Montagnards, who have been forcibly displaced from much of their Central Highland homelands to make way for government-subsidized Vietnamese migrants. In Burma, despite significant democratic progress, Burmese security forces continue to carry out repressive measures against tribal groups.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, second from left, meets with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta, Aug. 26, 2013. DOD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

The Indonesian military (TNI) is Southeast Asia’s largest military. Thanks to a sprawling commercial empire of both legal and illegal businesses and a long history of a lack of accountability before Indonesia’s civilian court system, it remains largely beyond the control of the civilian government. It also continues to violate human rights with near impunity, as documented by the UN Human Rights Commission, international NGO human rights monitors, and even the U.S. State Department’s own annual human rights reports.

The TNI’s human rights record is most egregious in West Papua, the troubled region forcibly annexed by Indonesia in the 1960’s. That annexation proceeded absent any opportunity for the Papuan people to exercise their right of self-determination. The TNI has been the principal agent through which the Indonesian government has sought to enforce its control of the resource-rich region. The brutality of the TNI-backed occupation of West Papua, the ethnic cleansing entailed by decades of “transmigration” — government subsidized migration from within Indonesia to West Papua which has displaced Papuan peoples from their homes — and policies of malign neglect in the areas of health, education and development have raised credible charges of genocide.

The U.S. administration’s determination to partner with the TNI is reminiscent of previous administration’s partnering with corrupt and abusive militaries in the service of earlier geopolitical strategies, notably in the context of the cold war. U.S. support for the anti-communist Suharto dictatorship and with rightwing military dictatorships in Central and South America, Iran, and elsewhere, delayed democratic evolution in many countries and perpetuated extraordinary suffering.

The Obama administration’s Asia Pivot inevitably must be seen in the context of these earlier strategies which sacrificed human rights concerns, democratization, and principles of civil control of the military on the altar of security objectives. As in the past, the U.S. administration contends that closer U.S. cooperation encourages reform among its security “partners.” The military-to-military relationship with the Indonesian military during the 30-year Suharto dictatorship remained extremely close despite egregious the TNI’s human rights crimes and corruption. Indonesia’s illegal invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the subsequent occupation of that small country remained largely irrelevant to Washington’s pro-Suharto and pro-Indonesian military stance.

The saga of East Timor (now Timor-Leste), in the context of U.S. policy toward Indonesia includes a particular irony. The United States, throughout the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, accepted the occupation, maintaining that East Timor was “an integral part of Indonesia” with the caveat that “no genuine act of self-determination had taken place.” The U.S. consistently ignored Indonesia’s crimes in the territory, except when it was compelled to address them as a consequence of international media attention, such as the in the case of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. U.S. Congressional outrage and public pressure over that crime forced restrictions on U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia.  

The sad saga of West Papua contains parallels with that of East Timor. West Papua was also invaded and occupied by the Indonesian military with the backing of the U.S. The West Papuan people, like the East Timorese, have suffered extraordinary repression under Jakarta’s rule. The United States, echoing its previous stance on East Timor, has consistently stated that it regards West Papua as an “integral part” of Indonesia. The U.S. public stance on West Papua, however, differs from its previous position regarding East Timor insofar as the U.S. refuses to acknowledge that Papuans have not been afforded their right to self-determination.

It appears that this long-denied right, along with the Papuan’s right to live free from Indonesian repression, can not be accommodated in the context of Washington’s Asia Pivot. The recent sale of attack helicopters to Indonesia (see below) is the latest example of human rights concerns and fundamental civil rights, including the right to self-determination, being sacrificed on the altar of geo-political expediency.

UPDATE

U.S. Approves Sale Of Apache Helicopters to the TNI

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the sale of a squadron of eight Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI),  during a visit to Indonesia. The sale, which includes pilot training, associated radar, and maintenance support, is worth half a billion dollars over 10 years.


The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.


According to Indonesian officials, the sale includes no conditions governing how the aircraft are to be used. In the past, the U.S. government has imposed restrictions on the sale of weapons systems to the TNI as a means of reducing the possibility that those systems would be employed against civilians.

Last year, more than 90 international non-governmental organizations wrote to oppose the sale. Long standing U.S. congressional concern over the extremely poor human rights record amassed by the TNI appears not to have been taken into consideration by the U.S. administration. For over a decade, the U.S. sought to build a partnership with the Indonesian military notwithstanding that institution’s abysmal human rights record, corruption, and unwillingness to subordinate itself to civilian government control. An August 27 Jakarta Post report quotes Hagel as stating that he “welcomed the progress Indonesia has made in improving transparency and the protection of human rights.”

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team issued a joint statement condemning the sale. The groups said that “The new Apache attack helicopters will greatly augment the capacity of the TNI to pursue “sweeping” operations, extending TNI capacity to stage operations after dark and in ever more remote areas.” The sale of the helicopters “demonstrates that U.S. concern for greater respect for human rights and justice in Indonesia are nothing more than hollow rhetoric.”

Freedom Flotilla to Sail from Australia to West Papua

Police surrounding event in Sorong just prior to arrests of organizers (Photo: NFRPB/WPM sources)

Australian activists are sailing from Australia to Merauke in West Papua to demonstrate international concern over the denial of human and civil rights by Indonesia. The Freedom Flotilla is also as a cultural mission aimed at re-establishing millennia-old ties between the aborigine population of Australia and Papua.

Indonesia has threatened to block the flotilla by force. The flotilla, which has permission from local Papuans to land in their area, has been delayed by mechanical problems. Papuans in Merauke and elsewhere in West Papua have staged massive “welcome” demonstrations in support of the mission. In Sorong, police arrested four West Papuan leaders who organized a welcome ceremony for the flotilla.

Flotilla spokesperson Ruben Blake called Indonesian threats of arrest, force and naval interception “heavy-handed.” He noted that in the past the Indonesian government has gone to great lengths to prevent people from witnessing conditions in West Papua. He expressed concern for the safety of those participating in the peaceful mission:

“We believe that safety of a group of peaceful protesters who are going there on a cultural mission as well as a human rights mission should be respected. These threats that haven’t been ruling out the use of guns and force is a big concern. People around the world should be absolutely concerned about the safety of the people on board the boats.”

The Australian government has warned that it will not extend consular protection or assistance to flotilla participants.

Indonesia Accused of Reneging on Pledge to Invite MSG Delegation

Solomon Islands PM Lilo meets Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Photo: Prime Minister’s Office.

Rex Rumakiek, Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, accused the Indonesian government of reneging on its promise to invite a delegation of Foreign Ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to visit Jakarta and West Papua. Rumakiek, whose group petitioned the recent MSG summit for West Papuan membership, told Radio Australia that rather than inviting an MSG delegation, Jakarta has resorted to inviting the MSG nations to visit individually. Rumakiek noted that the Indonesian government is seeking to divide the group, which has been seeking to formulate a united MSG position on the question of West Papua’s status. Indonesia refunded the US$171,000 cost of a recent state visit by Solomon Islands prime minister to Indonesia.

Security Forces Stage Widespread Arrests as Papuans Assert Cultural Identity

West Papua Media has reported scores of arrests of Papuans who sought to organize peaceful demonstrations commemorating August 15, “a day intended to celebrate Papuan cultural identity and demand rights to free expression be respected.” The demonstrations were billed as “cultural parades,” assertions of Papuan cultural identity in the face of what West Papua Media sources described as a “deliberate campaign of cultural suppression by the Indonesian colonial security forces.”

The parades were held on the anniversary of the 1962 New York Agreement which began the process of Indonesia’s formal take over of West Papua. The parades were also to celebrate the opening of a new Free West Papua Campaign office in The Netherlands.

Despite widely-reported police statements that they would allow the parades to go forward, waves of arrests and other intimidation prevented several from taking place. Nevertheless, the events went ahead in Jayapura, Wamena and Biak.

Opposition to ConocoPhillips

The Forum to Care for Papua’s Natural Resources is opposing plans by ConocoPhillips to explore for oil and gas in West Papua. In a press release issued in Yogyakarta, August 31, the group said that ConocoPhillips “will only aggravate symptoms of social breakdown and environmental damage, as such corporations are only interested in their own profits, and do not care about the environment and Papuan indigenous people.” According to media reports the company reiterated its plan to carry out seismic testing in Boven Digoel and Pegunungan Bintang in 2014.

CHRONICLE

Open letter to Pacific Islands Forum Leaders

The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) (AWPA) has written an open letter to the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) leaders urged them to discuss the human rights situation in West Papua at the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro. Joe Collins of AWPA said, “We would like the Forum Leaders to follow the example of the MSG leaders who at their summit in Noumea, raised concerns about the human rights abuses in West Papua in their official communiqué. They also recognized the right of the West Papuan people to self-determination.”

Guardian Reviews West Papua History

The Guardian, August 29, published an article by Marni Cordell which offered a candid review of West Papua’s history. The article, “The West Papuan independence movement – a history,” notes that the Papuan struggle for self-determination continues, 40 years after a “sham ballot” through which Indonesia annexed West Papua.
 
Benny Wenda Interview

Benny Wenda, human rights defender and advocate for Papuan self-determination now living in exile in the United Kingdom, was interviewed on Democracy Now! in February, 2013. The video and full transcript of the interview were recently made available.

Link to this issue: http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/2013/1308wpap.htm

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