Category Archives: Opinion

Essay: THE STATE OF INDONESIA AND VIOLENCE

By Pastor Honaratus Pigai

OPINION / ESSAY

November 2, 2015

The creation of human beings is indeed one of the brilliant works of God,  giving freedom to humans to choose between right and wrong, good and bad.  It is the very intelligence of humans which differentiates us from other living things in the creation.  We are indeed unique. Animals share the characteristic of humans that they tend towards using violence in order to defend themselves.  Animals also have instincts.

Unlike human beings, animals don’t possess the means to be able to evaluate the appropriateness of actions.. The instinct of animals is but one of survival. Yet despite the “higher level intelligence” of humans, at times they will act not just out of an instinct to survive when threatened, but rather as a predator against their fellow humans. (Something like a group of lions which may seize by violence the territory of another lion group.)

Sadly there are far too many instances of such predatory behaviour being seen in Papua against the indigenous people of the land.
Humanity – one would have thought – should have ceased using violence against their fellow beings long before this point in human history. What’s more those nations that call themselves ‘civilised’.  It is appropriate that human violence  only be tolerated when one nation is faced with an threat to their safety by another nation.  So then violence would only be used in a way that is legal under human law (to defend) against that which is carrying out the wrong.

However here in Papua violence is being systematically used not against criminals, but against the people.

The State versus the Community

A State has a certain authority recognised in the protection of its community.  It is regarded as the ‘protector’ of the people.  Instances of the use of violence by a State should only in the context of protecting its people from some threat of harm.  Violence should never be used by the State against the community itself.  However what has been occurring in Papua in recent times is totally paradoxical to that (notion).

Although it is forbidden to openly admit that the Indonesian State is opposing the very community that it is supposed to protect in Papua, the fact is that frequently the Papuan community does feel as if it is being regarded as the ‘opposition’ of the State.  Particularly around instances when the State forces its own will onto the people.  National policies applied in Papua largely can be said NOT to be representative of the Papuan context, nor the needs of the local community.  Often heard on the streets in response is “What is asked for is one thing, what is given is another.”  This is a reality. The policies are not in accordance with what is asked for, or even what is wanted and hoped for by the community.

It seems likely that violence has been adopted as the one and only ‘solution’ of the State of Indonesia to solving the problems in Papua.  At those moments when the community is seen to oppose the will of the State, indeed this seems ever so clear.  However Indonesia does not seem to recognise that the violence of its agents is having a counter productive result:  among its ramifications is that the State will predictably lose legitimacy and the trust of the Papuan community. This is an important matter for the state, which will only be changed by the State having an approach of dialogue and treating people humanely.

Obviously we are all human beings and that we should as much as possible be using means that are humane and civilised.  Would it therefore not be preferable that when a government (representing the power of the state) is adopting any policy that profoundly effects the community, that they would seek the opinion of that community to be affected, prior to that point? The government must not just hide from its obligations, seeking protection behind legalities of power, with statements like ‘This is in accordance with legal procedure’.  They must stop the inherent power games against the community, claiming that ‘This is in accordance with a legal decision, so it must be implemented’.

The State must seek to bring about justice and peace for the people, not the opposite! The law is an instrument to be used to attain a civilised state of affairs and good for its citizens, not to be used to spill the blood of the people and create death and tragedy in their lives. The recent human history of Papua is indeed full with the spilling of blood and killing of the Papuan people. There has been absolutely no episode of life for Papuans in this era where there has been a real peace and a lack of violence in the land against its people. The violence itself has become like a little king, a ruler in Papua. Indeed it is no mistake to say that a ‘smooth’ genocide has befallen the indigenous community of Papua.

‘Smooth’ Violence

The State violence in Papua is clothed with a smooth, soft touch. Those that commit the acts of violence and create the anarchy wear security hats and are referred to as the so-called ‘protectors’ of the community. This is a fact of what is happening.   Far from the ideals of ‘Peacekeeping and protection,’ it seems have been watered down to meaning  ‘closing down (cultural) pride actions that might otherwise arise’.

It’s up to each of us to interpret what is really going on in relation to those wearing those ‘hats’ in light of the realities in Papua. The Writer sees it as a ‘smooth’ violence, a ‘refined’ violence being committed against the people. This really can damage the sense of peacefulness in the community. Even the justice spoken of in the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia 1945 is damaged as a consequence of this neglect by the State of its people.

The State could try just once in a while seeking the opinions from the community regarding  policies in Papua. If the majority of opinions sought were in agreement with the policies, by all means continue to apply them. However if the community does not agree, they must be discontinued. Unfortunately there is no such mechanism as this in existence; It is but utopian as the role of the community should already be represented by the Papuan Legislative Assembly (DPRD). They are the ones in the Indonesian structure which represent the community. There is no use regretting this as this is the mechanism which we chose democratically.
The DPRD has an incredibly obvious shortcoming. All manner of aspirations of the people that reach their desk are in one way or another overlooked. As the representative of the community that sits in the most respected of positions it feels indeed like there has been some sort of ‘cutting off’ of a limb. Both attention and partiality of the DPRD towards the Papuan community are severely dulled.

It is truly hoped that the games of violence in Papua – whether of the ‘smooth faced’ type or more crude forms of violence against the people – might be questioned. The hats of the ‘peacekeepers and protectors’ must be removed as the proliferation of Indonesian military forces in Papua is not the solution! Violence is not the solution and neither is money the solution. The solution lies in listening to the true desires of the community. Not the wishes of the Papuan government officials who have no genuine concern for the suffering of the Papuan indigenous community.

The Author is a Church Worker in Timika, Papua.

Translated, annotated and edited by West Papua Media for linguistic clarity.  The religious views espoused in this Opinion piece are the author’s own and not necessarily those of West Papua Media.

YCW: Will Nekenem and his colleagues be given clemency?

From Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive-Director of LP3BH

12 July 2015

On May 20th this year, a group young people, students and activists from the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB) took part in a peaceful action during which several people delivered speeches. However, the group was dispersed by the local security forces, the Manokwari police.

Following this action, about one hundred activists were taken away by members of the police force and Brimob who had arrived there in several trucks and who drove them to the headquarters of Brimob.

Four days later, four of those who had taken part in the action
were arrested, Alexander Nekenem, Yoram Magai, Mikael Aso and Narko Murib, for allegedly committing a crime as well as being accused of incitement, as provided for in Articles 160 and 55 of the Criminal Code.

The article reads as follows: ‘Whosoever, in public or in writing
is involved in incitement, or is involved in an act of violence
against the authorities … shall be taken into custody and sentenced to up to six years or ordered to pay a fine of up to one thousand, five hundred rupiahs.’

It would appear that these four people had been taken into custody because of their involvement in a peaceful action on May 20th and for being connected with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

It should be noted that during the meeting of the MSG (Melanesian
Spearhead Group) which took place on 25th and 26th June, the ULMWP was accepted by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) as an observer.

Indonesia was also accepted as an observer. The Papuans were accepted as associate members from five provinces, Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara.

From now on, the ULMWP will always be invited to attend meetings
convened by the MSG.

So surely we should ask, who is it who has acted in violation of
the law? Was it Alexander and his colleagues who responded to the move to recognise the ULMWP as an organisation which has unified the indigenous people of West Papua and will become a permanent member of the MSG?

As a lawyer and Defender of Basic Human Rights, I would like to point out that the ULMWP has been officially accepted as a member of the MSG, an organisation that was set up to unify the struggle of three initiating organisations, namely the National Parliament of West Papua, the Federal Republic of West Papua and the West Papua Coalition for Liberation in December 2014 in Vanuatu.

On 3 July 2015, Abnel Hegemur and his colleagues were organising a joint service at the Secretariat of the ULMWP to celebrate the fact that they had been accepted as observer members of the MSG at a meeting in Honiara, the Republic of the Solomon Island States held from 18-26 June 2015 in Honiara.

They were subsequently arrested and taken to the headquarters of
the police command in Fak Fak and questioned, after which they were accused of having committed an act of subversion as stipulated in Articles 108 and 110 of the Criminal Code. This was subsequently changed to Article 510, according to which anyone who organises an event to march together in a public area may be charged.

Does this mean that any Christian or Indigenous Papuan who wishes
to hold a service must first obtain a permit from the police? If so, what about the guarantee regarding joint ventures stipulated in the 1945 Constitution.

This would suggest that all judges in the Land of Papua should pay close attention to such matters as this, when anything is organised by Indigenous Papuan People. And what about the decision of the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Ir. H. Joko Widido who recently granted clemency to five political prisoners who were being held at the prison in Abepura-Jayapura. as well as the intention to free almost one hundred political prisoners being held in various prisons in the provinces of West Papua, Papua and Maluku?

Surely this would mean that Alexander Nekemen, Michael Aso, Yoram Magai and Narko Murib should also be granted clemency by President Jokowi.  Or they should be granted abolition in accordance with the commitment of President Jokowi, as a move to resolve once and for all the problems in the Land of Papua and turn it into a Land of Peace.

Peace!

Yan Christian Warrinusy is the Executive Director of the LP3BH – Institute for Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid, and recipient of the John Humphrey Freedom Award in Canada in 2005.

Translated by Carmel Budiardjo

West Papua is still dangerous for journalism: Urgent reminder to all foreign journalists applying to report in West Papua

WestPapuaMedia Editorial / Urgent Safety Briefing

May 11, 2015

WestPapuaMedia is greatly concerned that the statements made on May 9 by Indonesian President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo in Jayapura regarding the ending of the foreign media ban for journalists to visit West Papua, is not being given due diligence by foreign media, and reminds all foreign media workers that West Papua is and still remains an incredibly dangerous place for journalists to report, and present an even greater threat to the safety of all journalism sources.

A full analysis of the actuality of the so-called “lifting” of the foreign media ban in West Papua will be released by West Papua Media’s team in the coming days, including analysis from our clandestine journalists who operate daily in the reality of the Papuan media environment, under threat constantly from Indonesian security forces.

This statement was made in the context of travelling the following day to Papua New Guinea, in bid to quash Melanesian support for West Papuan aspirations for self-determination, specifically the West Papuan bid to be granted observer status at the upcoming Melanesian Spearhead Group meetings

Despite Jokowi’s graceful and well executed “Juru Bicara” (Straight Talking) image, the reality on the ground in West Papua is that he has little control over the actions of security forces.  In west Papua.  Journalists, media workers, fixers and sources are routinely denied access, harassed, surveilled physically and electronically,, threatened, arrested, monstered, beaten, disappeared and even murdered by all the various organs of Indonesian colonial control in West Papua, with a list of perpetrators including (but not limited to) Police, Australian Trained Detachment 88 anti-terror commandos, military, National Intelligence Body (BIN), military intelligence, police intelligence, Kopassus special forces, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, forestry officials, customs, immigration, mining officials, Indonesian bureaucrats, pro-Jakarta transmigrant militias, and the ever-present Ojek (motorbike taxi) riders / intelligence officers.

The media freedom status in West Papua reached its lowest point in 2011, due to a series of murders, stabbings and disappearances of journalists across West Papua  This situation that prompted Reporters Without Borders to rank Indonesia at 146 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, only climbing to 139th place for 2014, due to international monitoring led by West Papua Media and our network partners in West Papua.

This lifting of the foreign media ban is completely without power or credibility until both a formal Presidential Instruction is made, together with a national law is passed and enforced that penalizes anyone who prevents free, full and unfettered access for ALL media workers in Papua.

Jokowi’s real attitude is telling however.  Just a few hours later in Merauke, he was quoted in Antara with his real attitude to “media freedom” in West Papua. “Don’t ask that question, that’s enough,” Antara quoted Jokowi saying when he was asked about a fact that usually foreign journalists prefer to cover activities of illegal armed groups.

Operating in West Papua for journalists will remain an extremely dangerous activity.  Even though it is unlikely a foreign journalist will be physically harmed it is not unknown.  Foreign journalists have been beaten, poisoned, interrogated, and some have died in highly suspicious circumstances in the past.

However, it is journalists’ sources that are most at risk, especially if communications and data are left unsecured.  All journalists have an unbreakable ethical duty to ensure the safety of sources, and without specific technologies used.  West Papua Media has a suite of digital and practical technologies developed from our Safe Witness Journalism training units, and we also can provide secure handsets for journalists travelling to West Papua.

West Papua Media also can provide an unparalleled secure fixing service that ensures foreign journalists are fully briefed to the security situation in all parts of Papua, and to be able to report without putting any sources at risk.

Last August, one person died, many went into hiding, and 5 were arrested due to unsecured data, notes, emails and phone calls allegedly held by the two French journalists arrested in Wamena in August, against the express guarantees on source security given to West Papua Media.

Only journalists can prevent their sources being put in danger.  Make no mistake, Indonesian occupation forces will harm journalists’ sources and journalists seeking to report on human rights abuses and violations of freedom of expression.  We suggest all journalists seeking to report on Papua read our Source Protection Policy for more information, and contact us to arrange training for full data and communications security for mobile journalism.  WPM also offers the ONLY civil resistance coverage media safety training available, which we can arrange for a  reasonable cost.

However, WPM remains sceptical on the latest claims of lifting the foreign media ban.  There have been too many previous claims that this will end, including several by Jokowi himself. Let’s wait and see how and if the security forces even listen to their president.

There are some minimum tests that will prove if the media ban is lifted in Papua:

  • Will the most outspoken foreign journalists be allowed to report from West Papua with full media freedom and access?
  • A large number of Independent and Mainstream Journalists who have previously reported inside West Papua have been threatened and banned from WP by security forces – will our bans be lifted?
  • Journalists who seek to report on topics opposed by government or security forces must be allowed full and free access without let, danger or hindrance from security forces.
  • One of the WPM editors still have outstanding arrest warrants on Makar (Treason and Subversion), Destabilisation and Espionage charges for Legitimate journalism activities – charges that need to be rescinded immediately;
  • the assassination threats on all sources and journalists, including WPM staff, need to be ended, and those making them arrested;
  • all DPO (Daftar Pencarian Orang – or Wanted Persons list) listings on all media workers in Papua must be cancelled;
  • all journalists must be allowed free and unfettered access across Papua and West Papua without intelligence agencies, police or military harassment, surveillance (physical or electronic) or intimidation of journalists, witnesses, sources, fixers and assistants or their families;
  • and of course, free and unfettered access to ALL areas of Papua, including mining, forestry and resource extraction areas, prisons, and military operations areas .

To reiterate, until these minimum conditions are guaranteed by an actual InPres (Presidential Instruction) in law, with penalties enforced for any official that prevents or ignores it, then this is just an utterance.

Nevertheless, Jokowi did say it, he was interviewed about it, and this was the statement that was made. Whether or not it is really enacted doesn’t take away from the fact that here is a clear undertaking.

Of course, letting in foreign journalists who don’t believe the hype, who are currently on charge or banned from West Papua by Indonesia will be the real test.

And making sure that the police and military answer critical questions when they kill civilians is part of that (including not hanging up on phone calls from WPM).  It is highly unlikely that the State Violence Forces are going to suddenly stop tailing and harming journalists, human rights defenders and media workers, unless they are arrested for it.

WPM will still operate with great scepticism the alleged lifting of the Foreign media Ban in West Papua, and about anything Jakarta (or any government) ever says: that is the job of journalism. WPM will still need to operate clandestinely, and we will still need support to train and supply people for safe witness journalism. Now more than ever, West Papua Media needs you support to train and supply independent clandestine journalists with the tools to safely report from the ground in West Papua.  It costs $3000 to support one journalist with secure and robust equipment for mobile newsgathering, $3000 to provide intensive Safe Witness Journalism training.  You can help by visiting this page to make a donation or longer term support.

This alleged end of the media ban is stage-managed and not at all genuine.  As far as we are concerned, the Papua Media Blackout remains firmly in place.

WestPapuaMedia Editorial

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).