Unconfirmed reports are circulating that three foreigners have been arrested by Indonesian police in the west coast town of Fak-fak, West Papua, for taking photographs at a demonstration on MArch 19.
The rallies, which were held across West Papua and Indonesia, were calling on United Nations Secretary general Ban ki-Moon to advocate for West Papua and pressure Indonesia to end human rights abuses in West Papua. The UNSG was visiting Jakarta to speak at a Defence Policy expo and hold bilateral meetings with General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the President of Indonesia.
The three men, identified as two British and one Canadian citizens, were taken by police to be interrogated after they were observed by intelligence officers taking photographs at the rally on Monday.
According to local sources, local police have claimed that the arrested men did not have a permit to enter West Papua, are “part of a foreign interference”.
Foreigners must apply for a Surat Jalan (travel permit) to visit West Papua, and must report to a local police station or military post either daily or weekly. Foreign journalists and human rights observers are banned by Jakarta from entering the Indonesian colony. Due to this restriction, any non-Indonesian foreigner with a camera is subjected to surveillance.
Local police in Fak-Fak have not been available for comment.
from the West Papua Media Editorial team, and local sources across Papua
March 21, 2012
Rallies held across West Papua, Indonesia, and Australia have drawn tens of thousands of people on to the streets calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to do more to protect West Papuans to Indonesian state violence, and to allow them exercise their universal human rights to self-determination.
Despite significant threats of violence prior to the rallies by Indonesian security forces against peaceful unarmed protestors, the mass mobilisations across West Papua significantly outnumbered security forces and were peaceful. In some centres, the police only sent a handful of undercover intelligence agents to monitor the situation.
In Jayapura, over 5000 demonstrators marched from Taman Imbi and joined with a long march of several thousand people. Security forces blocked access to the centre of Jayapura with heavy weaponry, but the rallies avoided provocation. Jayapura was reported to be a ghost town as the rallies paralysed normal business and movement.
Speakers in Jayapura demanded that the UN Secretary-General listen to the people of West Papua and tabled seven key demand on the UN. Buchtar Tabuni, from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) told the crowd that the UN must take responsibility for its role in the sham 1969 Act of Free Choice handover of West Papua to Indonesia, actions that violated international law.
“Ban Ki-Moon and SBY have to know the wishes of the sovereign independence of Papua on the land itself. KNPB will mediate the West Papuan people so they can determine their political choices through a mechanism that is democratic, peaceful, dignified and final in accordance with the principles and standards of international law”, said Tabuni.
Herman Wainggai, a West Papuan the West Papuan independence advocate based in the United States explained at the solidarity rally in Melbourne, Australia, “Our troubles began in New York in 1962, and I hope they will end there soon. We ask the United Nations to host talks between the Indonesian Republic and the Federated Republic of West Papua, just as the UN did between the Indonesians and the Dutch”
Ban Ki-Moon was visiting Indonesia to participate in The Jakarta International Defence Dialogue, hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Defence on 21 March 2012, a move widely seen by human rights observers as giving legitimacy to Indonesian militarist objectives over West Papua and beyond.
West Papuan activists called on Mr Ban to use the opportunity to press Indonesia on human rights in Papua and its consistent denial of basic freedoms and rights to West Papuan people, including rights to life and of freedom of expression, and freedom from arbitrary detention.
“We would like Mr Ban Ki-moon to attend to our defence while he’s in Jakarta” said Herman Wainggai,
“So, it would be appropriate for the Secretary-General to negotiate the release of all political prisoners in Indonesia while he is visiting the new ‘Peacekeeping’ Centre in West Java,” said Wainggai.
Widespread Mass Actions
The rallies across Papua drew tens of thousands of people in total in Wamena, Biak, Serui, Yapen, Sorong, Nabire, Jayapura and Fak-Fak. Security forces engaged in their standard procedures of intimidation and disruption at all rallies, but protesters maintained non-violence discipline at each area.
On Yapen island, close to 6000 people in total held two long marches to support the demands of the day, all under threat of arrest. Local police had refused to issue a permit for the rallies to go ahead, claiming the rallies would upset the security and integrity of Indonesia. After a week of pamphleteering and socialising the rallies, police had no choice but to allow the rally to go ahead. The rally began in the village of Mantembu, where former political prisoner Yawen Wayeni was brutally disembowelled and filmed by Brimob police in a video leaked on Youtube in 2010.
Mantembu, Yapen Island
The same Brimob unit on Monday attempted to block the long march from leaving Mantembu, using over 50 police to block the narrow road, and attempted to seize all Morning Star flags. Negotiations ensued, led by Reverend Jhon Pairire and FRWP Doberay Governor David Abon, who got agreement from police for the rally to continue to Serui city. Police continued to intimidate Papuans all day, but Morning Star flags still appeared throughout the day despite Police.
Serui, Yapen Island
Manokwari saw more than 7000 people from across Papuan society and resistance raise the Morning Star flag and conduct long marches all over town after prayer, eventually settling down to listen to orations from a wide range of speakers. Speakers called for the freeing of all political prisoners in Papua in Indonesian prisons, including the President and the Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of West Papua. Brimob officers tried to seize the Morning Star flags early unsuccessfully, but soon stood aback training their weapons on the crowd, who studiously ignored the provocative intimidation according to stringers for West Papua Media.
In Sorong, our stringers reported that almost 1000 people took to the streets in a festive atmosphere. Organisers claimed that few security forces turned up other than about ten plain clothes intelligence agents. “It is clear that this drastically changed the atmosphere, it must be because of international pressure,” said our stringer by SMS.
On the West Coast in Fak-Fak, almost 1000 people took part in prayers and listened to speeches in the main market square, with little interference by security forces present.
In Jayapura, stringers for West Papua Media reported a wide range of colourful, festive and dramatic demonstrations for Papuan aspirations, including the release of almost 300 balloons painted with banned Morning Star flags and the UN flag, which drifted across town and out to sea. This tactic has been used repeatedly as a tactic for distributed symbolic resistance in both Papua and Maluku for years. Isolated gunfire was heard when the balloons passed over military barracks, according to local sources, believed to be Indonesian soldiers attempting to shoot down the balloons.
And in Wamena, in the Baliem Valley, a thousand people joined in a rally and march to support the call for the UN to take action by sending peacekeeping force to protect Papuan people against Indonesian security forces. Stringers for West Papua Media report that few security forces were in overt attendance, but there was an understanding that troops were close by at all times. The Baliem Valley and West Papuan highland people have borne the brunt of Indonesian violence since the occupation began, with sweeps against civilians by the Australian funded Detachment 88 counter terrorism group and Indonesian army still ongoing in Tingginambut, Mulia and the outer areas of the Baliem Valley.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon certainly knows in detail about the development of human rights abuses in Papua because he sought a diplomatic answer from the President of Indonesia.
“Papua is Indonesia and we are obliged to maintain its security, but if there are violations of human rights then there is law enforcement action,” said SBY.
Of course with this kind of diplomatic answer, SBY wants to hide the number of cases of gross human rights that have occurred, and are continuing to occur now in Papua. Only at few days before the arrival of Ban Ki-Moon to Indonesia, Forkorus Yoboisembut, Gladius Waromi Edison, Augustine M. Sananay Kraar, Selpius Bobii and Dominic Sorabut were sentenced 3 years in prison on Friday (16/3) with charges of treason for forming the state of West Papua.
The implementation of the Third Papuan People’s Congress went ahead with official permission from the Indonesian government, both from the central government and the police to hold a congress in Jayapura. But Indonesia’s military attacked and captured civilians at the Congress without first showing any arrest warrant, in accordance with Indonesian regulation.
Again and again, military and police forces shot live ammunition at civilians at the Congress, inconsistent with legal process, in stark contrast with Yudhoyono’s promises to Ban Ki-Moon at the Bogor Palace.
The multitude of human rights abuses in Papua, which is tightly closed by state policy that prohibits foreign media and international NGOs from entering Papua, gave rise to human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson (lawyer for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange) calling on new Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, to immediately urge Indonesia to open Papua up, and allow incoming international NGOs into Papua to conduct human rights investigations independently (see Radio Australia, March 20, 2012).
Legal rights agencies lament the unjust decision facing the five civilians who were detained while organising the Papuan Congress, sentenced to three years in prison. According to these institutions, the Congress was a form of free expression and a fundamental tenet of democracy for communicating opinions.
In addition, humanitarian agencies deplore the attitude of the Indonesian military who with full weaponry arsenal stormed and attacked the Congress participants. This Indonesian Military attack and killed several Papuan civilians. (See: Franciscans International, Release March 16, 2012.)
Ban Ki-Moon is certainly more aware now of what has happened in Papua since 1969 when Indonesia invaded Papua. So SBY’s diplomatic answer of “SBY diplomacy” might make the number one person in the world confused.
Ban Ki-Moon also mentioned that South Sudan is an example of an area of extended conflict that has embraced the process of ending its fighting. The UN successfully held a referendum for citizens to determine their aspirations – and they chose independence from the Sudan.
Of course the conditions of ongoing human rights abuses in Papua, covered up by the state policy of denying access to foreign media and international NGOs to Papua, could by its very nature invite a humanitarian intervention to end the conflict in Papua, with (or without) the Indonesian government.
West Papuan independence advocates are questioning the UN Secretar
y-General’s presence—as a keynote speaker—at The Jakarta International Defence Dialogue, hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Defence on 21 March 2012.
“We would like Mr Ban Ki-moon to attend to our defence while he’s in Jakarta” said Herman Wainggai, the West Papuan independence advocate based in the United States.
“The Indonesian government brands us as separatists, and then hosts international fora to escalate support for what it says are ‘non-war military operations’ against us”.
Forkorus Yaboisembut, President of the Federated Republic of West Papua, currently incarcerated, requests the Secretary-General to recognise the leadership of the Federated Republic of West Papua elected at the Congress in October in 2011.
“The United Nations recognizes West Papua’s right to self-determination, and is therefore responsible for organising properly constituted peace talks, with itself mediating between the Federated Republic of West Papua and the Indonesian government.”
Edison Waromi, Prime Minister of the Federated Republic of West Papua, also incarcerated last week for another three years (he was also a political prisoner 1989—1999, 2001, 2002, 2003-2004) says the Secretary-General must actively insert himself into the West Papuan issue.
“The 564,126 missing Papuans since 1962, more than half-a-million people, should galvanize UN intervention. And I believe the Secretary-General should also, while visiting Jakarta’s new Peacekeeping Centre this week, negotiate the release of all political prisoners in Indonesia.”
Many international observers believe that Indonesian political fears, that their republic will dissemble in the face of West Papuan self-determination, is misplaced.
“Holland didn’t fall over when Indonesia became independent, and neither will Indonesia when we do” said Wainggai. “Bali principles, Lombok treaties, Peace centres in West Java….these are all meaningless while Indonesia continues to escalate its troops and its judiciaries against us”.
Media Inquiries and Interviews
Please contact West Papua Media for direct contacts on the ground in the follwoing locations:
A demonstration organised by KNPB, the West Papua National Committee, in support of the ILWP, the International Lawyers for West Papua, was unable to reach its intended destination, the office of the DPRP, and the governor’s office. When the demonstrators marched from Expo, Waena and reached the Abepura junction, they intended to proceed to the office of the MRP [Majelis Rakyat Papua – Papuan People’s Assembly], but had to stop. It was already late afternoon which meant they would be unable to reach Jayapura in time so they halted their march.
While proceeding along the main Abepura road, they conducted some actions which ended with a communal prayer. From there, the demonstrators returned home peacefully. The action caused some congestion which lasted till early evening.
The chairman of the KNPB, Buchtar Tabuni, said that they had received the police acknowledgement of their notification about the demo too late, which was why they were unable to reach their destination before nightfall.
Despite this delay, they were determined to proceed with the demonstration, the purpose of which was to express support for the ILWP meeting in the UK in August this year.
According to the Bintang Papua journalist, the demonstration proceeded smoothly, but had to change its route because of the traffic congestion. A number of businesses along the route decided to close shop for a while.
In a press release received by this newspaper, Mako Tabuni said that the KNPB supports the statement made by the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon in Auckland New Zealand for the West Papua issue to be submitted to the UN Decolonisation Committee [NB: this was subsequently corrected as Ban Ki-Moon had said no such thing].
The demonstrators shouted slogans supporting independence and a referendum for West Papua.
According to the Bintang Papua journalist, security forces from the Jayaura police as well as Brimob troops were guarding the route. Moreover, some Barakuda tanks were on guard at Imbi Square, to provide protection for the MRP office.