Tag Archives: decolonization

OpEd: Asia, Africa and the Unresolved Question of Papua

by Budi Hernawan*

April 24, 2015

EDIT: WPM received a transcript without the original author being credited and published as an original .  We apologise for this, but will maintain the article as fair dealing.  Article originally appeared at http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/opinion/commentary-asia-africa-unresolved-question-papua/

Sixty years ago in Bandung, 29 representatives from Asian and African nations were enthused with the spirit of decolonisation, and today even more seem determined to pursue South-South cooperation.

If we look back at the 1955 Bandung conference as described in Richard Wright’s “The Colour Curtain,” it was simply stunning. Most of the leaders of newly independent nations were former political prisoners under their respective colonial regimes. Those who had long been treated as underdogs were now in charge of new nations. It was a new dawn of liberation and in 1960 these Asian and African countries made history through the adoption of Resolution No. 1514 on Decolonisation at the General Assembly of the United Nations.

For this year’s commemorative Asian-African Conference, Indonesia has set three main goals:

  1. strengthening South-South cooperation to promote world peace and prosperity;
  2. reinvigorating the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership; and
  3. a Declaration on Palestine.

However, one thing is missing in this picture: Papua.

Sixty years ago, Papua was on the top of then-president Sukarno’s decolonisation agenda. He managed to get the support from many of the participants of the Bandung conference for his diplomatic battle at the UN to make Papua — still ruled by the Dutch — part of the Republic of Indonesia. The Dutch were still recovering from their post-colonial syndrome and although they had started to realise that their time had passed, they were determined to hold on to what they called Netherlands New Guinea, and what Indonesia referred to as West Irian.

The debates at the UN centred on the topic of unfinished decolonisation and the serious threat to world peace this posed. With the support of other Asian and Africa countries, Indonesian diplomats tirelessly argued before the General Assembly that West Irian was part of Indonesia as agreed during the Roundtable Conference in The Hague in 1949. Furthermore, they argued that the situation was detrimental to stability in the Southeast Asian region, calling on the UN to step in, as mandated by the UN Charter.

With the support of 14 countries, in 1954 Indonesia managed to table “The Question of West Irian” at the UNGA but it took another year before the UN General Assembly adopted it as Resolution 915(X) in 1955. The journey was far from over.

In the following years, Indonesia fought hard for the topic to be put on the agenda at the UNGA, with the support of 15 Asian and African nations, but failed. Australia was one of the countries that consistently voted against the proposal, whereas the United States opted for abstention — giving the Dutch leeway. This diplomatic failure led Sukarno to divert his energy to scale up the nation’s military capacity and, ultimately, launch an assault — Operation Trikora in 1961.

Not long after, the current provinces of Papua and West Papua were transferred to Indonesia after a brief period of UN administration. However, many people do not realise that until today, “Papua” remains an unresolved question.

Papuans have long appealed for a peaceful solution to the decades-old conflict in the easternmost part of the country. It has been a while since local church leaders declared Papua as a “Land of Peace” in 1998, following the bloody massacre of Biak, which remains unresolved. Filep Karma, who rose the Morning Star flag in Biak days before the massacre, remains in jail for doing the same thing in 2004.

The Papuan Peace Network has been trying to persuade Jakarta to engage in dialogue with Papuans since 2009. President B.J. Habibie’s administration told the 100 Papuan representatives to go home and rethink their call for independence. The administration of president Susilo Bambang Yudhyono held two separate meeting with Papuan church leaders and promised to organise a dialogue, which never happened. President Joko Widodo visited Papua after promising to improve the situation on the campaign trail.

But Papuans are still waiting.

While the national government is determined to revive the Bandung spirit of liberation by proposing a “Declaration on Palestine”, local police in Jayapura on April 8 arrested five Papuan leaders and charged them with treason even though they had only just returned home from a  meeting with Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. Papuan efforts to establish a dialogue are being criminalised. Charges remind us of the colonial time, when our founding fathers were persecuted for expressing their political positions.

Papuans are no longer placing their hopes in Asian and African countries, and some have started to shift their focus to the Pacific.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has become a new forum to find a solution for Papua. During its 2013 summit, the MSG expressed concerns over the human rights situation in Papua and called on Indonesia to find a peaceful solution. The summit also discussed an application for membership from Papuan representatives, although a decision has been delayed. But in May, the MSG will again discuss the application during its summit in Honiara.

“The Question of West Irian” is still very much alive.

*Budi Hernawan is a long time researcher on human rights issues in Papua, and is currently a research fellow at the Abdurrahman Wahid Center for Interfaith Dialogue and Peace at the University of Indonesia (UI).

‘OTSUS Plus’ a further blurring of Papuan History

Opinion / Analysis

By  Selpius Bobii in Abepura Prison,

11 October 2013

“ All leaders have notes of their mark in history, so I figure this forms mine in the history of Papua.” These were the words of the Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe to journalists following the acceptance of the draft Papuan  ‘Special Autonomy (OTSUS) Plus’ legislation.  The draft legislation was a result of work by the Cenderawasih University (UnCen) Academic Assistance Team together with the Papuan Provincial Government. The ceremony for the handing over of the draft OTSUS legislation (referred to as the ‘Papuan Governance Legislation’) took place at the Aston Hotel in Jayapura on 9 October 2013. (www.tabloidjubi.com/2013/10/10/draf-uu-otsus-plus-terus-digodok/).

To look more closely at the Governor’s comment, was he speaking out of some ambition to make a mark in history for the period he was governor in Papua whilst SBY was still President of Indonesia? Being noted as the governor present at the time the Otsus Plus legislation was forced onto the Papuan indigenous community. If we look back at what the indigenous Papuan community has had to endure we see the evidence that under leader after leader both at the national level and the Papuan regional level, that there has been nothing but a ‘blurring’ of history in Papua. The Otsus Plus legislation that is about to be applied in Papua will but add to that blurring of Papua’s history.

Until this time all policies in Papua have been set from Jakarta and the reins have always been held from Jakarta. Those in official positions within the provincial and kabupaten (regency) levels of government in Papua have acted as ‘bridges’ to enable the Central Government’s projects to be a ‘success’, in line with their ends of marginalisation, discrimination and making Papuans a minority.   Which on the broader scale have amounted to a process of annihilation of the ethnic Papuan race.

No matter who holds the power at the provincial level, they will never liberate the people of Papua from the discrimination, marginalisation, being made a minority and the annihilation of the ethnic Papuan people, which has been planned and carried out by the Republic of Indonesia (RI) constantly until now.  Since the time Papua was annexed by Indonesia, the efforts of Indonesia to this end have been nicely ‘wrapped’ so that they are systematic and ‘tidy’, but make no mistake they are planned and measured by the Central Government taking place through a number of strategies and tactics.

Governor Enembe has stated to journalists that all Papuans want “major changes” and one can only think that he perceives this draft legislation is the solution to awaken Papua and bring about those ‘major changes’.  However what if the Otsus Plus legislation does NOT bring about those expected major positive changes or in fact any changes that lead to a better situation for indigenous Papuans? The Otsus Plus legislation is not only NOT the solution to bring an end to the problems in Papua but in fact will clearly have the opposite effect and bring nothing but calamity and disaster for the indigenous peoples of Papua.

The legislation is intended to protect the rights of and empower the indigenous people of Papua, however all agree that the application of OTSUS this last 12 years by Indonesia (2001-2013) has been a total failure, and that it has neither protected or respected the basic rights of indigenous Papuans (including even the most basic right to life or their basic political rights).  The efforts of Indonesia to revise the Papuan Special Autonomy legislation so as to become the Papuan Special Autonomy Plus legislation is bound to meet exactly the same fate as the Special Autonomy legislation and completely fail!

Governor Enembe’s statement that the draft Otsus Plus legislation is the “desire and aspiration” of the Papuan community and “something to be struggled for”  brings much shame on Papua and is in fact a public lie.  As the Papuan community never wanted the Otsus Plus package that is now being forced on Papua and it has never been the ‘aspiration’ of the indigenous Papuan community.  The revision of Otsus to become Otsus Plus is rather the desire and aspirations of the political elite in Jakarta and in particular of SBY’s Cabinet. These efforts are being driven by SBY due to both Otsus and then the UP4B program (the Accelerated Development Unit in Papua and West Papua) having previously failed.

The results of the work carried out by the Uncen Academic Assistance team as follow-up to the draft Otsus Plus legislation – the initial document of which was prepared by President SBY through Feliks Wanggai – simply cannot be claimed to be something of the desires and aspirations of the Papuan people.  As the Uncen team is but part of the hands and feet of the Republic of Indonesia and has intentions to defend the oppression in Papua by RI and by so doing to extend the suffering of the indigenous people of Papua.

Having Uncen University involved in this way to give some false legitimacy to the legislation, was also practised by Indonesia in 1999 in order to force another of Jakarta’s projects onto Papua.  It was at that time that the Uncen Assistance Team was formed by RI to be involved in the initial draft Special Autonomy legislation.  Yet when the draft legislation was provided to the Central Government in Jakarta it was then cut right back. The final draft which was then totally according to Jakarta’s agenda was approved by the national Legislative Assembly and it was then applied under the order of the President in the year 2000 against firm opposition from the indigenous Papuan community becoming operative in 2001.

The draft legislation in this instance as prepared by the Academic Assistance Team together with the Papuan Provincial Government is merely intended to deceive the public, local, national and international. As the final draft legislation that will be presented for approval will actually be that prepared by President SBY’s Cabinet and in particular by the President’s Special Staff person in the area of Regional Autonomy Fileks Wanggai.
Sadly those lecturers at the Cenderawasih University who have been involved in the project have allowed themselves to be used as a ‘bridge’ to enable Jakarta’s project to pass through the system.  The draft Papuan Otsus Plus legislation has been handed to the Papuan Governor by the University rector Professor Dr Karel Sesa. From the time Papua was initially annexed into the Republic of Indonesia on 1 May 1963 the Uncen University has always played a role of securing and legitimising programs from Jakarta. They managed to destroy all their important records that were a part of the regime of the colonising Indonesia and in so doing to bring much suffering on Papuans. This role of legitimising Jakarta’s agendas was in fact from the start one of Indonesia’s  intentions in establishing Uncen University.

It is most ironic that despite the wave of rejection by the Papuan indigenous community of Otsus Plus, that the Uncen Assisting Team has been working together with the Papuan Provincial Government to ensure ‘success’ of Jakarta’s political package. In so doing they have pawned their very self-worth for positions of importance and wealth.  Their consciences have become blinded by their passion for wealth and positions of influence. Their expert knowledge has been used to support the colonial domination of Indonesia rather that to rescue the nation of Papua from the crisis of this era under RI’s colonial power. This is a matter of great shame and which brings much sadness.

The fate of the Papuan nation”s community is being played with by these persons politically prostituting themselves for the sake of personal gain. The strength of the nation of Papua to resist the destructive effects of RI’s ways and means has been weakened with the support of certain Papuans themselves working both within and outside the Indonesian government systems.  People working merely to chase personal importance and the interests of their own factions.  The consequence being that the indigenous Papuan community has become the victim of their conspiracies of interests at the local, national and international level.

This oppression must be bought to an end! The entire Papuan community must be aware of these realities and commit to walk together so as to realise the goal together.  Papuan activists in all locations need to consolidate and act as one, uniting agendas and stepping forward together. In particular youth and students in all locations need to strictly head only towards the struggle for the liberation of the nation of Papua. Whilst the international community in solidarity is asked to continue all efforts with actions, campaigns and diplomatic efforts to liberate Papua as their supportive efforts are so badly needed towards the end of upholding justice and the human dignity of Papua above all other interests.

To the Republic of Indonesia it is demanded that continuing discussion of the unilaterally prepared draft Otsus Plus legislation (referred to as the Papuan Governance legislation) stops  immediately. The unilateral application of political packages of any kind by Jakarta will never bring an end to the problems in the land of Papua. Rather RI needs to enter into dignified dialogue and non-conditional consultations between RI and the nation of Papua, facilities by a neutral third party and held in a neutral location so as to find a dignified solution to the problems.

There is no word for ‘give-up’ in the dictionary of the revolution of liberation; and neither is there a term ‘too late’ in the field of struggle. There is still time. The people of Papua have strength, have faith, have hope and have the Lord. We must be strong and stay able. We must rise up and go forward. We must oppose all forms of tyranny and oppression and be firm in our convictions that we will eventually be victorious. That will indeed be a most glorious moment when the times comes..

‘ Unity without limits! Struggle until victorious!’
Selpius Bobii is the General Chairperson of Front PEPERA &  is a Papuan Freedom Political Detainee in  Abepura Prison, Jayapura
 

 

General Assembly of Pacific Churches supports self-determination for West Papua

Tabloid Jubi
14 March 2013
The Tenth General Assembly of the Churches of the Pacific which was held in Honiara, the Solomon Islands from 3 – 10 March adopted a programme of activities to document the human rights violations occurring in West Papua  and in support  of West Papua’s right to independence.The General Assembly adopted  a programme of documenting and effectively advocating justice and respect for the basic rights of West Papua, in partnership together with its ecumenical colleagues, civil society and governments in the region.The press release issued by the General Assembly said: ‘This will mean that West Papua becomes a strong focus and part of the programme of the General Assembly of Pacific Churches for the right to self determination for non-self governing  territories and for nations and people that want independence.’

The delegations attending the meeting declared that they acknowledge the basic human rights of all peoples and in particular the right to self-determination of all indigenous people who are oppressed and colonised throughout the world, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The press release also called for the right to self-determination of the Maohi Nui People (Tahiti). The delegates said that the issue of decolonisation has for many years been the focus of the General Assembly of Pacific Churches. They announced their full support for Tahiti to be restored to the UN decolonisation list.

[Translated by TAPOL]

 

Pacific cannot be truly free until West Papua is free, say activists

From our partners at Pacific Media Centre

West Papuan protesters demonstrate at Auckland University when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a speech. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Asia-Pacific Journalism, Pacific Media Centre

14 September, 2011

Henry Yamo

Free West Papua” … the Pacific isn’t free until West Papua is free. That is the four-decades-old West Papuan slogan that reverberated for a week as the Pacific islands countries gathered for the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum in New Zealand.

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Ban Ki-moon waving to West Papuan protesters at Auckland University. Photo: Karen Abplanalp / PMC

Dr John Ondawame from the West Papua People’s Representative Office in Vanuatu says: “Our call to the leaders of all Pacific countries is to support the West Papua peoples’ call for peace talks between the government of Indonesia and the people of West Papua.”

Pacific leaders must remember that the Pacific will never be free unless West Papua is free from the current oppression and atrocities that have lasted for more than 40 years caused by the Indonesian government, he says.

Dr Ondawame says their concerns are voiced particularly to their Melanesian neighbour countries to call on the government of Indonesia to take decisive decision on suggested peace talks and recommend a Forum fact-finding mission to West Papua.

“We are calling as Melanesian brothers and are very keen to meet with the Prime Minister of Vanuatu who has indicated to support our call,” he says.

“We also want to lobby with leaders from other Melanesian and Pacific countries to support Vanuatu when it raises the West Papua,” he said.

Fundamental right
The member for Te Tai Tokerau electorate and founding leader of the Mana Party in New Zealand, Hone Harawira, says he supports the cause of West Papuans because freedom is a fundamental right.

“As Pacific islanders we can only be totally free if West Papuans who are also from the Pacific are completely free from the current oppression,” says Harawira.

Jo Collins ... abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry  Yamo / PMC

Jo Collins … abuses will not go away. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

This was reinforced by the spokesperson for the Australian West Papua Association, Joe Collins, who says the Forum has to realise the abuses have been going on for many years and will not go away.

“People get shot or get burnt; tortures are carried out publicly on the streets so that it creates fear among the people.  The level of spying on West Papuans is very high, starting in villages and into towns and cities,” he says.

West Papua is one of the last conflict areas in the Pacific region. The international and Pacific governments should pay more attention to the level of torture and atrocities being experienced by the people.

Dr Ondawame says the freedom of West Papua is a Pacific issue that has received “embarrassingly  little” attention from Pacific countries while the United States and United Kingdom have made their position clear, calling for constructive and peaceful dialogue.

“At least Melanesian countries must act and we are pleased that Vanuatu is the only country that has come forward to firmly support the aspirations and independence of West Papua while our very close neighbour PNG has been silent and has been working closely with Indonesia,” he says.

Call for UN action
The United Nations cannot do much with human rights issues in West Papua unless Pacific Island countries unite and call for UN action.

Rex Rumakiek ... seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Rex Rumakiek … seeking peaceful solution. Photo: Henry Yamo / PMC

Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPCNL) Rex Rumakiek says: “West Papua has been part of the Pacific since the establishment of the South Pacific Commission and also as founding member of the Pacific Conference of Churches set up in 1956.

“And so it is timely for our Pacific brothers to adhere to our concerns when the opportunity arose. We are here to seek that support.”

Rumakiek says the people of West Papua will continue to take up the call until a peaceful solution to the problems is found, ending the shameful atrocities encountered.

Meanwhile, activist Paula Makabory says their struggle is not a fight against the Indonesian government but also against imperialism and neo-colonialism.  It is about being Melanesian within Indonesia.

“Shouting West Papua or free West Papua or even displaying the West Papua flag in West Papua has landed people in jail for 15-20 years or have been beaten very badly that some eventually succumb to their injuries.”

She says even though Indonesia has rectified civil and political rights under the UN treaty, West Papuans are constantly under military surveillance and humiliated every now and then.

Their united call is for the Forum to support their call for a peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government and to grant West Papuan representatives observer status at their annual conferences.

The West Papuans believe that the Forum cannot say it promotes regional stability, while overlooking and neglecting the deadliest issue that has dragged on for over four decades.

Henry Yamo is a postgraduate journalist on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University’s School of Communication Studies.

More coverage on the West Papua issue at the Pacific Islands Forum

Statement from the West Papua solidarity gathering at Nga Wai o Horotiu, Tamaki Makaurau / Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

from Peace Movement Aotearoa

 8 September 2011

We are very encouraged by the statement of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon, at a media conference in Auckland yesterday, 7 September 2011, that West Papua should be discussed by the Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.

Noting with appreciation the Secretary-General’s statement that “whether you are an independent state or a non-self-governing territory or whatever, the human rights is inalienable and a fundamental principle of the United Nations”, and “we will do all to ensure” that the human rights of the people of West Papua are respected, we therefore call on:

The United Nations Secretary General to act without delay, and:

  • appoint a Special Representative to investigate the situation in West Papua – to review the circumstances and outcome of the 1969 ‘Act of Free Choice’, as well as the contemporary situation; and
  • use his good offices to persuade the Indonesian government to allow free access to West Papua for media representatives from the international community and for non-governmental human rights organisations.

The Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in Auckland to act without delay, and:

  • send a fact-finding mission to West Papua to investigate the human rights situation;
  • support the West Papuan people in their call for peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government;
  • grant observer status to West Papuan representatives who support the people of West Papua’s right of self-determination; and
  • recommend to the United Nations General Assembly that West Papua be put back on the agenda of the Decolonisation Committee.

The New Zealand government to act without delay, and:

  • play a role in mediating and beginning the process of peaceful dialogue between West Papuan representatives and the Indonesian government; and
  • cease all military ties with Indonesia until the human rights of the people of West Papua are respected.

Civil society to:

  • support the West Papuan call for peace and justice, and for a process of peaceful dialogue with the Indonesian government; and
  • take every opportunity to support West Papuans working for peace, justice, human rights and environmental sustainability.

Participating organisations: New Zealand non-governmental organisations Bicultural Desk of the Auckland Catholic Diocese, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Christian World Service, CORSO Inc., Indonesia Human Rights Committee, Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Philippine Migrant Centre, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Aotearoa Section; New Zealand based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji; and Australian non-governmental organisations Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights,  Medical Association for Prevention of War, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australian Province), Pax Christi Australia and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Australia Section.

Photos from some of the West Papua solidarity actions in Auckland: are available at http://www.facebook.com/PeaceMovementAotearoa
Formatted copy of this statement: is available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/wp-ngos0911.pdf