Tag Archives: cultural genocide

Cultural Destruction, Land Conversion Threaten Indigenous Papuans

from Abeth You, at our partners Tabloid Jubi’s West Papua Daily

October 21, 2015

Indigenous peoples of Papua - Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – The destruction of Papuan culture is gradually happening and is threatening the lives of indigenous people, a student group said.

The issue at heart is not the reduced number of Papuans, or rates of birth and mortality, but most importantly is the loss of cultural values, patterns of dispossession (being ignorant of the sacred connection to land), a ban on the use of indigenous languages in some urban schools, as well as the loss of indigenous content education in school, said the Chairman of Papua Highland Student Association in Indonesia (AMPTPI) for Eastern Indonesia Region, Natan Naftali Tebay.

Tebay said the most crucial issue is the loss of customary tenure rights on land, water and the values of life. “The process of land conversion such as sago forest being destroyed for oil palm plantations, is a process of extermination of the values and Papuan planting heritage ,” Tebay said in Jayapura on Monday (19/10/2015).

According to him, once Papua was recognised as the “sago barn” but it is now recognised as the “oil palm barn”.   During this time the levels (of indigenous) population in Papua were politicised (inflated with inaccurate data)  by some bureaucratic elites, with claims the population of Papua grew to more than three million.

“The Papua Provincial Government should be firm and realistic about the population rate of indigenous people. The Regional Parliament, Papuan Representative Council, Papua’s People Assembly and Papuan Provincial Government must not stay still and (just) watch the reality of genocide,” Tebay said.

He added they must establish strategic planning, such as forming a Special Regional Regulation, or establishing particular institutions to manage the transmigrants, and enforce sanctions over them if necessary.

“This is also prohibiting the development process. The Central Government also implements several policies that are not in synergy with the Governor’s policies. The regents and mayors must observe this situation, therefore they shouldn’t necessarily ask the Central Government for support,” he said.

It could be seen that several oil palm plantations, illegal logging and illegal fishing went ahead without any prior communication (or permission) from the Provincial Government.

Further he asked the Papua Governor to immediately issue the regulation about the population restriction and form a special body about the population issue in Papua. He also suggested the requirement of the regulation of local transmigration be extended both to people and government officials.

Earlier, the Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said the transmigration program in Papua initiated by the Minister of Villages, Rural Development and Transmigration Marwan Jafar was a depopulation threat for indigenous Papua.

“We have rejected the transmigration program from the Central Government.  If they still want to realise it, it should be a local (ethnic Papuan) transmigration (within Papua) instead of replacing people from Java or other regions to Papua.  Replacing poor Indonesian people to Papua means taking the problem to Papua. It’s not only related to the economy, employment,  or social problems, but I do worry that the program will reduce the number of indigenous Papua on this land in ten or twenty years; the depopulation of indigenous Papua,” Enembe told Jubi at his official resident on Saturday evening (17/10/2015) in Jayapura.

Furthermore, Enembe said until today no institution has the valid data about the number of indigenous People.  “So how could we protect the indigenous Papua from transmigration is still running without knowing the accurate data on the number of indigenous people?”

Papuan cultural parade blockaded then broken up by Jayapura Police

From KNPB and West Papua Media sources in Jayapura

February 20, 2014

https://westpapuamediaalerts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/565e1-dscf2364.jpg
Traditional Cultural Action, Jayapura, 17 February 2014

A cultural parade organised by university students in Jayapura was blockaded and then dispersed with force by Indonesian police on February 17, after Indonesian police refused to recognise West Papuan cultural expression.

The demonstration of culture, music, art and dance from across Papua’s indigenous tribes, in which several hundred students in two groups marched wearing traditional Papuan dress, was to highlight the demand of “Save the Papuan Culture”.  The manifestation was organised by the Youth Coalition for the Rise of Students (Koalisi Pemuda mahasiswa bangkit or KPMB) and the Cenderawasih University’s (Uncen) Student Executive Body (Badan Eksekutif Mahasiswa or BEM).

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Speakers, songs and dances were performed from 8-10am local time in two locations, outside the Uncen Waena Housing Complex (Perumnas III) and in front of the post office in the town of Abepura, and at 10am, the Perumnas III mass began to march and dance their way to Abepura.

However Police blockaded the mass action once the crowd reached the Waena traffic lights.  Despite having previously notified police of their intention to hold the parade, field coordinators of the action were forced to negotiate with the police, pointing to the KPMB’s intention to hold a peaceful action that day in the form of Papuan cultural art.

However, in an outburst witnessed by a West Papua Media stringer, the Deputy Commander of the Jayapura District Police, the notorious hardliner Kiki Kurnia refused to let the gathering continue, warning the crowd that he would not tolerate “introducing some culture from an unknown place”.  “There is no such culture such as that in Indonesia,” Kurnia asserted, dismissing over 45,000 years of Papuan language, culture and art.

Kurnia then prohibited the students from displaying any form of Papuan culture, and further stated that the crowd “was prohibited from carrying out any action of any form whatsoever as the Governor had prohibited all forms of actions,”. according to independent sources and verified by WPM.  Just after 10am local time, ordered several platoons of heavily armed police to blockade and disperse the cultural gathering.  Several injuries were reported but unconfirmed.

After being forcefully dispersed,  a much larger mass returned and gathered in front of UNCEN’s main entrance, lighting a bonfire on the road in response.  According to witnesses, this crowd was spread out as far as Perumnas III in Waena, a distance of several kilometres.

According to the cultural event organisers, the crowd outside UNCEN was angrily voicing their objections to the continued silencing of the democratic space throughout all of Papua by the Police, with speakers expressing outrage at the betrayal of the culture of Papua.

“That the police had been obstructing the mass action stating ‘Where are you bringing this culture from? We don’t have any culture like that in Indonesia’ angered us all, as it is seen as a denial of the Papuan culture,” an organiser told West Papua National Committee (KNPB) media workers.

Members of the gathering clearly spoke out that if the police continued to betray and deny Papuan culture in such a way, that Papuans would mount an even larger scale action asserting the Papuan culture, and that they would boycott the 2014 presidential election, according to reports from the KNPB.  The action Coordinator Beny Wetipo then called upon the Papuan community and all parties to save the Papuan culture from being replaced by a foreign culture that was threatening the existence of the Papuan race.

AFP: Languages of Papua Vanish Without a Whisper

(Comment from West Papua Media:  A very sad indictment of the policy of cultural genocide and Indonesianisation practiced in West Papua.  Deliberate refusal of allowing birth languages to be spoken at school, and persecution of people speaking traditional languages by security forces is contributing to this.  As any indigenous person knows, loss of language means loss of place, and is the last step of cruel dispossession.)

Agence France-Presse
July 21, 2011

Who will speak Iniai in 2050? Or Faiwol? Moskona? Wahgi? Probably no
one, as the languages of New Guinea — the world’s greatest linguistic
reservoir — are disappearing in a tide of indifference.

Yoseph Wally, an anthropologist at Cendrawasih University in Jayapura,
keeps his ears open when he visits villages to hear what language the
locals are speaking.

“It’s Indonesian more and more,” he said. “Only the oldest people
still speak in the local dialect.”

In some villages he visits, not a single person can understand a word
of the traditional language.

“Certain languages disappeared very quickly, like Muris, which was
spoken in an area near here until about 15 years ago,” he said.

New Guinea is home to more than 1,000 languages — around 800 in Papua
New Guinea and 200 in Indonesian Papua — but most have fewer than
1,000 speakers, often centered around a village or a few hamlets.

Some 80 percent of New Guinea’s people live in rural areas and many
tribes, especially in the isolated mountains, have little contact with
one another, let alone with the outside world.

The most widely-spoken language is Enga, with around 200,000 speakers
in the highlands of central PNG, followed by Melpa and Huli.

“Every time someone dies, a little part of the language dies too
because only the oldest people still use it,” said Nico, Cendrawasih
University’s museum curator.

“In towns but also eventually in the forest, Indonesian has become the
main language for people under 40. Traditional languages are reserved
for celebrations and festivals,” said Habel M. Suwae, the regent of
Jayapura district.

In PNG, under the influence of nearby Australia, English has spread,
though it has made little headway with some tribes, particularly those
in the isolated highlands.

The authorities are sometimes accused of inaction, or even of favoring
the official language to better integrate the population, particularly
in Indonesian Papua.

But according to Hari Untoro Dradjat, an adviser to the Indonesian
ministry of culture, “it is almost impossible to preserve a language
if it is no longer spoken in everyday life.”

Despite his pessimism about the future, anthropologist Wally believes
art and culture can stop Papuan languages being forgotten.

Papuans love to sing and celebrate and they must do these things in
their traditional languages, Wally says — this way, young people “will
want to discover the language to understand the meaning of the songs.”

Instead of saving languages on the way to extinction, some researchers
want to preserve a record of them — a difficult task when many are
exclusively oral.

Oxford University has launched a race against the clock to record
Emma, aged 85, Enos, 60, and Anna, also 60, who are the three last
Papuans to speak Dusner.

More than 200 languages have become extinct around the world over the
last three generations and 2,500 others are under threat, according to
a Unesco list of endangered languages, out of a total of 6,000 in the
world.