Monthly Archives: April 2015

West Papua Oil Palm Atlas: The companies behind the plantation explosion

From our hardworking partners at AwasMIFEE

April 30, 2015

West Papua Oil Palm Atlas:
The companies behind the plantation explosion.

-a comprehensive investigation into the oil palm industry in West Papua,
published by awasMIFEE and Pusaka, together with local Papuan
organisations Belantara Papua, Bin Madag Hom, Jasoil, SKP KAME and Jerat
Papua, and Sawit Watch.

Available for download: https://awasmifee.potager.org/?p=1205

image

Indonesia’s oil palm industry is moving east. With large tracts of land
increasingly difficult to find in Sumatra and Borneo, plantation
companies are now focussing their attention on Indonesia’s eastern
frontier: the small islands of the Maluku archipelago and especially the
conflict-ridden land of West Papua.

In 2005 there were only five oil palm plantations operating in West
Papua. By the end of 2014 there were 21 operational plantations. This
rapid expansion is set to continue with another 20 concessions at an
advanced stage of the permit process, and many more companies that have
been issued with an initial location permit. If all these plantations
were developed, more than 2.6 million hectares of land would be used up,
the vast majority of which is currently tropical forest.

Almost without exception, these plantations have caused conflict with
the local indigenous communities who depend on the forest – lowland
Papuans are mostly hunters and gatherers to some degree. The conflicts
have centred around community’s refusal to hand over their land, demand
for justice in the cases where they feel the land has been taken from
them by deceit or intimidation, horizontal conflicts between
neighbouring villages or clans, action by indigenous workers who feel
they are exploited, or aggression by police or military working as
security guards for the plantation companies.

The West Papua Oil Palm Atlas, published by awasMIFEE, Pusaka and six
other organisations, is an attempt to provide a picture of this
developing industry. Who are the companies involved? Where are they
operating? Which areas will be the next hotspots? The aim is to be part
of a process to push for more open and accessible information about
resource exploitation industries in West Papua – currently local
administrations and companies are often reluctant to share information
about permits, meaning that communities often know nothing of plantation
plans until a company shows up, trying to acquire their land.

Indonesian law does recognise communal land rights for indigenous
customary communities, but in reality those communities often face
considerable pressure to give up that land, and are rarely given more
than US$30 per hectare in compensation. It is hoped that this
publication can become a tool for indigenous peoples and social
movements who wish to understand the oil palm industry and defend their
forest against these land grabbers, as they themselves should be the
ones to determine what kinds of development will benefit their communities.

For environmentalists and supporters of indigenous struggles around the
world, we hope that this will also be a useful insight into the dynamics
of the plantation industry and the threats it is causing in the third
largest tropical forest in the world. Using the excuse of the conflict
around the independence movement, the Indonesian government makes it
very difficult for international observers to access West Papua, and
this has probably also resulted in a lack of awareness internationally
about the ecological threats. Yesterday (29th April) human rights groups
throughout West Papua, Indonesia and in over 22 cities around the world
held demonstrations for open access to Papua, which has long been a
demand of many Papuan movements. Publishing this Oil Palm Atlas is also
an attempt to break the isolation of Papua, by focussing attention on
the issue of indigenous land rights, in a context where local
communities which choose to oppose plantation companies often feel
intimidated by state security forces which back up the companies.

Direct download link:

English:
http://awasmifee.potager.org/uploads/2015/04/atlas-sawit-en.pdf
Indonesian:
http://awasmifee.potager.org/uploads/2015/04/atlas-low-resolution-Final-id.pdf

Nabire youths arrested for cleaning memorial park

By our partners at MAJALAH SELANGKAH in Nabire

28 April 2015

Photo caption text: From left to right, , Marthen Iyai (28 yrs old), Martinus Pigai (17), Anton Pigome (24) detained in the Nabire Police station Tuesday (28/4/15). (Photo: MS)

A BRIMOB Police unit together with Nabire Regional Police on 28 April have arrested three Papuan youths whilst they were cleaning the Papuan Nation’s Flower Park in Ovehe in Nabire town centre, Papua province. Those arrested are Martinus Pigai (aged 17 yrs), Anton Pigome (24 yrs) and Marthen Iyai (28 yrs).

According to arrestee Anton Pigome, speaking with majalahselangkah.com from detention at the Nabire Police station at Tuesday midday: “This morning we were cleaning the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ in Ovehe together with our older people. We were cleaning the park for a church service to mark 100 days since the passing away of Father Nato Gobay (see: Wakil Uskup Timika, Pastor Nato Gobay, Pr Wafat) and at the same time to communicate to the community there regarding Mubes Meepago ( Mubes Miras dan HIV Wilayah Meepago) as planned for 9 or 10 May 2015.  At approximately 8.00 am BRIMOB forces came in a vehicle and ordered us to get into the BRIMOB vehicle. They then took us to the Nabire Police station.”

Anton continued “ We were not beaten at the time of arrest, however we were shocked and confused why we would be arrested. We were just cleaning the park so why would we be arrested?”

Well known Papuan human rights activist Yones Douw said they confronted police. “After we heard the news we went directly to the Police station and demanded the three be released as they had done nothing wrong. They were just cleaning the area for the church service to mark 100 days since the death of Father Nato Gobay” stated Yones.

Yones explained after meeting Deputy Head of the Nabire Police Kompol Albertus Andreana, it had been agreed to release the 3 youths. “ When we momentarily met with the Head of Police earlier I stated that the 3 youth must be released. He had to leave and suggested we speak with the Deputy Head of Police which we did. They have promised to release the 3 this afternoon.”

According to Yones, the Police believed the park was being cleaned in relation to upcoming 1 May activities, being the anniversary of the date Papua was annexed into Indonesia. As that anniversary is now close the National West Papuan Committee (KNPB) has called for demonstrations to be held simultaneously throughout Papua to reject the presence of the Indonesian population in the Land of Papua.(See: Seruan KNPB Menuju 1 Mei 2015).

It needs to be pointed out that the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ is the location of the past offices of the Regional Committee of Community Representatives (DPRD). After the DPRD offices were burnt down and moved to Kelurahan Bumi Wonorejo, the Papuan community used the place as a centre for political expression.

Majalahselanghkah.com noted that back on 1 December 1999 the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ had once been used for a West Papuan Political Ceremony during which two flags were raised on high steel poles with the Papuan Morning Star flag on the right and the Indonesian Red and White flag on the left. Those raised flags were maintained for 8 months before joint armed forces of Police and Indonesian military took them down during what’s become known as ‘Bloody Nabire’ which occurred from 28 February to 4 March 2000. (IRIAN JAYA (WEST PAPUA, NEW GUINEA): THE QUEST FOR INDEPENDENCE–THE RECORD: REPORT ON THE NABIRE SHOOTING SITUATION- 28 February 2000 to 4 March 2000). At that time 3 people were shot dead and others were wounded. Those shot dead were Menase Erari, Maximus Bunai and Wellem Maniwarba. They were buried in the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ and to this date the steel pole remains standing there.

Then again on 13 August 2013 there was an incident when access to the park was closed off by joint armed police and military forces (see: Taman Bunga Nabire Dipalang, Sejumlah Tokoh Mengadu ke DPRD). Human rights activists together with well known church and community figures, tribal and customary law leaders pressured DPRD to hold a meeting with the Regional Government, the district Commandant and the Head of Police to return the park to the community. Finally the closure to the park was lifted and until now the community has been able to use the park as a place for political expression.
(Yohanes Kuayo/Yermias Degei/Putri Papua/MS)

Chairman of AJI Jayapura: Importance of Open Access to Foreign Journalists into Papua

by Arnold Belau at our partner Tabloid Jubi

April 29, 2015

Pioneering West Papua journalist Victor Mambor, Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) Papua, Editor of Tabloid Jubi, media freedom advocate and Journalism trainer (photo: Jubi
Pioneering West Papua journalist Victor Mambor, Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) Papua, Editor of Tabloid Jubi, media freedom advocate and Journalism trainer (photo: Jubi)

Jayapura, Jubi – Chairman of Journalists Alliance (AJI) in Jayapura city, Victor Mambor, said it is very important to open access to foreign journalists into Papua in order to avoid misinterpretations of Papua.

 The issue was delivered by Victor in an interview with AJI Indonesia in Jakarta at the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2015, Tuesday (29/04/2015).

Victor explained that the media in Papua continues to grow, but the challenges are also growing ranging from human resources, financial, ethical and positioning journalists.

In Papua, as the media grows, so too is the presence of journalists.

“However it is true that a journalist in skill and ethics cannot always grow in parallel. If there are challenges, there is still not much of a significant change. Journalists still face threats of violence with the same quality as in previous years,” said Victor.

Papua which is broad and extensive, has become the greatest difficulty faced by foreign journalists. The conditions make the confirmation process, covering both sides, and verification difficult. Often, news from Papua becomes incomplete and with bias ruling.

“Every year there are 4 or 5 foreign journalists who question to myself regarding the situation in Papua. Most of them could not enter Papua. From their information, I can conclude they are not well served when submitting an application for reporting in Papua. In fact, there is no decision ever made, permitted or not,” said Victor.

Victor said that the more closed the access is, the more questions the international community will ask about what is happening in Papua.

“The conflict in Papua could be clarified in a comprehensive manner to the public through information which is submitted by journalists,” said Victor, who is also the Chief Editor of Jubi News and Jubi Online.

He said, to open access for foreign journalists into Papua, the issue that is very important and must be carried is the clarification of regulations for foreign journalists in Papua.

“Besides the campaign for open access for foreign journalists in Papua, lobby stakeholders who are related to the issue that need to be carry out the goal of clarifying regulations for foreign journalists. This is the main problem, unclear regulations,” he asserted.

WPFD proclaimed to the UN General Assembly that in 1993, the recommendations of this matter, was adopted it in the 26th Session of the UNESCO Conference in 1991. Recommendations and the trial were also in response to the calls of African journalists in 1991 for principles of media pluralism and independence, which resulted in the Declaration of Windhoek.  [Editor : Dewi Wulandari]

 translated by WestPapuaMedia

The Eyes of the Papuans: A video advocacy process

by Wensislaus Fatubun*

April 24, 2015

Thirty years later, I have still not forgotten. It happened in the south of the Indonesian province of West Papua, a journey of two days from the “big city” of Merauke.  Life in the small village of Yodom centred around trips to and from the ubiquitous, generous forest, provider of every need.  The arrival of a South Korean lumber company brutally intruded on the traditional way of life.  Workers started to fell trees.  Word had it that a plantation of palm oil trees was to take their place.

While the helpless population watched the destruction of part of their source of food, the children in the village had eyes only for the bulldozers.  But what fascinated my 12-year-old self the most was the strange object a Korean regularly held up to his eye as if he were aiming at something.

“No one had ever seen a camera,” I remember.

“When I saw the joyful reactions of the people who saw their pictures from the camera, I said to myself that me, too, I wanted to do that.”

My dream came true some years later when, after studying philosophy at the School of Philosophy, on the island of Sulawesi, I started work at the Office for Justice and Peace in the archdiocese of Merauke.

“I began to write reports and use a camera to speak out on the rights of native peoples and environmental issues. This is how the project Papuan Voices started.

“…. I wanted this to be an advocacy and cultural project to permit the people of Papua to tell their own stories in films. So other people could learn about them together with them.”

Individuals and communities have memory, so the most important thing in advocacy videos is how to build a collective memory.  I believe, when we have the same collective memory, the advocacy process that we build will continue to proceed and will not die.  This is where video has a very important role.

The process of building video-based advocacy and memory is an inter-subjective experience and dialogue on history and culture.  This is the first process.  I visited the villages, explained what a camera was and what purpose it served and convinced the villagers of its usefulness as a tool.  This is what I made.  Once a plan for the sequence was established to everyone’s satisfaction, we could film.

The result: short fifteen-minute films posted on the Internet in order to reach a maximum audience. [These films can be viewed on papuanvoices.net and on YouTube: Papua Storyteller.]

“One of our films tells the story of a young Papuan woman who became pregnant after a relation with an Indonesian soldier. This happens to a good number of Papuan women who find themselves alone to raise their child, cast off by Indonesians and their own community alike,” says the producer-film maker.

“Another film shows how Papuans are losing their culture and their identity.”

My interest is not just in making films: “Each sequence is an opportunity to talk with the villagers about human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples and their socio-economic rights.  Making a film is an occasion for us to settle on a strategy with the villagers for them to claim their rights.  Not only by addressing representatives of the government in meetings organised by the Justice and Peace office but also more globally using our network.”

That is the process of making the video part of our advocacy strategy.  We introduce the process of making a video and train the community in the early stages of building a network, we strengthen and assist the community to be able tell their stories, especially their stories about human rights.  We are human beings, we take note of the experience, history and relate to others so that we have a story about human rights.

From my experience, video is able to connect people.  It is not only communication, but more of an emotional connection.  People who are at different places can have an emotional connection to each other because they watch the video.  Our challenge is how to produce a video about human rights that is able to connect the emotions of people and unite them to fight together.  The principle instrument we have to tell the story of life is the video.  I think a lot of video advocacy activists fail to use video as an advocacy tool because they are simply telling the issue, and not a life story.

I have been talking about the pre-production and filming, now I want to talk about the distribution.

In Papua, Papuans people continue to fight to protect their rights.  They continue to protest to the Government and the State of Indonesia.  There are indeed reasons to protest.  Their land is being taken from them, they are being colonised by new settlers, they are being forced into assimilation and being marginalised … This is not to forget the smouldering war that has been going on since 1963, when West Papua was de facto declared a part of the Republic of Indonesia.  To this day, Papuan armed groups have been calling for greater autonomy and even independence.

I denounce “a creeping genocide,”  given the extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and torture to which the Papuan population is exposed.  Amnesty International has regularly recorded abuses and violations of human rights by Indonesian authorities in a region off-limits to international non-governmental organisations and journalists.  (Two French journalists were arrested on 6 August 2014 and imprisoned for having travelled with tourist visas and allegedly contacting members of an “armed gang of criminals”. [These allegations were never proven – WPM Eds] They were threatened with a prison sentence of 5 years as well as fines of $42,000, before being deported.)

My challenge in Papua is how to convey the story of a difficult message, violent and even bloody, to the audience?  I would like to answer this question with a story from personal experience.  On December 8, 2014, the Indonesian military shot dead four students in the District Enarotali District, Paniai, in Papua, Indonesia.  At that time, there was a lot of media publicity about this case.  We got some footage of the community. We think that this footage should be part of ongoing advocacy process. We edited and made a video [see below] for which the primary audience were the participants of the side event about Papua in Room XXIII, the UN Human Rights Council.  We did not make the main audience the Government of Indonesia, because we see that the Government of Indonesia has received a lot of information. The National Human Rights Commission is conducting an investigation and the people’s movement Papua ItuKita is supporting the advocacy process in Jakarta. The video we made should strengthen the advocacy process in the UN Human Rights Council.  This video was screened during the side event, there were a lot of responses and the video was able to evoke emotion in the Council room.  It has been distributed to other audiences and most importantly, the video is able to strengthen the argument of activists, becoming part of advocacy through a mechanism that is available on the UN Human Rights Board.

*Wensislaus Fatubun is an accomplished and pioneering West Papuan independent journalist, film maker, human rights defender, writer, photographer, story teller and has also been long term collaborator with West Papua Media.  He is currently also a member of Pax Romana, and the Program Manager of the JPIC Desk in Kalimantan, a place under the same colonist pressures as West Papua.  You can see his work at http://iampapua.blogspot.com/ and You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ambaimain23

This story also appeared at  http://www.tapol.org/news/eyes-papuans-video-advocacy-process  but was sent by the author to WestPapuaMedia independently.

OpEd: Asia, Africa and the Unresolved Question of Papua

by Budi Hernawan*

April 24, 2015

EDIT: WPM received a transcript without the original author being credited and published as an original .  We apologise for this, but will maintain the article as fair dealing.  Article originally appeared at http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/opinion/commentary-asia-africa-unresolved-question-papua/

Sixty years ago in Bandung, 29 representatives from Asian and African nations were enthused with the spirit of decolonisation, and today even more seem determined to pursue South-South cooperation.

If we look back at the 1955 Bandung conference as described in Richard Wright’s “The Colour Curtain,” it was simply stunning. Most of the leaders of newly independent nations were former political prisoners under their respective colonial regimes. Those who had long been treated as underdogs were now in charge of new nations. It was a new dawn of liberation and in 1960 these Asian and African countries made history through the adoption of Resolution No. 1514 on Decolonisation at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

For this year’s commemorative Asian-African Conference, Indonesia has set three main goals:

  1. strengthening South-South cooperation to promote world peace and prosperity;
  2. reinvigorating the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership; and
  3. a Declaration on Palestine.

However, one thing is missing in this picture: Papua.

Sixty years ago, Papua was on the top of then-president Sukarno’s decolonisation agenda. He managed to get the support from many of the participants of the Bandung conference for his diplomatic battle at the UN to make Papua — still ruled by the Dutch — part of the Republic of Indonesia. The Dutch were still recovering from their post-colonial syndrome and although they had started to realise that their time had passed, they were determined to hold on to what they called Netherlands New Guinea, and what Indonesia referred to as West Irian.

The debates at the UN centred on the topic of unfinished decolonisation and the serious threat to world peace this posed. With the support of other Asian and Africa countries, Indonesian diplomats tirelessly argued before the General Assembly that West Irian was part of Indonesia as agreed during the Roundtable Conference in The Hague in 1949. Furthermore, they argued that the situation was detrimental to stability in the Southeast Asian region, calling on the UN to step in, as mandated by the UN Charter.

With the support of 14 countries, in 1954 Indonesia managed to table “The Question of West Irian” at the UNGA but it took another year before the UN General Assembly adopted it as Resolution 915(X) in 1955. The journey was far from over.

In the following years, Indonesia fought hard for the topic to be put on the agenda at the UNGA, with the support of 15 Asian and African nations, but failed. Australia was one of the countries that consistently voted against the proposal, whereas the United States opted for abstention — giving the Dutch leeway. This diplomatic failure led Sukarno to divert his energy to scale up the nation’s military capacity and, ultimately, launch an assault — Operation Trikora in 1961.

Not long after, the current provinces of Papua and West Papua were transferred to Indonesia after a brief period of UN administration. However, many people do not realise that until today, “Papua” remains an unresolved question.

Papuans have long appealed for a peaceful solution to the decades-old conflict in the easternmost part of the country. It has been a while since local church leaders declared Papua as a “Land of Peace” in 1998, following the bloody massacre of Biak, which remains unresolved. Filep Karma, who rose the Morning Star flag in Biak days before the massacre, remains in jail for doing the same thing in 2004.

The Papuan Peace Network has been trying to persuade Jakarta to engage in dialogue with Papuans since 2009. President B.J. Habibie’s administration told the 100 Papuan representatives to go home and rethink their call for independence. The administration of president Susilo Bambang Yudhyono held two separate meeting with Papuan church leaders and promised to organise a dialogue, which never happened. President Joko Widodo visited Papua after promising to improve the situation on the campaign trail.

But Papuans are still waiting.

While the national government is determined to revive the Bandung spirit of liberation by proposing a “Declaration on Palestine”, local police in Jayapura on April 8 arrested five Papuan leaders and charged them with treason even though they had only just returned home from a  meeting with Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. Papuan efforts to establish a dialogue are being criminalised. Charges remind us of the colonial time, when our founding fathers were persecuted for expressing their political positions.

Papuans are no longer placing their hopes in Asian and African countries, and some have started to shift their focus to the Pacific.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has become a new forum to find a solution for Papua. During its 2013 summit, the MSG expressed concerns over the human rights situation in Papua and called on Indonesia to find a peaceful solution. The summit also discussed an application for membership from Papuan representatives, although a decision has been delayed. But in May, the MSG will again discuss the application during its summit in Honiara.

“The Question of West Irian” is still very much alive.

*Budi Hernawan is a long time researcher on human rights issues in Papua, and is currently a research fellow at the Abdurrahman Wahid Center for Interfaith Dialogue and Peace at the University of Indonesia (UI).