Tag Archives: Bali

PMW: Activists ‘forced’ to leave consulate, call for greater press freedom

by Daniel Drageset, Pacific Media Watch

October 7, 2013

West Papuan student activists Rofinus Yanggam (left), Yuvensius Goo and Markus Jerewon (right) left the Australian consulate in Bali Sunday. Image: Marni Cordell
West Papuan student activists Rofinus Yanggam (left), Yuvensius Goo and Markus Jerewon (right) left the Australian consulate in Bali Sunday. Image: Marni Cordell

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Three West Papuan student activists entered the Australian consulate in Bali this weekend with calls on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to open up for greater press freedom and push Indonesia to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in the Indonesian-ruled region.

“We want the Indonesian government to lift the 50 year restriction it has imposed on West Papua.

“We want foreigners, including journalists, diplomats, observers and tourists to be able to visit West Papua freely without asking for special permits,” the West Papuans wrote in an open letter addressed to the Australian people.

The student activists said in the letter they wanted to deliver a message to the leaders attending the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali this weekend.

Several organisations have asked Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans, but according to Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb the West Papuans did not seek asylum.

“They left [the consulate] voluntarily so the matter’s been resolved,” Robb said, according to Radio Australia.

The Guardian, however, reported that the consul-general had warned the three West Papuans that the Indonesian army would be called if they did not leave the consulate.

One of the students, Rofinus Yanggam, told the newspaper the group left in fear of their lives.

Calls for sanctuary
Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon called on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.

“These three young men were not asking for West Papuan independence from Indonesia. All they were asking for is entirely consistent with the Lombok Treaty of 2006, signed by both Australia and Indonesia,” he said, according to AAP.

“Instead of getting sanctuary and help, the Australian government effectively threatened them and now there is serious concern over the activists’ safety,” Xenophon said.

Professor Clinton Fernandes at the University of New South Wales backed Xenophon’s call.

He said when the media circus had moved on after APEC, the trio “may be tried, most certainly they will be beaten, and at some point might be disappeared”.

Rinto Kogoya, co-ordinator of the Alliance of Papuan Students, said it was time the world understood what was happening inside the province, which was officially acquired by Indonesia in 1969.

“The international community doesn’t know the reality in Papua. The military oppresses the civil society – we’re not free to do anything – and I think this is the moment to open democracy to Papua,” he said in The Guardian.

‘Great concern’
Joe Collins, of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA), was alarmed by the events at the Australian consulate in Bali.

“It’s of great concern that they [the West Papuan students] may have been coerced to leave as the students would have great reason to fear the Indonesian security forces.

“There are ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua and the security forces have been banning and cracking down on recent rallies to try and stop international attention being focused on the territory,” he said in a statement.

AWPA wrote a letter to the consul-general Brett Farmer in Bali yesterday asking for “clarification” regarding the students.

“We understand that they have now left the consulate and we would like clarification from you if they left voluntarily or as some media reports have indicated that they were told that they would be handed over to the Indonesian military if they did not leave,” AWPA wrote in the letter.

Australian Green senator Dr Richard Di Natale has also joined those who have called for Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.

“By speaking out in this way, these brave West Papuans have put their lives in serious danger.

“If Australia fails to offer them protection, I have grave fears for their safety,” he said in a statement.

‘Stand up to Indonesia’
Yet another senator to voice his support for West Papua this weekend was John Madigan.

“It is about time our government had the courage to stand up to Indonesia, instead of ignoring the issue of West Papuan oppression and the human rights abuses that occur there on a daily basis,” he said in a statement.

He also said he demanded that the Australian government provided sanctuary for the three West Papuans.

The issue of the West Papuan students came just days after pleas from several organisations that Australia should not deport seven West Papuans who arrived in the Torres Strait Islands in northern Queensland recently.

The group of seven, who took part in the recent West Papua Freedom Flotilla sought asylum in Australia, but were deported to Papua New Guinea under a memorandum of understanding between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Radio New Zealand International reported.

Refugee advocates in Australia said the deportation failed to abide by the Refugee Convention that Australia was a party to.

Spokesperson for the West Papua Freedom Flotilla Izzy Brown said she wanted to draw the United Nations’ attention to Australia’s commitment to the Refugee Convention.

“It’s really unfortunate that Australia thinks it can send asylum seekers offshore without due process or just blatantly illegally deported like in this case here, and we really want to try and draw the world’s attention and especially the UN’s attention to Australia’s behaviour in this matter,” she said.

Read the West Papuan students letter to “the people of Australia”

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About the author

PMW contributing editor

Daniel Drageset is a Norwegian radio journalist enrolled in the Master in Communication Studies degree at AUT University.

Third Papuan Congress opens in a field

Bintang Papua, 17 October 2011
[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]Jayapura: The Third Papuan People’s Congress opened in Jayapura today and took place in a field in the open air, after failing to get permission to use either the UNCEN auditorium or GOR, the sports stadium in Jayapura.

Selpius Bobii, chairman of the congress, said that the congress would open at 9am on Monday on Lapangan Sakeus (Sakeus Field).  He said the opening would take place as planned with communal prayers, followed by a seminar which may or may not be addressed by a speaker from the central government.

The format of the congress would be more or less the same as previous congresses – a seminar, followed by discussions and a plenary session. The speakers would include a spokesperson from the NGO Foker, Septer Manufandu, church leaders, Rev. Benny Giay, Rev Socrates S. Yoman and Rev. Yemima Krey.

The theme of the congress is as previously announced: ‘To uphold the basic rights of the Papuan people now and in the future.’

Bobii said that the participants have come from kampungs throughout the territory who were paying their own way; they would convey their opinions about what they feel. ‘Our task is only to accommodate them and facilitate the congress. They will speak about the situation in their own regions and will adopt decisions and decide what they need to do to implement these decisions.’

He also conveyed thanks to the central government for giving its blessing to the event. ‘We also convey our thanks to the community in general for their participation, and for their help in ensuring that this event takes  place in a conducive situation.’

Meanwhile groups who oppose the congress also expressed their thoughts. The chairman of the DPD (central council) of Garuda Indonesia Komando,  Richard Kabarek, whose parents and grandparents are from Bali and Java, expressed the hope that the congress would discuss the situation of the Papuan people.and how they can improve their living conditions.

As for the top officials of the provincial and local administrations, he said: ‘We hope that they will stop doing things that create panic and confusion among the population.’ He went on to say: ‘We are the younger generation  and we acknowledge  that there are discrepancies between us and the Papuan people. We are from the Republic of Indonesia – NKRI , we too need help, we need education and  we need decent living conditions.’

He appealed to the central government ‘to draw up a programme of development so as to ensure that the people living in the interior experience improvements  in their living conditions.’

He also expressed the hope that the Third Papuan Congress would adopt decisions that would not  be harmful to their own situation and to the community in general.

Another person who expressed his views was Yusak Pakage who decided not to attend the congress. He said that he had attended the Second Congress when  the situation was different from the present day. On that occasion, the central government supported the congress and also provided financial assistance and security. [Note: No reference is made to the fact that the second congress took place in 2000 during the presidency of Abdurahman Wahid – Gus Dur – who was sympathetic towards the Papuan people – which may well have been one of the reasons why his presidency ended with his impeachment. TAPOL]

Much depends on those who were given a mandate by the second congress, said Pakage: ‘Many things have happened since then for which they are responsible. Those who are  given a mandate this time should  report their activities to the people and should not do anything detrimental to the people.

‘We also know that there are those who are for and those who are against this congress, in particular the TPN/OPM led by Lambert Pekikir, who is chairman of the Revolutionary Council of West Papua.’

Speaking on behalf of the TPN/OPM, Pekikir said: ‘The Papuan people should not be influenced by the organisaion, the congress or whatever form of dialogue is agreed. It should not result in the Papuan people becoming victims because of the differences of opinons, between the ‘pros’ and the ‘contras’.