Faleomavaega receives Humanitarian Award for Defense of Human Rights in West Papua


Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) has named him the 2011 recipient of the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award.  Faleomavaega was presented the award on Thursday July 7, 2011.

In honoring Faleomavaega, WPAT stated:

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) is pleased to announce that it is awarding the 2011 “John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award” to the Honorable Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressmember Faleomavaega has been an articulate and effective advocate for the defense of human rights in West Papua, and has long worked for a peaceful resolution of the serious problems confronting Papuans.

His extensive knowledge regarding West Papua and his manifest sincerity and good will have enabled him to draw on the respect accorded him by his Congressional colleagues and members of successive Administrations to alert them and the U.S. public more broadly to justice, good governance and development concerns in West Papua.

On September 22, 2010, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Congressmember Faleomavaega convened the first hearing in the history of the U.S. Congress to include testimony from West Papua’s traditional and religious leaders. The hearing, Crimes Against Humanity: When Will Indonesia’s Military Be Held Accountable for Deliberate and Systematic Abuses in West Papua, also included testimony from scholars and administration officials from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense.

Driven by a sense of personal responsibility to carry forward the work of his Samoan relatives who are buried in West Papua and in honor of all those who have lived the struggle, Congressmember Faleomavaega continues to do all he can to hold the Indonesian government accountable so that a better way forward may be found for and on behalf of the people of West Papua.

Past recipients of the award include Carmel Budiardjo (UK) and TAPOL (2008); John M. Miller (U.S.) and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) (2009), and Andreas Harsono (Indonesia) of Human Rights Watch (2010).

The award includes a plaque and a financial prize which Congressmember Faleomavaega has directed be donated to a charity selected by him. The award is named in honor of Papuan John Rumbiak, a renowned champion of human rights and founder of WPAT.

“I am humbled by this award,” Faleomavaega said.  “I do not feel worthy of it, and this is why I have donated the prize money to the Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua) in honor of the men, women and children of West Papua who are the true heroes.”

“Over the years, the men, women and children of West Papua have suffered at the hands of Indonesia’s brutal military and police forces.  In fact, Indonesia’s military has committed indisputable crimes against humanity through the murder, torture and rape of more than 100,000 West Papuans.”

“It should also be noted that Freeport Mining company, now located in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, was the first foreign company to do business with Indonesian President Suharto, one of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century.  Freeport’s association with Suharto led to Freeport operating the Grasberg mine in West Papua — one of the biggest gold and copper mines in the world.”

“With little regard for the people of West Papua, Freeport has callously stripped West Papua of its natural resources and pays Papuan workers less than $1.80 per day, or about $0.20 cents per hour.  Papuan workers went on strike in protest saying their counterparts working for other units of Freeport operations around the world are paid approximately $15 per hour.  All Papuan workers are asking is to be paid at about $3 per hour.”

“To put this in perspective, the CEO of Freeport was paid almost $40 million in 2010 alone.  In my opinion, this kind of disparity is shameful.  An American company should know better, and do better.  And until Freeport makes it right and stops exploiting Papuan workers, I will make my views known on the House floor for the sake of history and for the sake of the American public in hopes that Freeport will one day be held accountable for the environmental and economic horrors it has wrought in West Papua.”

“For history’s sake, I also want to commend past winners of the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award, including Carmel Budiardjo, the 2008 winner, who founded and has chaired TAPOL since the 1970s.  TAPOL (which means political prisoner in Indonesian) is a small UK-based NGO that campaigns for political prisoners and for human rights in general in Indonesia and East Timor.  Carmel Budiardjo was herself a political prisoner, in the late 1960’s at the time that the dictator Suharto came to power.  She was imprisoned for three years and then founded TAPOL upon returning to the UK in 1971.  She won the ‘Right Livelihood Award’ in 1995 and has several times been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Carmel is now 86 but still very active.”

“John Miller and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, the 2009 winner, has long been involved in human rights advocacy in East Timor and Indonesia.  John Miller is the National Coordinator for ETAN.”

“Andreas Harsono, the 2010 winner, is an Indonesian journalist and human rights advocate who in 2010 worked closely with Human Rights Watch, particularly on West Papua.  He is still associated with HRW but also is an independent journalist and human rights advocate.”

“I also commend my good friend, John Rumbiak, a West Papuan human rights advocate, who has worn out his life in the service of his fellowman.  I wish John a speedy recovery, and my thoughts and prayers are with him.”

“Once more, I thank WPAT for the work it is doing to champion the cause of West Papua, and I share this honor with all those engaged in the struggle,” Faleomavaega concluded.

Bintang Papua: Rejection of OTSUS intensifies DPRP should convene plenary session

[All items abridged in translation]

Bintang Papua, 1 November 2010

Rejection of OTSUS intensifies
DPRP should convene plenary session

The rejection of OTSUS, the Special Autonomy Law of 2001,  has intensified  with a demonstration outside the office of the regional legislative assembly, the DPRP calling for it to convene a plenary session to discuss  the eleven recommendations adopted recently by the MRP which included the rejection of OTSUS.

‘We declare that the OTSUS law adopted in 2001 has resulted in no significant  improvements in the living conditions of the Papuan people, and we state that OTSUS has failed.’

The chairman of Pepera PB, Selpius Bobii said that OTSUS provided for a system that sides with the Papuan people, and which protects and empowers them. But in the nine years since the enactment of the law, not a single special regulation as required under the law has been adopted. There have been inconsistencies between the attitude and the actions of the central government.

The chairman of the Customary Youth  of Papua, Wilson Uruway, presented a joint statement to the deputy chairman of the DPRP who was urged to make a statement in response. He said that all the aspirations of the people submitted to the assembly had been discussed. Those concerning the central government would be quickly forwarded to the government in the same way that the eleven recommendations of the MRP has been forwarded.

The joint statement was supported by a large number of groups and NGOs.

Hardly any of the OTSUS funds  has not been used in ways that would assist and help indigenous Papuans but had been misdirected as ‘fictive funds’. The central government was accused of thwarting the MRP at all levels of its activities, as a result of which it has be incapable of struggling for the rights of the Papuan people.

Among the indicators of the problem was the tardiness in adopting special regulations – Perdasi and Perdadus – regarding management of the administration and  for economic development. Dualism between provincial and districts administrations has occurred in their adoption of different regulations

Before demonstrating in front of the DPRP, the crowd gathered at Expo Waena, where they waited for a group from Sentani Customary Council to join them.

One speaker called on the government  to speak out against acts of intimidation, threats and killings of Papuans perpetrated by the TNI/Army and the Police.

A group led by the chairman of DAP Forkorus Yaboisembu arrived at the DPRP travelling on several trucks.

The demonstration was surrounded by two special Brimob units and members of the local police. Nevertheless, the action proceeded peacefully


Historic Papua day commemorated

Bintang Papua, 19 November 2010

19 November 1969  is a historic day for the Papuan people, a day regarded as been sacred by many sections of the people struggling for independence. On this day in 2010,  groups gathered to recall the historic event when the  Papuan issue was discussed in the US Congress, although it did not clearly stated that the US Congress fully supports Papuan sovereignty.

At a gathering held to socialise the events at the US Congress, Wilson Waimbo Uruwaya  announced that they would hold a peaceful demonstration calling for the peaceful solution of Papua’s status which was discussed by the UN General Assembly in 1969.

Wilson said that all elements of the Papuan struggle were united in their determination to socialise the results of the US Congress on which occasion, a discussion took place about crimes against humanity and the need to seek a solution to the difficult problems that were being faced by the Papuan people to the present day.

The discussions in the US Congress which had occurred for the first time have taken the Papuan people a step forward in their history of struggle.

Powerful images from Manokwari show mass opposition to Indonesian occupation of West Papua


November 9, 2010

Manokwari, West Papua:  Powerful images have emerged from mass actions calling for  US President Barak Obama to stop assisting Indonesian state violence, and to seek a lasting peaceful solution to West Papuan people’s suffering.

West Papua National solidarity for Obama (SONABPO) called the peaceful demonstration held on November 8 in Manokwari, to coincide with the visit to Indonesia of Obama.  After two separate protest marches combined, the crowd grew to at least 6200 people.  Despite fears of unrestrained Indonesian security forces in attendance, events were largely peaceful, with the large crowd outside Sanggeng stadium listening to hours of speeches demanding both Indonesia and the US to take responsibility for their role in the systemic brutality of the Indonesian colonial occupation.

(more below)


The demonstration was also in support of the Washington Solution conference on West Papua starting on the 9th November

The main demands of the rally were:1.    The USA must review their 1962 New York Agreement that transferred West Papua to Indonesia.

2.    President Obama and US Congress must review how US assistance to Indonesian military can be leveraged to solve human right abuses in West Papua.

3.    Indonesian government as a political body that is the cause of problems in West Papua,  must open themselves to solve the problems in West Papua.

4.    We West Papuan Melanesians strongly reject the failed Special Autonomy (package imposed by Indonesia) and call for referendum

5.    We West Papuan Melanesians,  support the Washington Solution (self determination) to be held on the 9th of November 2010 in Washington DC USA.

6.    We West Papuan Melanesians demand for the referendum to be conducted in West Papua for democracy and justice.

7. United Nations – Nations (UN) must soon send a team / International Observer Force to West Papua.8. We West Papuan Melanesians are asking for International community to support West Papua Transitional Government to meet Indonesian Government.

After they expressed their political views, representatives from the DPRD promised to continue working according to Papuan aspirations but conceded the were hobbled by being an instrument of  Jakarta.

The rallies dispersed by themselves peacefully.

Forkorus and friends receive heroes' welcome

Forkorus and friends receive heroes’ welcome

(Bintang Papua)The chairman of DAP, the Papuan Traditional Assembly, Forkorus Yaboisembut, and five others who recently attended the public hearing at the US Congress arrived back on Papuan soil yesterday at Sentani Airport to a heroes’ welcome as if returning from the battle-field. On their
arrival, Forkorus and his group were welcomed  by the Boy Eluay, the son
of Theys Eluay.

Troops from the Petapa  security forces maintained a tight guard along
the way taken by Forkorus and the others. As they entered the airport
arrivals area, they were invited to step on a large china plate and
nokens [string bags] were draped round their necks [a ceremonial welcome
for special people] while the woman in the group had her head half
covered with a jilbab. The Petapa guard was closely maintained from the
arrivals area to the cars waiting outside. A group of musicians was also
there to welcome Forkorus and his colleagues. They then drove for 45
minutes to a specially constructed pendopo .

After prayers were said, Forkorus said that they had visited the US at
the invitation of the US Congress to attend a public hearing at the
Congress. He said that this was evidence that the US regards the Papuan
with respect and wants to build a new friendly relationship in order to
help the  Papuan people.

Responding to negative remarks  made by the US ambassador  who said that
Papua is  part of  NKRI, he said that this was just a political
statement whereas all the arrangements for the group’s departure to the
US had been handled by the US embassy in Jakarta.

Herman Awom who also particiated in the visit to the US said that during
their  presence at the congressional hearing,  two other Papuans were
deliberately  included by Indonesia,  Franzalbert Yoku and Nikko Messet,
whose words describing Papuans as stupid and lazy were described as
regrettable by Eni Faleomavaega. a member of the US Congress.

Eni Faleomavaega said it was regrettable that Nikko Messet had said of
his own people that they were lazy and stupid.

It was also reported that Forkorus and his colleagues will repeat their
testimonies on the following day at the graveside of Theys Eluay.

US paying serious attention to Papua: Awom

US paying serious attention to Papua

(Bintang Papua)  According to the moderator of the Papuan  Presidium Council, Herman
Awom, the hearing held at the US Congress was of great significance for
the Papuan people. 'This was the first time in 48 years that Papua was
discussed on an international forum. In our dialogue  we urged the US to
press Indonesia to open dialogue on the question of the failure of
special autonomy, OTSUS and the Papuan people's rejection of  OTSUS.

A number of Papuan leaders said that they would continue to demand
dialogue as the solution to the Papuan problem, and the holding of a

Awom said that OTSUS had failed to prevent the marginalisation of the
Papuan  people. It had led to large-scale migration which was
intensifying the marginalisation of the Papuan people. 'Dialogue with
Indonesia should be mediated by a neutral third party, with the two
sides recognised as equals, as was the case between Indonesia and Aceh.
'For us, there is no other way forward than freedom.'

Forkorus Yoboisembut said that genocide in happening in Papua.' While no
large-scale killings are occurring, genocide is occurring gradually.
Indonesia should allow foreign observers and  foreign journalists to
visit Papua to prove to them that genocide is not occurring,' he said.

As regard s the US position that supports the NKRI and regards OTSUS as
the best solution, he said he understands that this is in order for the
US to preserve good relations with Indonesia. 'But we called on the US
not to sacrifice the Papuan people for a second time. The hearing at the
US Congress was an important development, bearing in mind that we were
not yet a state that could enter into dialogue.


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