Tag Archives: benny wenda

Papua New Guinea takes a regional lead in supporting a free West Papua

16 March 2013

 by Airileke Ingram and Jason MacLeod

Melanesian support for a free West Papua has always been high. Travel throughout Papua New Guinea you will often hear people say that West Papua and Papua New Guinea is ‘wanpela graun’ – one land – and that West Papuans on the other side of the border are family and kin. In the Solomon Islands, Kanaky, Fiji and especially Vanuatu, people will tell you that “Melanesia is not free until West Papua is free”. This was the promise that the late Father Walter Lini, Vanuatu’s first prime minister made.

benny powes 1
Above: Papua New Guinea National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop with Independence leader, Benny Wenda at the concert for a free West Papua, Jack Pidik Park, Port Moresby 6 March 2013.

Ordinary people in this part of the Pacific are painfully aware that the West Papuan people continue to live under the gun. It is the politicians in Melanesia who have been slow to take up the cause.

But that may be changing.

Last Wednesday 6 March 2013, the Right Honorary Powes Parkop, Governor of National Capital District, Papua New Guinea nailed his colours firmly to the mast. In front of a crowd of 3000 people Governor Parkop insisted that “there is no historical, legal, religious, or moral justification for Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua”. Turning to welcome West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda, who was in Papua New Guinea as part of a global tour, the Governor told Wenda that while he was in Papua New Guinea “no one will arrest him, no one will stop him, and he can feel free to say what he wanted to say.” These are basic rights denied to West Papuans who continue to be arrested, tortured and killed simply because of the colour of their skin. Governor Parkop, who is a member of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, which now has representatives in 56 countries, then went on to formerly launch the free West Papua campaign. He promised to open an office, fly the Morning Star flag from City Hall and pledged his support for a Melanesian tour of musicians for a free West Papua.

Governor Parkop is no longer a lone voice in Melanesia calling for change.

Last year Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill broke with tradition and publicly admonished the Indonesian Government’s response to ongoing state violence, human rights violations and failure of governance in West Papua. Moved by 4000 women from the Lutheran Church O’Neill said he will raise human rights concerns in the troubled territory with the Indonesian government. Now Governor Parkop wants to accompany the Prime Minister on his visits to Indonesia “to present his idea to Indonesia on how to solve West Papuan conflict once and for all.” Well known PNG commentator Emmanuel Narakobi remarked on his blog that Parkop’s multi-pronged proposal for how to mobilise public opinion in PNG around West Papua “is perhaps the first time I’ve heard an actual plan on how to tackle this issue (of West Papua)”. On talk back radio Governor Parkop accused Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr of not taking the issue of West Papua seriously, of “sweeping it under the carpet.”

In Vanuatu, opposition parties, the Malvatumari National Council of Chiefs and the Anglican bishop of Vanuatu, Rev. James Ligo are all urging the current Vanuatu government to change their position on West Papua. Rev. Ligo was at the recent Pacific Council of Churches in Honiara, Solomon Islands, which passed a resolution urging the World Council of Churches to pressure the United Nations to send a monitoring team to Indonesia’s Papua region. “We know that Vanuatu has taken a side-step on that (the west Papua issue) and we know that our government supported Indonesia’s observer status on the MSG, we know that. But again, we also believe that as churches we have the right to advocate and continue to remind our countries and our leaders to be concerned about our West Papuan brothers and sisters who are suffering every day.”

In Kanaky (New Caledonia) and the Solomon Islands West Papua solidarity groups have been set up. Some local parliamentarians have joined the ranks of International Parliamentarians for West Papua. In Fiji church leaders and NGO activists are quietly placing their support behind the cause even while Frank Bainimarama and Fiji’s military government open their arms to closer ties with the Indonesian military. This internationalisation of the West Papua issue is Indonesia’s worst nightmare; it follows the same trajectory as East Timor.

The West Papuans themselves are also organising, not just inside the country where moral outrage against ongoing Indonesian state violence continues to boil, but regionally as well. Prior to Benny Wenda’s visit to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu based representatives from the West Papua National Coalition for Independence formerly applied for observer status at this year’s Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting due to be held in Noumea, New Caledonia in June, home to another long running Melanesian self-determination struggle. While in Vanuatu Benny Wenda added his support to that move, calling on Papuans from different resistance organisations to back a “shared agenda for freedom”. A decision about whether West Papua will be granted observer status at this year’ MSG meeting will be made soon.

In Australia Bob Carr may be trying to pour cold water on growing public support for a free West Papua but in Melanesia the tide is moving in the opposite direction.

 

 

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The West Papua struggle is a difficult one and what outcome will emerge in the years to come is still hard to see. Allot of thoughts crossed my mind on Wednesday night when I attended the Benny Wenda, Free West Papua Concert. But from an Australian perspective, these comments by Daeron on an online forum summed it up quite well for me:

 

“Despair would be a natural but unproductive reaction to this SMH article yesterday, http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/carr-helps-to-remove-the-blinkers-20120305-1ue67.html

Both Bob Carr and Mr Hartcher are products of an American fantasy about Indonesia which benefits Bechtel, Freeport, Exxon, NewMount, Conoco Phillips, to name a few.. Just find a membership listing of the US Indonesia Society lobby to get a full listing. But an Australian foreign minister needs to know the difference between illusion sprouted in US publications and reality, and he needs to understand our regional interests. Bob Carr is a wonderful choice for Indonesia, but not so much for us.I agree the Balinese are a nice people, but Jakarta is not ruled by the people of Indonesia, it is a oligarchy mostly of Indonesian Generals and US corporate interests. The effect of the 1975 invasion of East Timor was that Portugal Oil was replaced by Conoco Phillips, and the effect of the 1962 American deal (the “New York Agreement”) for the UN to trade our neighbours of West Papua to Indonesian rule, was that Freeport got to mine Papua’s gold & copper etc.The NSW Parliament is well aware that West Papua is victim of an illegal UN resolution (resolution 1752 (XVII)) which Australia supported in August 1962, an act which benefited the US corporations and Jakarta but not Australia or our regional interests. Colonialism is good business for Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.; and it is the unspoken Australian policy for the indigenous population of West Papua.Over this coming year watch as Bob Carr, just like Kevin Rudd, refuses to answer a simple question; why did Australia support UN General Assembly resolution 1752 (XVII) ?
Posted by Daeron, Wednesday, 7 March 2012 1:49:53 AM”

 

But putting aside Independence hopes and geopolitical hurdles for a minute, why would a group of people be causing so many issues for Indonesia if they were happy?

 

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Benny Wenda opened his speech with a story of how when he was 6 years old he witnessed his mother being struck down by the butt of a gun at the hands of Indonesian Military and then witnessed as two Aunties who came to help his mother were raped before his eyes. All this at the age of 6.

 

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It is no wonder that experiences like this from many West Papuan’s have clearly driven them to dispute the fact that they had a legitimate say in self determination in 1962. Again, even if we accepted the UN resolution, has Indonesia given them appropriate rights and services to lead fulfilling lives?

 

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I’m no authority on this issue and I’ve never been to West Papua, but as far as I know there are quite allot of unhappy indigenous West Papuan’s in the world today.

 

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So what are they going to do about it? Well Governor Parkop announced on the night that he was going to be setting up a West Papua Office in Port Moresby. Globally as well they would be coordinating with the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, the International Lawyers for West Papua and International Musicians to ramp up the Global Campaign for West Papua’s Freedom.

 

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I take my hat off to Parkop, this is perhaps the first time I’ve heard an actual plan on how to tackle this issue. Below are some pics of the night and here’s a good wrap up of Parkop’s speech here.

 

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free_west_papua_concert

The West Papua struggle is a difficult one and what outcome will emerge in the years to come is still hard to see. Allot of thoughts crossed my mind on Wednesday night when I attended the Benny Wenda, Free West Papua Concert. But from an Australian perspective, these comments by Daeron on an online forum summed it up quite well for me:

“Despair would be a natural but unproductive reaction to this SMH article yesterday, http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/carr-helps-to-remove-the-blinkers-20120305-1ue67.html

Both Bob Carr and Mr Hartcher are products of an American fantasy about Indonesia which benefits Bechtel, Freeport, Exxon, NewMount, Conoco Phillips, to name a few.. Just find a membership listing of the US Indonesia Society lobby to get a full listing. But an Australian foreign minister needs to know the difference between illusion sprouted in US publications and reality, and he needs to understand our regional interests. Bob Carr is a wonderful choice for Indonesia, but not so much for us.I agree the Balinese are a nice people, but Jakarta is not ruled by the people of Indonesia, it is a oligarchy mostly of Indonesian Generals and US corporate interests. The effect of the 1975 invasion of East Timor was that Portugal Oil was replaced by Conoco Phillips, and the effect of the 1962 American deal (the “New York Agreement”) for the UN to trade our neighbours of West Papua to Indonesian rule, was that Freeport got to mine Papua’s gold & copper etc.The NSW Parliament is well aware that West Papua is victim of an illegal UN resolution (resolution 1752 (XVII)) which Australia supported in August 1962, an act which benefited the US corporations and Jakarta but not Australia or our regional interests. Colonialism is good business for Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.; and it is the unspoken Australian policy for the indigenous population of West Papua.Over this coming year watch as Bob Carr, just like Kevin Rudd, refuses to answer a simple question; why did Australia support UN General Assembly resolution 1752 (XVII) ?
Posted by Daeron, Wednesday, 7 March 2012 1:49:53 AM”
But putting aside Independence hopes and geopolitical hurdles for a minute, why would a group of people be causing so many issues for Indonesia if they were happy?
.
Benny Wenda opened his speech with a story of how when he was 6 years old he witnessed his mother being struck down by the butt of a gun at the hands of Indonesian Military and then witnessed as two Aunties who came to help his mother were raped before his eyes. All this at the age of 6.
.
It is no wonder that experiences like this from many West Papuan’s have clearly driven them to dispute the fact that they had a legitimate say in self determination in 1962. Again, even if we accepted the UN resolution, has Indonesia given them appropriate rights and services to lead fulfilling lives?
.
I’m no authority on this issue and I’ve never been to West Papua, but as far as I know there are quite allot of unhappy indigenous West Papuan’s in the world today.
.
So what are they going to do about it? Well Governor Parkop announced on the night that he was going to be setting up a West Papua Office in Port Moresby. Globally as well they would be coordinating with the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, the International Lawyers for West Papua and International Musicians to ramp up the Global Campaign for West Papua’s Freedom.
.
I take my hat off to Parkop, this is perhaps the first time I’ve heard an actual plan on how to tackle this issue. Below are some pics of the night and here’s a good wrap up of Parkop’s speech here.
.
IMG_2504
IMG_2535
IMG_2563
IMG_2580
IMG_2597
IMG_2634
IMG_2681
IMG_2673
IMG_2708
IMG_2711
IMG_2715

Jared Diamond: Don’t assist the Indonesian occupation

by Jason Mcleod

February 21, 2013

Opinion/Review

Diamond’s observations, made in his recent book The World until Yesterday,  that West Papuans are ‘warlike’ and that the state and development are forces for good need to be chucked in the academic dustbin. They don’t stack up against the evidence and in the case of West Papua help perpetuate ideas that are used to justify the ongoing Indonesian occupation.

Take his claim that Indigenous Papuans like those from the Dani nation are warlike, locked in perpetual combat with their neighbours, and bereft of role models, structures or processes that help pull them out of cycles of violent retribution. In reality Dani leaders like Benny Wenda, Sofyan Yoman, Dominikus Surabut, and Fanny Kogoya are at the forefront of a nationwide nonviolent rebellion against Indonesian occupation. This is not a recent phenomenon. Papuans from Biak, for instance, were engaging in acts of peaceful defiance as early as 1910, twenty years before Gandhi launched his salt satyagraha against British rule. They defied bans against traditional singing and dancing, organised collective tax resistance and initiated labour strikes in protest of Dutch colonialism. Alliances like KNPB, the West Papua National Committee also continue determined nonviolent resistance even as the Indonesian military tries to wipe them out, killing 22 KNPB activists in 2012 alone.

As for not cooperating across tribal boundaries, people like Dominikus Surabut, currently imprisoned by the Indonesian state for peacefully declaring independence from Indonesia, are part of a Pan-Papuan tribal confederacy, the Dewan Adat Papua (DAP) and the Federal Republic of West Papua. If you visit the DAP leader and FRWP president elect, Forkorus’s Yaboisembut’s home on the coast, you will see a Dani gate gracing the front entrance. While Papuans from different highland and island tribes will greet you and make you feel welcome you won’t be able to meet Mr Yaboisembut because like Mr Surabut he is also in jail for leading a nonviolent insurrection.

But you won’t find any of this in The World until Yesterday. Diamond fails to mention the occupation and fails to mention the fact that the West Papuan struggle for freedom is the largest nonviolent movement in the Pacific. We are not just talking about a handful of activists, but tens of thousands of Papuans who have gone on strike, occupied parliament, set up parallel government structures and are using the latest digital technology to demolish the Indonesian government’s refusal to give the international media free reign to report on what is happening.

Diamond’s other suggestion that the twin forces of industrialization and states are helping bringing development and peace to societies once isolated and trapped in a perpetual cycle of inter-tribal war has been labeled by Survival International, an indigenous human rights organisation, as “dangerous nonsense”. In West Papua large scale development like the giant Freeport/Rio Tinto gold and copper mine has displaced the local landowners the Amungme and Kamoro. Far from bringing development the company’s theft of land and resources has impoverished them. Freeport’s policy of paying the Indonesian military and police to provide security has led to a mounting death toll that numbers in at least the hundreds. Demands for independent forensic human rights investigations are repeatedly ignored by the Indonesian government and Freeport. Despite this Papuans from groups like Tongoi Papua, an independent Papuan labour union of Freeport mine workers who in 2006 won a 100% wage increase though collective nonviolent action, are working together, across tribal boundaries, to press for the freedom to organise and greater rights.

As for the Indonesian government bringing peace to West Papua; that is laughable. The Indonesian government has occupied West Papua since 1963. They maintain their rule through brutal force, ably assisted I might add, by foreign governments like Australia, the U.S and others. Rev. Sofyan Yoman from the Baptist Church, and other Papuans, call it “slow-motion genocide”. But again, don’t expect to read that in Diamond’s book.

Diamond’s observations about our collective past are often insightful but in the case of West Papua his ossified ideas about warlike Papuans and his praise of the state and development are at best, highly contested.

They also assist the Indonesian occupation.

Dr J MacLeod, University of Queensland

 

Papuan independence demo in London

Bintang Papua
25 October 2012 Benny Wenda leads an Independence Demo in London

Jayapura: Three British Members of Parliament were present at a meeting which was held in one of the committee rooms in the House of Commons for two hours on 23 October  at which information was given about the situation in West Papua.

The three parliamentarians were Andrew Smith, MP, member  for Oxford, Lord Harris a member of the House of Lords and Dan Rogerson MP, member for Cornwall.

While the meeting was in progress, a group of a dozen or more supporters of the OPM, the Papuan Freedom Organisation, held a demonstration outside, led by Benny Wenda, leader of the West Papuan.organisation overseas, who also addressed the demo. One of the demands made by the speaker was for the United Nations to send an observer mission to West Papua.

[The report is accompanied by a photo of the demonstration, which also shows the Morning  Star flag.]

 

Video Report: Thousands in Jayapura demonstrate in support of “New Guinea Council: First Steps” conference in Netherlands

Benny Wenda at the IPWP launch Русский: Бенни ...
Benny Wenda at the IPWP launch

from West Papua Media sources

Demonstrations were held in Jayapura on April 5 in support of a groundbreaking conference held in The Hague, The Netherlands, to examine  pathways to the reinstatement of the New Guinea Council or Nieuw-Guinea Raad, the original Parliament of West Papua from 1961 until Indonesia’s invasion.

Jayapura was again brought to a standstill by the demonstration organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), where several thousand people gathered hear speeches and to voice their solidarity with the “Nieuw-Guinea Raad: the First Steps” Conference.

Indonesian security forces were in attendance in large numbers at the rally, but no act of violence or provocation were reported by rally organisers.

In The Hague, speakers at the conference organised by the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) and held at the Dutch Parliament, included exiled UK-based independence figure Benny Wenda, Dutch Parliamentarians including Harry van Bommel, Cees van der Staaij, and Wim Kortenoeven.  International Lawyers for West Papua (IPWP) Co-ordinator and international human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson also spoke, demanding The Netherlands honour its “sacred trust” of its promise of independence for the West Papuan people, and assist West Papuan to fulfil their human right to self-determination.

The New Guinea Council (Nieuw-Guinea Raad) was established on April 5 1961 whilst under Dutch administration as the concept of a more democratic mode of administration started to develop, as a body that was to be the basis for a independent West Papuan parliament.  According to the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, “The establishment of regional councils came from the requirement that the Charter of the United Nations imposed on the Netherlands: that the interests of the inhabitants of Dutch New Guinea had to be paramount.”
“The Netherlands was to respect the right to self-rule and had to take the political aspirations of the indigenous people into account. They were also meant to support the Papuan people with the gradual development of their own political institutions.  There are documents. We are not speaking of vague promises, but we are speaking of real firm commitments for the independence of the West Papuan people,” explained a spokesperson for IPWP.

“Unfortunately by signing the New York Agreement (1962) the Dutch governments abandoned the West Papuan people,” the spokesperson said.

Footage from the demonstrations in Papua:

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Presentations at the conference in The Netherlands:

KNPB: Police Chief’s Statement Has No Legal Basis

April 3,2012

by Arnold Belau for SuaraPapua.com

PAPUAN, Jayapura — The statement made by the Papua Regional Police Chief via the Deputy Regional Police Chief Brig.-Gen. Police Paulus Waterpauw in several media outlets on Tuesday (3/4), requesting that the Chair of West Papua National Committee (KNPB – Komite Nasional Papua Barat) Buchtar Tabuni take responsibility for protest action that was organized by KNPB on Monday (2/4), is evaluted to be without sound legal basis, and very premature.

 

This position was affirmed by KNPB (Vice-)Chair I, Mako Tabuni, who issued a statement to journalists at Prima Garden Café, Tuesday (3/4) in Abepura, Jayapura, Papua. In his statement, Mako clarified a few issues underlying KNPB’s rejection of the Police Chief’s reaction, given that from the start the Papua Regional Police failed to issue a letter acknowledging receipt of the notice for the action that was submitted by KNPB well in advance of the day of the demonstration.

“Papua Regional Police refused and did not issue a a Notice Receipt Letter, whereas we organized a peaceful demonstration featuring Papuan arts and culture, without violating the law of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia (NKRI – Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia), said Mako to journalists.

“Arrows and spears are part of the Papuan nation’s cultural toolkit, and even this was clearly stated in our notice letter to the Regional Police, so how does it make sense for them to see demonstrators carry these objects and then to ask KNPB to take responsibility?” said Mako.

According to Mako, since decades ago the legal system of NKRI has occupied the Papuan nation, and this is a form of modern colonization which the Papuan people know and understand.

For this reason, Mako continued, KNPB is legally guaranteed the right to demand a referendum in the land of Papua, because the presence of the Indonesian government in Papua does not accord with international principles and standards from a standpoint of law, human rights and democracy.

Because, continued Mako, “From 1961 to 1969 the status of the territory of Papua was included in the United Nations’ decolonization category”.

Mako also denied that by calling the Chair of KNPB the mass actions in Papua will be stopped.

“Go ahead and call the Chair of KNPB, or even decide not to issue a demonstration permit to KPNB, but we will still mediate the people of West Papua to convey their demands and actions by other means”, stated Mako who has in the past been a political prisoner.

Mako also regretted the coverage in a number of mass media outlets, which is consistently biased in its perspective, and always judges each demo action negatively.
“Coverage like that harms KNPB, and harms the people of West Papua, so we invite media in Papua to show some consideration”, asserted Mako hopefully.

Previously, yesterday, Monday (2/4) a mass of thousands responded to the KNPB call for a peaceful demo action to show support for the Nieuw Guinea Raad conference and launching of the Netherlands branch of IPWP (International Parliamentarians for West Papua) which took place Wednesday (5/4).

This event was coordinated by the Free Papua activist in Britain, Benny Wenda, and a group of international lawyers who are members of IPWP, with a number of Netherlands Parliament members in attendance.

ARNOLD BELAU