It is time to put talk into action: Aust Parliament speech by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan)

Hansard Transcript of  Speech given to the Australian Parliament House of Representatives on Monday November 21,  by Jane Prentice MP (Ryan), Liberal Party of Australia.

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (10:42): Like others in this chamber I applaud the sentiment and goals expressed by President Obama in his address to the Australian parliament last week. His words do bear repeating, so I quote:

As two global partners, we stand up for the security and dignity of people around the world.

President Obama said that the larger purpose of his visit to this region was ‘our efforts to advance security, prosperity and human dignity across the Asia-Pacific’ and that ‘Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress’. He went on to say:

We stand for an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and people are upheld. … Every nation will chart its own course, yet it is also true that certain rights are universal. … As two great democracies we speak up for these freedoms when they are threatened. We partner with emerging democracies, like Indonesia, to help strengthen the institutions upon which good governance depends. This is the future we seek in the Asia Pacific — security, prosperity and dignity for all.

As I said in my maiden speech, in our region we have a particular responsibility to assist our developing friends, not in a patronising way but with a genuine hand of friendship and support. The developed world has not found a successful form of providing aid to our neighbours, in much the same way that we have much to learn in helping our own Indigenous Australians. In both cases we must persist, because if we fail we let our neighbours down—and, indeed, our first Australians.

I then went on to mention some of the many issues confronting our nearest neighbours. It is against this background that it is important that we acknowledge the respect for human rights that must be accorded to all people.

The people of West Papua are facing challenges that in many ways flow from colonial times, when lines were drawn on maps to suit the interests of colonial powers. As a country we have for more than 100 years been prepared to send our service men and women all over the world, not only into conflict situations but also as peacekeepers. Yet here, literally on our doorstep, we continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of one of our nearest neighbours.

On that note, with everyone focused on the Asia-Pacific region, as President Obama said, we must stand up for the fundamental rights of every human being. In particular I look to our neighbours in West Papua. Mark my words, history will judge us very harshly. Indeed, we will stand condemned for our lack of action and our lack of compassion. I call on the government in its close partnership with President Obama to ensure basic human rights and freedoms for the people of West Papua. It is time to put talk into action.

Asia-Pacific Region
Monday, 21 November 2011

Why Now? A West Papua Backgrounder

from our partners at New

By Jim Elmslie

Papuans demand referendum.

NM has kept a close eye on West Papua as pressure in the breakaway Indonesian province builds. Long-time Papua watcher Jim Elmslie explains why the situation has escalated – and may get worse in coming months

Two seminal events have shattered the uneasy status quo in West Papua: a labour strike at the Freeport mine, and the declaration of an independent West Papua at a landmark mass meeting of Papuan nationalists, the Third Papuan Congress.

Papuans are in a weak position to effectively pursue any policies that would improve their situation, or move towards the desired goal of many — independence. In fact their situation continues to deteriorate as more non-Papuan migrants arrive and the militarisation of West Papua continues unabated.

By 2010 the indigenous Melanesian population comprised slightly less than half the total population of 3.6 million. Military repression has contained, but done nothing to abate, Papuan resistance to what many perceive to be their “slow-motion genocide”.

It is hard to disentangle the history of the Freeport mine from the larger history of West Papua since the Indonesian takeover.

Indonesia took West Papua by diplomacy backed by military force: a force that no other country, including Holland, was ultimately prepared to oppose. President Sukarno and his successor, President Suharto, felt fully entitled to the riches of West Papua, won in the face of adversity.

The greatest of these riches has been the Freeport mine, the most valuable mining operation in the world. It was imposed on the Amungme people against their will and has been dominant in the political economy of West Papua ever since. The Freeport mine is very much a metaphor for the occupation of West Papua by the Indonesians and developments at the mine site cannot help but have profound effects across the entire country.

The status quo at the mine has been irrevocably transformed by the miners’ strike.

Blowing up the diesel and concentrate pipelines and blocking the mine access road has not only temporarily crippled the mine; it has permanently weakened the company. Once the epitome of aggressive American capitalism, it is now a victim of its own success, beholden to many forces and actors beyond its control which threaten the very survival of the company in Indonesia. Whether it be Papuan tribesmen, Indonesian unionists, theTNI or nationalist politicians in Jakarta, many people are out to get Freeport.

This phenomenon loosely coincides with the world-wide movement against authoritarian regimes (such as the Arab Spring) and against capitalist excess (such as the Occupy Wall Street movement). These movements have at least partly been fueled by the technological revolution that has thrown up new forms of communication such as the internet, mobile phones, Facebook and You Tube. Whereas Freeport and West Papua have always been hidden by their remoteness, they are now no more remote and disconnected from the rest of the world than anywhere else. What has worked in the past will no longer suffice.

Similarly the shooting by the TNI of unarmed protestors after the Third Papuan Congress did not take place in a vacuum. Within minutes of the first shots being fired news reports were being sent out by SMS, followed by mobile phone calls, emails, Facebook postings and uploads on You Tube.

Organisations around the world, such as Human Rights Watch in New York, were quick to condemn the shootings.

In Australia, Greens Senator Richard Di Natale moved a motion in the Senate calling for an end to military aid for Indonesia — a motion that now will have to be taken seriously as the Greens hold the balance of power in the Australian Parliament. There was no public condemnation of the shootings and associated human rights abuses from the Australian government, reflecting its extreme reticence to criticise Indonesia and the fragility of the relationship — at least over the issue of West Papua.

Other countries were not so constrained. Lord Avebury, Vice-chair of the UKParliamentary Human Rights Group, said, “this appalling display of excessive force has no place in a modern democracy”. In the US, Congressmember Eni Faleomavaega, well known for his outspoken support for West Papuans’ human rights, wrote a letter to the Indonesian Ambassador to the US, Dino Patti Djalal. Faleomavaega expressing his concerns about the Congress shootings and calling for the safety, “humane treatment” and immediate release of Forkorus Yaboisembut.

The geo-political importance of Indonesia, as a “moderate” Islamic nation, emerging economic force and potential bulwark against growing Chinese power, tended to mute further negative comment.

While the old status quo has been shattered with the strike and the Third Papuan Congress, no new equilibrium is in sight. In fact by 4 November the workers’ strike had coalesced with the Papua peoples’ political demands when tribesmen joined the strikers at the Freeport blockade and successfully fought back police attempts to break through. The tribesmen were drawn in by the strike and, armed with spears and arrows were expressing their own grievances over land rights, pollution and (lack of) compensation from the mine.

This was a seminal event in the political evolution of West Papua wherein all of the different agendas — and different sets of players — have come into play together at the political and economic heart of West Papua: the Freeport mine.

Freeport will probably (but not certainly) reopen in the coming months and resume production, but the mine and the company will now live forever in the shadow of the events of the past six weeks. The next attack will always be hanging imminent: maybe tonight; maybe never. But the illusion that the mine is safe and secure is gone forever. It is, for the time being, a defenseless victim which can be brought to a grinding halt at will. The security bought with the tens of millions paid to the TNI and police has proved to be no security at all; on the contrary those payments have made the mine even more vulnerable. All those billions seem up for grabs now.

Politically West Papua is in an even more chaotic and dangerous stalemate. Papuan aspirations for independence are being expressed ever more openly, defying the guns and threats, defying what most observers would see as logic: that independence seems an impossible dream. The Papuans believe that God is on their side; that history will vindicate them; that, like East Timor, their day will come and their imprisoned nation will one day be free.

Simultaneously the Indonesian nationalist position has hardened: the Papuans are seen as traitors trying to break up the nation and deserving of armed response, of death. Against this there are elements of Indonesian society that are considerably more flexible and nuanced in their understanding of the West Papuan conflict, exemplified by leading academic researcher, Muridan Widjojo, who has co-authored an important study on West Papua which strongly advocates negotiations.

Indeed, by 10 November even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was starting to talk about dialogue, but with such restrictive preconditions — predictably the non-negotiability of sovereignty, but also the centrality of Special Autonomy — that many Papuans may baulk at participation, sensing another pointless exercise in propoganda. Meanwhile the real power continues to reside with the military in West Papua, which clearly views separatism as a traitorous threat to national sovereignty and negotiation or concessions as a sign of weakness.

As the currents that are rippling across the rest of the world inexorably flow through cyber space and into the computers, smart phones and consciousness of Papuans, the scene is set for an ever-bigger confrontation. The trends are ominous, and the process structurally violent.

Other nations, particularly Australia (as near neighbour, Indonesian military ally and home to the most significant foreign based corps of pro- free West Papua supporters — both Papuan and non-Papuan) are being drawn into this struggle. Just as Australia was drawn into the East Timor struggle, against the fervent wishes of both the conservatives and the Labor Party, Australia is now involved in West Papua.

If nothing else the Lombok Treaty signed in 2007 makes Australia a virtual military ally of Indonesia. One purpose of the treaty was to suppress support for West Papuan separatism, particularly in Australia. Official Australia is, therefore, directly participating in the repression of the Papuans, as it participated in the Indonesian occupation of East Timor with military cooperation and diplomatic support. This reflected the view within Australia’s foreign policy establishment that erroneously saw East Timor’s status as an Indonesian province as final (as they now see the status of West Papua). Eventually the Australian public rejected this position over East Timor; the same is likely to happen over West Papua as an understanding of the situation there filters out.

However the cards unfold the situation in West Papua will likely get much messier and more violent. The possibility of a quiet genocide occurring is real. Australia must come to expect this and realise that the future relationship between Australia and Indonesia will be forged in how our respective nations deal with this difficult and traumatic conflict, not through trade deals and jaunts to Bali. In this context, the call by Senator Richard Di Natale to cut military ties with Indonesia is the best immediate policy response available and should be widely supported.

Mpur Peoples and development: a film by Mnukwar

with support from DownToEarth

This new film explores the views of the Mpur community, West Papua, on development plans for their region which will affect their land, livelihoods and culture.


Mpur Peoples and Development from Down to Earth on Vimeo.

About Mnukwar: bringing about change through film-making

Armed with medium-size video cameras and other film-making paraphernalia when they are out and about making films in different areas of West Papua, the Mnukwar crew often attracts local people’s attention. Knowing their background in environmental activism, some people think they are just showing-off with expensive gadgets and their interest will wane once the novelty wears off.

Set up in 2007 by several environmental and social justice activists, Mnukwar (a type of the Bird of Paradise as well as the name of the old capital of Manokwari) focuses on facilitating change through making film. Mnukwar staff are not too bothered by such cynical comments because the target for Mnukwar is not the film itself.

Being grassroots activists, the Mnukwar crew are very much aware of the urgent need for local people to be able to express themselves freely and without fear of intimidation. For many years, Papuans have been living under the threat of being stigmatized as rebels, making communications  with communities difficult. Communication, as the communities know from previous experience, can sometimes mean interrogation.

Mnukwar uses a variety of methods to build a rapport with a community, including showing other films to villagers as a way of introducing what can be done in film. More often than not, once a rapport is built, curiosity about the gadgets and the process of film-making itself overcome people’s anxiety about talking. Then people start to engage.

Working with people is never easy. On a number of occasions, villagers have turned NGOs away from carrying out any activity in their place because, based on past experience, ‘NGOs do not keep their word’, ‘NGOs are good at taking data but never share it with the villagers, let alone giving anything back or being accountable for what they do’, ‘ NGOs who come to villages with short-term or one-off projects with no future perspectives only make villagers confused’.

Mnukwar has learned a great deal from others’ experiences. At the beginning of any programme, Mnukwar always tries to make it clear that they are not organisation which provides grants or income generation projects, but a group of people who are attempting to facilitate learning about peoples’ rights and citizenship through film-making. During the film-making, the Mnukwar crew works closely with the people involved, to avoid the situation where the people are only the object of the film. Knowledge is reproduced in film format and the people are consulted. Film is also a powerful form of communication and an important means of learning in a society where interest in reading is very low.

Films about Climate Change

Through various work and activities on the issue of climate change, the Mnukwar crew has learned that climate change is not a phenomenon that is easy to capture on film. When asked straight questions such as “what is climate change or what signs of climate change have you observed?”, people are puzzled. Climate change is simply a foreign idea.  The observations about climate people can share are about the inconsistency of the seasons and the impact of this on their livelihoods.

What about ‘global warming’ and ‘climate justice’? For many communities, these are just sound bites with little meaning.

There is a long way to go before we will be able to see people in Papua linking global phenomena to their day-to-day living. And yet, it is never too late to learn and one can start using whatever tools are to hand. This is the principle of Mnukwar in making-film too: there is no need to wait until you have the proper equipment, which is often expensive, to make a film. The Mnukwar crew have been teaching people how to use any media able to record moving images, such as a simple mobile phone, to create a film. Empowering people does not need to be expensive.


Call for Brimob persnnel to be withdrawn from Paniai

JUBI, 16 November, 2011

The shooting which is believed to have resulting in the deaths of eight local residents in Bayabiru who were illegally panning for gold in Degeuwo in the district of Bogobaida, Paniai, took place three days after Brimob troops arrived in Enarotali from Timika. Full details of the incident along with a chronology and the reasons for the shooting are not yet known.

‘If this is true, no one can accept what happened. We herewith demand that the Brimob troops be withdrawn from Paniai,’ said Yakobus Dumupa, a member of the MRP, the Majelis Rakyat Papua.

The chairman of the Paniai district Customary Council (Dewan Adat Daerah Pania)i, John NR Gobai, asked in a press release what was the reason for sending 120 Brimob troops to Paniai where the security situation can be described as conducive. ‘We are seeking an explanation about this from the local Brimob chief as well as the chief of police in the district.’ He said that the Brimob troops that had been deployed to Enarotali had for the first three days caused a great deal of anxiety and trauma among the local people.’There needs to be some campaigning and advocacy from the NGOs and we need to set up a fact-finding committee to prove that this is true,’ he said.

‘Someone must take institutional responsibility for what happened. This is not just a matter of some rogue member of the unit. If there is no response from the institution itself, then the people will have to make an issue of this. The MRP will set up its own team to investigate the shooting of eight local people.’ he said.

He strongly condemned the brutal action that of the security forces in Bayabiru, Degenwo.It happened at a time when a number of things had occurred that require special attention from the government.’These serious violations of human rights are putting a heavy strain on efforts to hold a dialogue between the Papuan people and the central government, And they suggest that it is the TNI and the police who are the ones who are the separatists the ones who are trying to cause disunity within the NKRI.’

TNI / POLRI kills unarmed Papuan civilians in Paniai

TNI / POLRI kills unarmed Papuan civilian in Paniai

Thursday 17 November: Media Alert

Local human rights defenders report that Matius Tenouye, a farmer from Tagaya Degeuwo Village , Bogobaida District, Paniai Kabupaten, Papua was killed by the Indonesian security forces on the 13 November.

According to reports received by West Papua Media Mr. Tenouye (39 years old) was crossing a bridge when he was struck by a bullet in the back. He then fell into the Degeuwo River and drowned. Relatives have been unable to retrieve his body.

The killing comes days after Jubi, an independent online media organisation in Papua, reported eight people being shot dead in Degeuwo by members of the security forces. There have also been reports of destruction of civilian property in Kogekotu village, Camp Bapouda, Camp Ipakiye and Camp Madi, all close to a gold mining area that has been the scene of long-standing conflict over land rights, corruption and control of mining activity.

The area is off limits to local and foreign journalists, and due to its remote location human rights workers are having difficulty safely accessing the scene.

Paramilitary Brimob police from the Paniai garrison, armed by the  Australian government, on Sunday(10am local time) launched an unprovoked  attack on traditional Mee tribal gold miners in Degeuwo, near Enaratoli.

Local human rights activist Servius Kedepa told Jubi that he  was unable to ascertain any apparent cause for the shooting.  However local observers have long pointed to a deep involvement of Brimob officers in the mining conflict in the regency.

Papuan community members from Degeuwo Paniai are reportedly seeking refuge in the jungle.

The Victims (and cause of death) are:

1. Matias Tenouye (30 yr) Bullet through Right thigh, femoral bleed ,

2. Simon Adii (35 years) The bullet penetrated ribs and exited through abdomen,

3. Peter Gobay (40 years) Shot in Chest.

4. Joel Ogetay (30 years) shot through the head

5. Benjamin Gobay  (25 years) massive chest trauma through shooting, rear exit wound.

6. Marius Maday (35 years) massive chest trauma through shooting, rear exit wound.

7. Matias Anoka (40 years )massive chest trauma through shooting, rear exit wound.

8. Yus Pigome (50 years massive chest trauma through shooting, rear exit wound.

The causes of death are consistent with standard rifle use shoot-to-kill training by aiming at the central body mass.


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