Monthly Archives: March 2014

Manokwari Tastes the Bitterness of Oil Palm

By Pietsau Amafnini at Jasoil
First Published: March 2, 2014

Little by little, people start to taste the bitterness of oil palm.

It came as a big shock to both the indigenous people and residents of the transmigration settlements in SP8 to SP10 Masni and Sidey, Manokwari regency. Heavy rain all night long eventually meant that by the morning of 16th February 2014 the calm atmosphere of the night before had been turned to panic. Nikson Kasi, a volunteer for Jasoil Tanah Papua, reported that in his village Mansaburi, floodwaters were assailing the village. The Wariori River, which passes through PT Medco Papua Hijau Selaras’s oil palm plantation, had burst its banks with the volume of water from the mountains upstream.

At least 139 houses in Mansaburi village, Masni District, Manokwari, West Papua Province were swept away by the floods. There were no fatalities, but damage to property is estimated at billions of Rupiah. Even sadder is the news that people’s crops and livestock were also washed away by the floods as they charged through the oil palm plantation.

According to Nikson’s account, the floodwaters rose at about 04.30 AM. The river’s levees were breached and a flash flood struck houses that lay behind them. The Mansaburi village head, Robert Gasang confirmed that 139 houses had been destroyed by the current. The 700-or-so residents were forced to evacuate to escape the rising waters of the Wariori river, as heavy rain continued for the next two days, even though the level of flooding receded.

“We’re just worried, what it next time the rain continues for two or three days? Well now we’ve tasted the bitterness of oil palm after this flood”, said Demmy Safe, an activist with Jasoil Tanah Papua whose home is also close to the site of the flooding. Nikson continued, “even though there were no fatalities, the flood has wiped out people’s gardens, including rice, chilli, beans, tomatoes and other plants. Farm animals were also swept away by the floods”

Local residents, who came as part of transmigration programs or on their own initiative, say that previously, when the only plantation was that of PTPN II Prafi, flooding wasn’t particularly often seen. Now flooding has become a constant threat to the people because forests have been cleared [by Medco] as far upstream as the mountains, and so people have started to be worried that the floods will keep coming back. Especially in the rainy season like now, we always have to be on our guard, because when the big disaster comes it will not give notice beforehand.

Translated by awasMifee

[translator’s note: this article claims that houses were swept away (hanyut) by the floods. I’ve kept that dramatic term in my translation, although would point out that other media accounts have said that houses were merely severely damaged. (rusak parah).]

Historic united front in Papua defies police dispersals, supporting Vanuatu PM call on UNHRC in Geneva to address West Papua issue

News wrap-up

March 4 2014

from the West Papua Media correspondents in Jayapura and Geneva, with local sources

A broad united front of disparate Papuan civil resistance groups has come together to hold Peaceful gatherings across West Papua, in support of  Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses’ call for international action on West Papua at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today.

PM Carcasses used his ten minute address at the High Level segment of the 25th Session of the UNHRC to reiterate a call made at the UN General Assembly last September, for the UN to establish a specific Country Mandate on the situation of human rights in West Papua and to revisit honestly its role in the fraudulent Act of Free Choice of 1969.

The Vanuatu PM, long a champion for his fellow Melanesian’s right to self-determination in West Papua, used an impassioned speech to highlight “grave injustices facing West Papuan people” and to demand the international community take concrete action to end the suffering.

“In a world so closely connected with innovative technology, there should be no excuses about the lack of information on human rights violations that have plagued the Papuan people for over 45 years.  Search the Internet and research papers by academic institutions and international NGOs, and you will find raw facts portraying the brutal abbuse of the rights of Melanesian people in Papua,” Carcasses noted.

The Prime Minster beseeched the Human RIghts council.  “But why are we not discussing it here in this Council?  Why are we turning a blind eye to them and closing our ears to the lone voices of the Papuan people, many of who have shed innocent blood because they want justice and freedom.  Many are the martyrs that have been persecuted and brutally murdered because they carry the unspoken fears of the millions now living in fear in the valleys and lofty mountains of Papua.  They are demanding recognition and equality and a respect for their human rights and to live in peace.  Will this August council hear their cries and now go forward to protect their human rights and put right all the wrongs of the past?”

Carcasses told the UNHRC that “The mandate should include the investigation of the alleged human rights violations in West Papua and to provide recommendations on a peaceful political solution in West Papua.”

Earlier on Tuesday in West Papua, the vibrant gatherings  – organised by university students and supported by a broad coalition of civil society and pro-independence groups – were predictably dispersed forcefully by Indonesian occupation forces, however organisers claimed success in expressing their aspirations peacefully and without bloodshed.

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Significantly for the struggle for self-determination in West Papua, the participant groups included the widest range of Papuan resistance components seen together for over ten years, with the united front coalition pulling together previously opposing groups under a common banner of supporting the Vanuatu Prime Minster’s efforts to get West Papua on the international agenda. Activists and leaders from the West Papua National Authority, National Federated Republic of West Papua, West Papua National Committee, the Papuan Women’s Movement, Papuan Traditional Council (DAP), West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, GaRDA-Papua , FRONT PEPERA , The Street Parliament (PARJAL), Papuan Student Movement (GEMPAR or “Uproar”), AMPTPI (Association of Central Highland Papuan Students), KMPB (Coalition of Papuan students Rise!), Papuan Students Alliance (AMP), Christian Youth Solidarity Papua (SKK-P), Papuan People’s solidarity for Democracy and Human Rights (SHDRP), all agreed to support the UNHRC support action being coordinated by the Student Executive council at Cenderawasih University in Abepura.

Led by University and high school members of the Movement of Papuan Students (GEMPAR or “UPROAR”), the mass gathered early on Tuesday morning in front of the the Cenderawasih University (Uncen) campuses at Waena and Abepura, erecting a large banner that read “The people of West Papua nation, support the Government of Vanuatu pursuing violations of human rights committed by the Government of Indonesia in West Papua”.  Speeches were made outside the campus entrance until 1025am local time, when Indonesian police from Jayapura station attempted to forcibly disperse the protesters listening to speeches.

According to witnesses, over a hundred Police in 6 trucks, 1 Panzer and 1 Police Bus were on standby, and were heavily armed.  However as the  group of students passed towards Waena, Police from Sentani and Jayapura amassed at the field of They Eluay’s tomb with a full unit of motorcycle commando police (Gegana), eight trucks and three armoured cars.  A platoon of heavily armed Brimob police at Post 7 Sentani completed the kettling of students to keep them confined.

Every place throughout the Waena, Sentani and downtown Jayapura  was guarded by several platoons of heavily armed Brimob police to prevent students and protestors from gathering.  An organiser told West Papua Media’s stringer, “This is a police action in Papua that prohibits students to express their opinions, through peaceful demonstration.”

Students then all gathered to rally silently at the UNCEN yard fence and spread a large banner, displaying  photographic evidence of Indonesian Security force’s violence against Papuan People.

An academic at UNCEN, Seth Wambrau, told the gathering, “These police officers, silencing democracy in Papua, this is the example that there is no freedom for students to express opinions freely, it is proving colonialism in Papua is happening.. Special autonomy is specific to the officials of Papua, not the Papuan people!”

The events were ended by Gempar peacefully in the afternoon with no arrests.

Further manifestations occurred in Fak-Fak on the west coast, Merauke on the south coast, and in Manokwari, according  to local reports.  The Fak-Fak gathering included a deeply sacred traditional pre-Islamic indigenous thanksgiving prayer and coffee ritual for the UNHRC plea for international attention to West Papua by Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil.  Members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and Regional People’s Parliament (Parlemen Rakyat Daerah, PRD) provided a security cordon to enable traditional elders and chiefs in Mamur village,  Kramomongga district to hold ceremony in support of the Vanuatu delegation’s efforts to bring the world’s attention to West Papua.

According to a description from KNPB participants of the ceremony, the elders then rejected wholly the powers of darkness and evil of all the Indonesia’s power system in West Papua. “After all this ritual is done, then the placenta from the Child returned to the Land, the mother land West Papua, who gave birth to all things, and all life is God’s nation of West Papua. Then all the evil forces of the Republic of Indonesia in Papua were symbolically collected by Mr. Haji Idris Papua Patiran, and were discarded by KNPB security, at least 100 meters from where the activity was taking place in Mamur,” the witnesses described. A procession then occured with a ritual washing of all gathered with the “water of life, in order to reconcile all the people with nature and clean the whole self of any desire to be children of the mutually hostile land.” a sacred representation of the West Papuan desire for independence. The ceremony was finished by the ritual serving of coffee.

The new West Papuan People’s movement (WPM’s term due to lack of official name) united front released a joint statement detailing the litany of suffering of West Papuan people, and demanded:

1 . People of West Papua are demanding to exercise the right of Self-Determination as recognised by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights
2 . The UN must immediately take responsibility for the violations of human rights that have occurred in West Papua.
3 . People of West Papua ask the UN Human Rights Council to immediately form a special team to investigate all human rights violations in West Papua
4 . People of West Papua urged MSG member countries, specifically Vanuatu, to send a special team to examine and investigate cases of human rights violations that occurred in the region of West Papua.
5 . People of West Papua urge UN member States to immediately urge the Indonesian government to open up democratic space in West Papua.
6 . People of West Papua are asking the UN for the legal protection, over the application of the Wanted Persons List (DPO) to Buchtar Tabuni (chairman PNWP) and Wim Rocky Medlama (Spokesman KNPB), and all West Papuan independence activists.
7 . People of West Papua thank the People and the State Government of Vanuatu for the willingness to bring issues of human rights violations to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Below: Videos from today’s gathering in Abepura. Credit KNPB/Nesta Gimbal)








westpapuamedia

STOP DANCING ATOP OF SUFFERING OF THE PAPUAN COMMUNITY!

Opinion

By Rufinus Madai

February 28, 2013

For 13 years now  government officials in Papua have been enjoying the benefits of the millions of Indonesian rupiah that has come its way thanks to the Special Autonomy package given by the Indonesian Government; and it’s undeniable that government officials at the provincial level as well as at the regency (local) level of the bureaucracy have allowed themselves to be ‘bought’ by this money.

They have allowed themselves to be bought in the way they think, at the level of their conscience and in regards to their sensitivity to the reality of what’s going on around them.  As a result of their ‘selling-out’, in every instance it’s the Papuan community that ends up suffering the consequences, suffering the loss.  The little people.

One can’t help wondering why in this era of Special Autonomy with all the money it brings into Papua, are we still seeing the constant suffering of the indigenous Papuan community.  Why are there still the constant injustices, the mistruths, the inequalities of the legal system and the destructive conflict that’s dragging on forever?  In fact one starts to ask the question whether the Special Autonomy is actually playing a role in creating that suffering.

Strange that in this ‘Special Autonomy’ era and with all the money that flows through that program, that the government bureaucrats are sucking the life from the Papuan community by selling off the resources of the land on which the people totally depend for survival, and meanwhile they stand idly by watching  the endless violations of the indigenous Papuan’s human rights.

The people are repressed, treated with inhumane cruelty, objectified, detained, chased, labeled separatists and even killed.   In receiving  such wealth for their ‘services’ they have become like purchased puppets of the Indonesian government.   Is it any wonder with these realities so obvious that the Papuan community time and again shows its distrust of the bureaucrats of the Indonesian government in Papua?

Whilst they enjoy the luxuries that millions of rupiah from Special Autonomy bring, the basic rights of the people are not even being considered and their sufferings go on and on without end.  We are not referring here to one remote corner of Papua but rather this is going on throughout the entire land of Papua.

The systems, policies and laws which have been created together with the Central Government to date have not only failed to bring benefit, but in fact have brought great loss to the indigenous Papuan community.   Such loss, that the  community has become convinced that the laws and policies created  for application in Papua are intended to repress and eventually annihilate the indigenous Papuan community from the land.

The government bureaucrats at the Papuan level are involved up to their necks! It’s as if they have become enchained to the big money Special Autonomy brings and they can’t break free.  Bought by the system.  No matter what they do or what decision they make under these circumstances whether regarding laws, policies or other, that will always be determined according to these ties.  Their decisions and actions are not based on good conscience made to address the needs of the people. The consequence being that the little people become the victims.

Until this time there have been no positive changes whatsoever brought about by the development programs as implemented by the government in Papua.  How could there be as the reality is that these programs in whatever form they may be, are not based on a recognition of the basic rights of the Papuan indigenous community!

They are not programs that help with poor education, or which address structural poverty or people’s basic human rights.  The Papuan community is well aware of this and believes that programs being implemented in Papua are simply those intended to support the vision , goals and programs of the National Indonesian Government.  Programs which increasingly marginalize the Papuan indigenous population, creating colonial domination, structural poverty, overpowering of the local community and ultimately leading to the death of the Papuan indigenous community.

The Papuan community is also well aware  of the way the two Provincial Papuan Governments to date have been operating,  acting  always in ways that prioritises their own tax revenue income whilst trampling on the land of the little people. Yet at the same time taking no actions in those areas where the community needs social laws to protect the people such as regarding the abuse of alcohol and the provision of sexual services.

The Indonesian Government knows it has ‘bought’ these government officials and that they are now tied tightly to and dependent on the National Indonesian Government.  Money speaks and in the same way money effectively silences voices concerning the constant human rights violations that are taking place right across the land of Papua.

However in spite of their having allowed themselves to be bought by the Indonesian government, nevertheless the Papuan community continues to hope that those Papuan  Government officials referred to will turn back to the people. That in so doing that they will  stop ‘selling out on’  the little people  of Papua, stop dividing the land further which in so doing divides the people,  stop making decisions in the interests of their own power and wealth and  stop acting in ways that support the vision and programs of the National Government and extending the conflict in Papua yet further.

The Papuan community continues to hope that the Papuan Government leaders will reject Special Autonomy so that they may not be dependent and tied in such ways to Jakarta. Continues to hope that these leaders finally may have the courage to themselves assert what policies and concepts of development are needed that truly support and are able to bring about improvements in the welfare of the ordinary people.

Such that the Papuan community might determine its own future on its own land.  Such that the paradigm of Papuans as being primitive, ignorant people who need others to organize them may come to an end. The little people of Papua have waited faithfully so long and yet still the tears flow without ceasing.

“May they who have ears to hear listen, may they who have eyes see,  and may they who have hearts and minds consider carefully and arrive at those  decisions that are right and that is acceptable to all persons.”
The Writer is a post graduate student at the Catholic Seminary in Abepura, Papua.