Beata Yaboisembut Akim: The woman who accompanies the ‘President’

Suara Perempuan Papua, 25 March – 7 April 2012

[Translation by TAPOL]


Surrendering their lives to God, they remain calm when they face trouble

It was during the week of Christ’s sufferings that Forkorus Yaboisembut was found guilty of treason and sentenced to three years imprisonment. His wife, Beata Yaboisembut was at his side throughout the trial. Dressed in dark brown trousers and a blouse, she sat in the courtroom, calmly following the proceedings. She accepted the result with a feeling of relief.

‘Bapak was always telling us to keep calm. We should not feel troubled and feel grateful that our children are already grown up and can understand what is going on. And please remember that this is the week of suffering and we must all think about the sufferings of our Lord.

Lord Jesus suffered much more than this for our sins. And you must be willing to accept my sentence, said Forkorus’. As a mother and as his wife, she expressed her belief in him.

She first met her husband when they were studying together at the Taruna Bakhti Waene College. They were among the first generation of students at the college and graduated in 1975.After graduating, they were both sent to isolated places in West Papua. Mama Beata was sent to Wamena and Forkorus was sent to Sarmi. In 1976, they decided to get married in Jayapura and after getting married, they each returned to their jobs. Mama Beata was given a job at the Oksibil YPPK primary school and worked there for three years.  She was then sent to Sobron, after the kampung where she was working was attacked.

After her husband became active in the Papuan Customary Council (DAP), Mama Beata saw this as a huge responsibility that was to be borne by him.’Bapak is an Ondoafi, part of our tradition and enjoying the trust of the people. He is greatly respected and loved by the people, just like us, his wife and our children.’

He was the third of six siblings. His two brothers are not with him in Sobron. Forkorus also has two younger brothers and a sister who all live in Nabire.

After being elected as the Chairman of DAP, Beata realised that he no longer belonged just to her but belonged to all the Papuan people. ‘This is why Bapak has always told his children to stand on their own feet.’

As his wife, she realised that his election as the chairman of DAP would have many consequences for herself and for their children which is why he has always stressed the importance of their living their own lives independently.

Fortunately, only two of their children are still studying at Cenderawasih University while their oldest daughter is an expert in civil technology, and the sons have completed their studies in architecture. ‘The youngest is now at sixth grade while his older brother should have graduated last month on 15 March. But never mind, as Bapak is now on trial, his needs are our priority.’ Her daughter’s husband has to rely on the wage he earns as a teacher. As for her own husband, he has not been earning anything since last year.

‘I was not there to see Bapak when he was arrested because I had just returned from Sobron.’  She was preparing food for the [Third Papuan People’s] Congress but before anyone could start eating, the security forces destroyed everything that they had prepared.

When she and the other women heard gunshots and saw tear gas bombs exploding, they ran to the mountains around the Zakeus Field. ‘People can be arrested at any time and I was told never to get worried. On that day,’ she said ‘I tried to keep calm and to find my way home to Bapak so that I could be together with him at all of the court hearings while keeping calm.’

‘Forkorus has always told our children to focus on their education and not to follow him on his chosen path. But the children are always deeply concerned about what is happening to him and they always accompany me when I visit him in prison. I know that they readily accept what is happening to their father. Maybe this is the path chosen by our Lord for this country of ours,’ she said.

During the trial, Bapak stayed overnight at the lodgings of their daughter who lives in Waena. It is a small room, 3 x 4 meters, where the three of them slept. Their home in the kampung is being looked after by Mama. The youngest daughter frequently goes back and forth to visit their grandmother. Because their home in Sobron is 80 kilometres from Abepura, Mama decided to stay with her daughter so that it would be easier for her to visit her husband.

She said that during the time she has been attending the court hearings, neither she nor the children have experienced any terror or intimidation. ‘And Bapak is always telling us to keep calm.’

She visits her husband three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. ‘We are only given 15 minutes to sit together, side by side.

That is quite enough for me,’ she says, ‘because I know that the Lord is there with him.’

She is still busy teaching grade 1 and 2 children at the primary school in Sobron. When she visits her husband, she takes him food and clean clothes. ‘As he is not alone in the prison, I always take food for the other prisoners as well.’

She says that her husband is not fussy about the food she brings, as long as she cooks it. She takes him porridge, vegetables and fish and on special occasions, she cooks him some meat. Ever since he has been in prison, Forkorus has never asked her to bring anything. ‘In fact, when I meet him, he always has a present for me, as well as giving me his dirty clothes to be washed,’ she said, with a laugh.

She can also visit him on Sundays but only to take part in a service together. She is not allowed to take anything except a Bible. They have services twice a day, once in the morning at 8am for the Protestants and once in the evening for the Catholics.

Mama always arrives at 7am to say prayers together with her husband.

Sometimes he asks her to stay for another prayer, after her visit to him has ended. so that she too can receive the body and blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ during the Holy Eucharist as she has continued to be a Catholic.

Mama Beata is the third of six brothers and sisters from Kampung Yuruf Keerom where the majority of the people are Catholics. In December, she will be 59 years old. Because of unsatisfactory conditions in the kampung, the people have been forced to move frequently. Only one of her sisters is still living in Yuruf while one of her brothers died in Vanimo. The two other brothers are living in Vanimo.

‘Prayer is the source of our strength. Everything we achieve, all our happiness and sadness  are part of our lives and my family leaves everything to the one who gives life, to the Lord God Creator of all,’ she said, when she was asked what her future plans for her family were.

This is the first in a series of articles by Suara Perempuan Papua commissioned by TAPOL on the impact of the Papua conflict on women

Third Papuan Congress to go ahead despite efforts to obstruct it

(Note – the Congress is currently underway, more reports to come)
Bintang Papua, 14 October 2011

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

Although the Third Papuan Congress is due to start in two days time, it is not yet known where it will take place. Selpius Bobii, chairman of the organising committee, said that plans to hold the congress at Cenderawasih University are facing obstacles because permission for the UNCEN auditorium has not yet been granted even though, he said, notification of the congress had already been submitted some time ago. Permission to hold the congress at GOR Cenderawasih has also not been received.

Bobii said that those organising the congress believe that there are forces who are exerting pressure to ensure that neither of these locations will be made available. He went on to say that however that may be, the congress will go ahead as planned because Papuan people throughout the territory fully support it.

Bobii said that they were still waiting for permission (STTP) from the police.The main issues to be discussed are the basic rights of the Papuan  people in a situation where Papuans are being violated and intimidated. The intention is to discuss the things they are experiencing  and what measures they need to take to uphold their rights.

The congress will go ahead without any support from the central government; all expences will be covered by the Papuan people themselves, transportation, food and drink will be provided thanks to contributions from Papuan people.

While there are elements who are trying to prevent the congress from taking  place and spreading all kinds of stories to discredit it,, Bobii said this was simply a reflection of the democracy now in place. He said that what was most important was that 273 Papuan tribes would be attending the congress, covering their own costs and even helping out with financing the congress as a whole. ‘There is nothing that will stand in our way,’ he said. Also, security will be guaranteed by a force of about 4,000 people. If anyone moves to prevent the congress from taking place, he said, they will expose the forces who are behind these attempts.

More than 8,000 people have already arrived. As for the location, if not in the UNCEN auditorium, it may take place in Theys  Square in Sentani or at the  graveside of Theys Eluay, as the final alternative.

As for the police permit, this will not be a problem because the central government has already given the green light. Bobii also said that they had received a letter  from the minister of political and legal affairs in Jakarta which, he said, had arrived by fax. This means, he went on, that ‘neither the military commander or the chief of police can prevent us from proceeding with our agenda’.

DAP chairman says Third Congress decisions should be accepted by the government and UN members

Bintang Papua, 10 October 2011

According to Forkorus Yaboisembut, chairman of DAP, the Dewan Adat Papua, the forthcoming Third Papuan Congress will result in decisions that will express the true aspirations of the people of West Papua, in the provinces of both Papua and West Papua.

He said that the results of this Congress should be recognised and put into practice by the Indonesian government and should also be recognised by all the countries which are members of the United Nations.

He called upon the Indonesian government during this era of democracy to accommodate these decisions. ‘If we genuinely uphold the principles of democracy, whatever is decided by the Congress however painful they may be, must be accepted by the Indonesian government.’

He went on to say however that it was quite likely they would not be recognised or implemented by the Indonesian government nor by the members of the United Nations. He said was what normally happens. ‘Some may be pleased while others will not be pleased but we will continue to do everything that we can to convince them that these decisions are correct.’

Regarding the venue of the Congress, he said that UNCEN, the Cenderawasih University had be asked whether its auditorium could be used but they said that they needed the STTP (acknowledgement) from the police which should be forthcoming on 10 October as the chief of police had just arrived back in Jayapura.

Third Grand Papua Congress to be held this year

Bintang Papua, 22 August 2011

A national reconciliation team of the West Papuan people consisting of a number of organisations that have been outspoken in their views about the problems of the indigenous Papuan people as well as the policies of the government in Papua have announced that they will be convening the Third Grand Papuan Congress.

Speaking at a press conference at the office of Dewan Adat Papua, DAP,the Papuan Customary Council, Selpius Bobii, chairman of the team, accompanied by Forkorus Yaboisembut., the chairman of DAP, said that they were making
preparations to hold the Congress from 16 – 19 October 2011.

The theme of the Congress will be: ‘Affirming the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people for the present and the future’. The Congress will to seek to take the Papuan people forward towards turning the Land of Papua into a paradise on earth, such as the Papuan people experienced before coming into contact with outsiders.

As part of the preparations of the Congress, the organising committee plan to meet the Indonesian President ‘This meeting is planned in order to officially inform him of plans to hold the Third Papuan People’s Congress.’ The DPRP, the Provincial Papuan Assembly will also attend this meeting, as representatives of the Papuan people. Selpius stressed that they would be meeting the President only to inform him of their plans. ‘Whatever attitude the government adopts, the Congress will go ahead,’ said Forkorus.

The Congress is the most senior body entitled to take decisions for the indigenous people. ‘All organisations of whatever kind, customary councils, ethnic groups as well as other organisations will be able to present their own agendas.’ The KNPB, the National Committee of the Papuan People, said that they plan to bring about changes that take will them forward to a Free Papua – Papua Merdeka.

The committee also urged the Indonesian government to implement the decisions of the grand meeting of the MRP – the Majelis Rakyat Papua – together with the indigenous Papuan people held on 9-10 June 2010 and to implement the pledge of the DPRP with regard to the Special Autonomy Law, involving the communities living in the Land of Papua as well as the provincial, regional and district assemblies.

DAP wants dialogue, not constructive communcations

Morning Star flag, Flag of West Papua
Image via Wikipedia

JUBI, 4 March 2011

Responding to recent moves to hold a dialogue between Jakarta and Papua, the chairman of DAP, the Papuan Traditional Council, Forkorus Yaboisembut, said that such a dialogue will not be acceptable if it takes the form of constructive communications.

‘Dialogue between Jakarta and Papua must be mediated by a neutral,
international party. There is no such thing as a dialogue between the
Indonesian government and the Papuan people being held within the
Indonesian Republic,’ he said.

He said that the offer of construction communcations as recently
suggested by the Indonesian government can only be to talk about
something like development because it would only be attended by district chiefs, the provincial legislative assembly (DPRP), the governor and the MRP.

What the Papuan people want is a dialogue at an international level, not a dialogue within the framework of OTSUS or Special Autonomy. He said that a neutral, internationally mediated dialogue would be able to fully accommodate all the basic problems in Papua.

‘Those who participate in the dialogue would carry with them the Kejora – Morning Star Flag – not some plastic party membership card. This isn’t what we want.’

He went on to say that the Papuan people have full confidence in the
Papuan Peace Network – Jaringan Damai Papua – to make all the
preparations for such a dialogue to take place.

He said that the dialogue would deal with a number of problems in Papua such as marginalisation, discrimination, the failure of development, the violation of basic human rights and the contradictory views of the Indonesian government and the Papuan people about the history of Papua.

‘In order to deal with all these questions, there must be a dialogue
that is mediated by a third, neutral party, not constructive
communications,’ he said.

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